To Roll or Not to Roll

That’s the rollover question. Do you have the answer?

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Getting rollover advice isn’t always straightforward.

There’s a difference between a “financial advisor” or “financial planner” who really uses “planning” as a vehicle to sell products – yes, Virginia, they do exist – and a true advisor/planner who provides independent and objective analysis as a part of his or her service to clients.

Wasn’t that commercial subtle?

Nevertheless, when deciding whether or not to roll over your company retirement plan to a self-directed IRA, there are considerations and analysis to be considered before making this irrevocable decision.

Here’s a brief – read that as ‘oversimplified’ and incomplete – hint of the types of issues you should consider:

Sample of 401(k) issues:

  • Maybe no required minimum distributions (RMDs) when you hit age 72 if you’re still working and not a 5% owner of the business you work for.   Maybe.  You need to check with your plan administrator – some plans still require RMDs even if still employed.

  • Expenses in the 401(k) plan may be less.  Maybe.  This is a murky area as some plans are sold to employers as being ‘free’.  It’s a myth, of course, as often costs may be hidden even from the company plan sponsor.  Often plans offer a large menu of options, but not all are ‘open architecture’; many are pre-packaged.  Your financial advisor should be able to provide a full independent comparison expense analysis of your plan holdings vs. the IRA holdings you’re considering.

  • ERISA protections (Employment Retirement Income Security Act) protect your 401(k) assets from creditors (except IRS levies).  Only qualified ERISA plans have this protection – 403(b) plans offered by state and local governments might not qualify for this protection.

Sample of IRA issues:

  • You can contribute as long as you’re working, regardless of age.

  • Unlimited menu of investment options.  Many do not allow self-directed brokerage

  • Not protected by ERISA but rollovers is protected under federal bankruptcy law.  Amounts not rolled over (money from other sources) are protected up to $1 million, indexed for inflation every three years.
  • Option to convert an IRA to a Roth IRA.  You’ll need to pay taxes on the conversion – and they should be paid from other assets to capture the full advantage – and the Roth IRA will need to be funded for at least five years with the owner reaching age 59-1/2 (or disabled) when distributions are made.   The current historically low income tax rates are set to expire in 2026 and could be replaced sooner.  Taxes appear to be ‘on sale’ now – so this is an attractive option for many taxpayers, particularly in light of the SECURE Act, but that’s another subject (see SECURE Act under Categories on the right side panel of this blog).

Remember to plan BEFORE you act.  Ready, fire, aim seldom works out well.

Jim

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Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® in his 21st year of private practice as Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a fee-based registered investment advisor with clients located in New York, Florida, and California. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742.  IFG helps specializes in crafting wealth design strategies around life goals by using a proven planning process coupled with a cost-conscious objective and non-conflicted risk management philosophy.

Opinions expressed are those of the author.  The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Planning to Roll Your 401(k) to Your Own IRA?

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Getting ready to retire?  Planning to roll your 401(k) into your own IRA?  It will pay to do your homework first.

To help you get started, you might find our 401(k) Rollover Review helpful.  It contains information on changing jobs, retiring, methods, rollover taxation issues, and more.

i303a_ira-rollover-review_overview-report_vsa_001Click Here for your 401(k) Rollover Review!

 

TO ROLL? OR, NOT TO ROLL….

iStock Images

iStock Images

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Getting ready to pull the retirement cord?  In a previous post, I had talked about pension options – worth reviewing if that’s an issue for you.  I also recently provided an IRA rollover checklist  for those evaluating the pros and cons of such a decision.

Whether or not to to do a rollover is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.  It depends on your particular situation.  There are good reasons both for and against rolling over your retirement plan to an IRA – the checklist can help sort those out.

Believe it or not, there may be a reason to take some of your retirement out in cash and pay taxes right now!  How can that be?

If you’re on of those now doing your homework – good for you – you may enjoy reading this report, Six Best and Worst IRA Rollover Decisions.  This report not only discusses those decisions, it will also provide some insight on additional issues worth considering.

I hope you find it worthwhile.  You can download it here>  Click here for your report!

