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What Are My 401(k) or Other Qualified Employer Sponsored Retirement Plan Distribution Options?

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Take Control of Your Retirement Savings

If you’re changing jobs or retiring, one of the most important decisions you may face is how to handle the money you’ve worked hard to earn and save in your qualified employer sponsored retirement plans (QRPs) such as a 401(k), 403(b) or governmental 457(b). When leaving a company, you generally have four options for your QRP distribution. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages and the one that is best depends upon your individual circumstances. You should consider features such as investment choices, fees and expenses, and services offered. Your Wells Fargo professional can help educate you regarding your choices so you can decide which one makes the most sense for your specific situation. Be sure to speak with your current retirement plan administrator and tax professional before taking any action.

Decide which option is right for you:

Roll over your retirement savings into an individual retirement account (ira).

Rolling your money to an IRA allows your assets to continue their tax-advantaged status and growth potential, the same as in your employer's plan. In addition, an IRA often gives you access to more investment options than are typically available in a QRP and investment advice. An IRA lets you decide how you want to manage your investments, whether that's using an online account with which you can choose investments on your own or working with a professional who can help you choose investments.

Keep in mind

Wells Fargo offers IRAs along with a variety of ways to manage your savings. Learn more about our options .

Note: If you choose this option, you’ll want to research the different types of accounts and where you would like to open an IRA, start the process of moving your savings over to your new IRA, periodically review your investments, and take RMDs (once you reach age 72).

Leave your retirement savings in your former QRP, if the QRP allows

While this approach requires nothing of you in the short term, managing multiple retirement accounts can be cumbersome and confusing in the long run. And, you will continue to be subject to the QRPs rules regarding investment choices, distribution options, and loan availability. If you choose to leave your savings with your former employer, remember to periodically review your investments and carefully track associated account documents and information.

If you choose this option, remember to periodically review your investments, carefully track associated paperwork and documents, and take RMDs (once you reach age 72) from each of your retirement accounts.

Move your retirement savings directly into your current or new QRP, if the QRP allows

If you are at a new company, moving your retirement savings to this employer’s QRP may be an option. This option may be appropriate if you’d like to keep your retirement savings in one account, and if you’re satisfied with investment choices offered by this plan. This alternative shares many of the same features and considerations of leaving your money with your former employer.

Note: If you choose this option, make sure your new employer will accept a transfer from your old plan, and then contact the new plan provider to get the process started. Also, remember to periodically review your investments, and carefully track associated paperwork and documents. There may be no RMDs from your QRP where you are currently employed, as long as the plan allows and you are not a 5% or more owner of that company.

Take a lump-sum distribution (taxes may apply)

You should carefully consider all the financial consequences before cashing out your QRP savings. The impact will vary depending on your age and tax situation. If you absolutely must access the money, you may want to consider withdrawing only what you need until you can find other sources of cash.  Before making this choice, use our online early-withdrawal costs calculator .

We’re here to help.

Call us 1-877-493-4727

Distributions are subject to ordinary income tax and may be subject to an IRS 10% additional tax for early or pre-59 ½ distributions.

Wells Fargo and Company and its Affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice. This communication cannot be relied upon to avoid tax penalties. Please consult your tax and legal advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. Whether any planned tax result is realized by you depends on the specific facts of your own situation at the time your tax return is filed.

This information is provided for educational and illustrative purposes only and is not all encompassing and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any planning, trading, or distribution strategy. Investors need to make their own decisions based on their specific investment objectives, financial circumstances, and tolerance for risk. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Asset allocation and diversification are investment methods used to help manage risk. They do not guarantee investment returns or eliminate risk of loss including in a declining market.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors . Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services , LLC (WFCS) and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network , LLC, Members SIPC , separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company .

WellsTrade ® and Intuitive Investor ® accounts are offered through WFCS.

Retirement Professionals are registered representatives of and offer brokerage products through Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC (WFCS). Discussions with Retirement Professionals may lead to a referral to affiliates including Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. WFCS and its associates may receive a financial or other benefit for this referral. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a banking affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Information published by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Wells Fargo Advisors, or one of its affiliates as part of this website is published in the United States and is intended only for persons in the United States.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.



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Matches up to 6 percent

typical 6% match after one year of service

Competitive match and easy enrollment

used to be better, they only match once per year "401k day"

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Match your contributions by four percent.

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