At Robin S. Weingast & Associates, we believe a large part of our work is keeping our clients well informed about the insights and trends that will help them achieve their business goals. We also believe that we have a responsibility to pass along tips and to help shatter myths that may be preventing our clients from succeeding. Our team of experts is constantly reading and staying up-to-date on what’s happening with the IRS, employee benefits, and more.
This month we’re talking 401 (k) plans, which are a well-known – but often not fully understood – retirement plan option that many employers offer. If you need a refresher on exactly what a 401 (k) is, we recommend this basic overview.
Now that you know the basics, here are five things you may not know about your 401 (k):
1) If you leave your job, you can roll your 401 (k) over to an individual plan with no tax penalty.
Many people think that any 401 (k) distribution will incur a penalty, but that simply isn’t the case. If you change employers, any plan will allow you to roll over to an established IRA. If you have multiple plans, it’s best to consolidate them.
2) Your 401 (k) is creditor-protected by law
The great thing about this is that your 401 (k) funds are protected – no matter what. That’s why we advise our clients never to use their 401 (k) funds to pay off a debt or avoid bankruptcy. Your funds will be protected, and you should only use them for retirement.
3) Age 55 is important
Most people assume that age 59 1/2 is the point at which they can begin receiving distributions from their 401 (k) without the standard 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, there are certain instances when you can receive distributions beginning at age 55, particularly if you leave your employer after 55 but before 59 1/2. Make sure you discuss these provisions with your plan provider.
4) Using an automated portfolio is a smart strategy
As much as we might want to pick-and-choose our own investments, most plans offer incredibly valuable automated resources. In some instances you simply select a year that aligns most closely with your anticipated retirement date and your plan will allocate your assets across many platforms and the plan will adapt over time as you near your retirement date. In other cases, you may need to articulate how aggressive or conservative you wish to be with your investments, and the plan will compile an appropriately aligned portfolio of investments. Whatever is available, an automated plan makes sense and makes life much easier.
5) Consider Stable Value Funds
If you are close to your retirement (or even if you’re not), consider allocating some of your 401 (k) assets to a Stable Value Fund, which is a special class of fund that most plans offer. The value won’t vary with the market nor will it be impacted by adjustments to interest rates the way bond funds do. As you get closer to retirement, it may make sense to move a few years’ worth of anticipated funds into a Stable Value Fund, so that you can at least have the peace of mind knowing that your first few years of retirement income will not be impacted by market variables.
Need additional assistance managing your 401 (k)? The Robin Weingast & Associates Team is always available. Contact us today. We’re happy to help and happy to answer any questions!