How to Find a 401(k) from a Previous Employer

Try these 4 Tips to Track Down an Old 401(k) Account

Making the decision to leave an employer isn’t one to take lightly and doubtlessly comes with a mountain of considerations. With so much to think about, when you do part ways, things can slip through the cracks. This is especially true for things you don’t see every day like your retirement funds.

If your previous employer offered a 401(k) plan, chances are, you opted to automatically contribute to it—keeping your earnings off your radar. This is great for passively saving, but is all too easy to forget about if you leave the company.

Your options for handling a 401(k) account when you leave an employer include:

  • Keep it in the same account
  • Roll the funds into your new employer’s 401(k) plan
  • Roll the funds over into an IRA

If you have chosen to rollover your funds into another 401(k) or into an IRA account, tracking down these funds is as easy as contacting your new HR department or bank. However, if you have left it alone, things can get a little muddled.

These unattended accounts can either stay where you left them, fall into an automatic safe harbor account—if this was set up beforehand, or end up in the unclaimed property department. Instead of leaving these assets behind, try utilizing these tips to track down your missing money.

4 strategies for location an old 401(k) account include:

  1. Check old 401(k) statements: If you are lucky enough to have an old 401(k) statement, refer to your annual or quarterly statement to find the contact information of where your account is being held. Once you speak to the administrator, you will be able to discover both the amount in the account and the steps needed to access the account, so you can properly move or monitor it.
  2. Reach out to the employer you opened the account with: If you do not have an old statement, the best way to find your lost account is through contacting your old employer. Someone there will be able to share who manages the 401(k) accounts. Be aware that it might require you to share personal information such as your full name, the dates you worked there, and the last four digits of your social. If contacting your employer feels too uncomfortable, you might be able to access this information by reaching out to former coworkers. They’ll be able to share the contact information for the plan’s administrator.
  3. Use the Unclaimed Property Database: If your former company has shuttered and you are unable to get the administrator’s contact information, there are a few free resources you can check to see if you have an account balance:
  1. Check if your funds have been added to an IRA account: For balances under $5,000, your previous employer might have rolled your funds into a default IRA account. This often occurs when your employer isn’t able to reach you—due to a move or an inaccurate address. You can easily determine whether this has happened to you by using the FreeERISA website.

An Experienced San Antonio Attorney to Help You Plan Your Estate

It is never too early to plan for retirement and keeping track of these assets is one of the first steps in proper management. If you need legal advice or support to create an estate plan that serves you and your loved ones, turn to our attorneys at Aria Law PLLC. Contact us by calling (210) 960-9996 or filling out our online contact form.

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