Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reader with 401(k) question …

A reader sent in a question about his 401(k) plan that I think is worthwhile passing on … “Hi George, I am looking forward to retiring in the next 1-2 years. I have a 401(k) with my former employer, another 401(k) with my current employer, a small cash balance plan pension fund with my current employer, and an IRA into which I rolled my prior cash balance plan into. “My former employer’s 401(k) plan requires that I come up with a distribution plan of equal annual distributions, or take the entire amount in one distribution. “So now, I’m trying to determine the most rational way to take those distributions, such as rolling it all into my IRA, or to do a series of (say, 10) annual distributions into my IRA. “It is my understanding that I can take the distributions from my IRA at any time, in any amounts, as long as I begin the required minimum distributions (RMD) when I reach 70½. Therefore, by moving the money in my 401(k) to my IRA, I gain flexibility in the amount I take each month, and am not stuck being required to take more than I need because of a prior distribution election Am I thinking right? “If not, what is the right way to deal with these various accounts and allow myself flexibility in how I take distributions as the years go by? Please help! Thanks! Brian” Here’s my answer to Brian: To me, it looks like the simplest solution is to just move all the funds from the 401(k) into your IRAs. That could reduce the number of accounts to keep up with and give you the most flexibility as time goes on. So as far as I’m concerned, I'd say that you're thinking is right on. Good luck! George

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