Before you get to the report, however, here’s a bit of news I came across from Mark Dreschler, the president and founder of Premier Trust.  His words:

The US Supreme court ruled this past June, in Clark v. Rameker, that inherited IRAs are NOT protected from a beneficiaries’ bankruptcy. Previously, this was an open issue. Now, the only way to protect an inherited IRA from inclusion in the beneficiaries’  bankruptcy, is to have a correctly worded IRA Inheritance Trust named as the beneficiary. This will also protect the IRA principal from other creditors, or divorce proceedings.

However, if the distributions are paid directly to the beneficiary, they are NOT protected from bankruptcy or even attack in the event of a divorce. An IRA Inheritance Trust which also protects distributions from attack is called an “accumulation trust.”  The trustee cannot be the child. The trustee has full discretion to hold distributions from the IRA in trust to protect the child or pass them out, depending on the circumstances. The child beneficiary may benefit from the distributed assets that the trust holds, but does not own them individually. Obviously, if the child-beneficiary has no title or control of the IRA distributions, they cannot be taken by a charging order or other legal means of attack.

Hope you find that helpful.  And, don’t forget to download your report.

Jim

 


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

 

 

Rollover Mistakes Could Be Irrevocable!

Debt DespairJim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

According to Cerulli Associates, rollovers from 401(k)s and other retirement plans will cause IRA assets to reach $12 trillion by 2020, and according to retirement expert, Ed Slott, CPA, fully 99% of advisors  – never mind the general public; good luck – know next-to-nothing about the rollover/distribution side of the business.[1]

It’s worth understanding that every time IRA or 401(k) money is touched, it’s a gamble for those who don’t know what they’re doing.  Mr. Slott says it’s like an eggshell – he’s good at metaphors – break it, and it’s over.  He’s right.

Few people realize that if they make a mistake on the rollover, they could lose the IRA entirely – and it’s irrevocable!

A number of years ago, I wrote a report, Six Best and Worst IRA Rollover Decisions, which is available on the IFG website.   One of the mistakes I mentioned was in not recognizing that some people maybe shouldn’t do a rollover at all!

Why?  First, you have to understand what a rollover is – as the well as the difference between a rollover and an custodian-to-custodian transfer.  A rollover happens when money has been withdrawn from a 401(k) and deposited into an IRA.  When that happens, the client is required to do the necessary withholding, pay the tax and wait for a refund the following year.  A transfer of the account directly between custodians avoids that problem; but, there’s a potentially bigger one.

Here’s an example scenario:  If a rollover has been previously rolled over in the past 12 months, the entire account now becomes taxable, and there’s no fix to correct the error.   Someone with a $500,000 or $1 million (or any other size) IRA could be in for a big shock.  Taxes will be due at their new rate – this withdrawal likely puts them in a new bracket – and the money left is no longer tax-deferred!

A direct transfer would have avoided this problem.

Keep Up with New Rules

A lot of seniors have CDs and IRAs at banks.  Last year, you could do one rollover per year for each of your IRA accounts.  No more.  Now, the law is one rollover per year for ALL IRA accounts – and that includes Roth IRAs.  Two rollovers means that one of them will be no good.

Inherited IRAs

Here’s where mistakes can, and do, happen far too often; because the rules are different – and stiffer.

Did you know a non-spouse beneficiary can NOT do a rollover?  A child who inherits a parent’s IRA must be careful.  Often , because the child wants to access the money right away, an attorney  will sometimes put the child’s name on it.  When that happens, that’s the end of the account.  It just became a taxable distribution – check with your tax advisor.   It should have been set up as a properly titled and inherited IRA.   Putting the money into the beneficiary’s IRA is a terrible mistake.

 Beneficiary Designation

Too often, problems happen because people fill-out the beneficiary forms and forget them – never reviewing them.  Failure to do this only puts off the day when siblings get “lawyered-up”  because  the investor didn’t understand the true meaning of the distribution designations.

There’s more to know, of course; but, hopefully this will get you thinking… and doing your homework before making mistakes that can’t be changed.   Working with a professional who’s been down the path before can’t hurt, either.4 Simple Steps Post_001

I did create a short piece not long ago, Four Steps to a Comfortable Retirement.  You might find it worthwhile.

Enjoy!

Jim

 


 

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.  Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the opinions of IFG any IFG affiliate or associated entity.The Independent Financial Group is a registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.  He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. Jim can be reached at 805.265.5416 or (from outside California) at 800.257.6659. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.  

[1] 401kSpecialistmag.com, Issue 2 1015.