Spring cleaning should include financial closet

Published 8:47 am Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Thrivent Financial

Spring cleaning season is upon us. Garage? Check. Basement? Check. Finances?

Do you have multiple retirement accounts?  Often times when people switch jobs, open separate accounts or have accounts left to them, they stay separate and dispersed among companies, institutions or owners. You can clean up these disparate accounts by rolling over your older or multiple retirement accounts into a single Individual Retirement Account (IRA) saving you time and possibly expense.

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Current rules permit nearly every qualified retirement plan to be either transferred, or rolled over, to another qualified retirement plan.  Note that there are exceptions and rules when combining these various plans so make sure you involve a financial professional in your decision making.  Common qualified retirement accounts that might be eligible for a rollover include: 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) plans.  Should you meet a distribution event under these retirement plans, such as either leaving that employer to take another job or retiring, you can transfer or rollover your balance under that plan to either another employer sponsored qualified plan or an IRA on an income tax advantaged basis. Thrivent Financial offers the following basics for what you need to know about rolling over into an IRA.

An IRA is an individual account that provides you with income tax deferral to help you save for retirement.  There is what is referred to as a traditional IRA, which accepts before tax contributions and grows income tax deferred until distributions are taken and then taxed.  There is also a Roth IRA, which accepts after income tax contributions which can grow income tax free if certain requirements are met. The growth of these two types of accounts isn’t guaranteed and there are inherent risks with any investment.

An IRA rollover is the act of funding an IRA account with all assets being rolled over or transferred directly from an existing tax-qualified retirement account, a pension plan, a profit sharing plan, 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan or another IRA, typically, without either tax penalty or income tax withholding, for continued tax-deferred growth.  Special rules apply to distributions to and from designated Roth 401(k), Roth 403(b), Roth 457(b) and Roth IRA accounts, as Roth accounts can only be rolled into a Roth IRA.

An additional advantage of consolidating your retirement accounts into one IRA is that when it comes time for you to take a mandatory distribution from your IRA (which typically happens at age 70 ½ for most taxpayers) you need only make one annual calculation and one annual distribution.  Multiple retirement plan accounts would necessitate multiple annual calculations and multiple annual distributions.

Yet, another consideration to getting your retirement plans consolidated into one account is that it will make it easier for your loved ones to locate and handle your retirement account upon death. In taking this step you can help relieve some of the burden from them at a very difficult time.

You can find more information at www.thrivent.com/IRA.  Talk to your financial representative about specific questions and concerns.

While cleaning out the back corners of your basement, you should consider cleaning out your financial back corners too.

This article was prepared by Thrivent Financial, a faith-based, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization with locations at 109 First Ave. SE and 1211 Fourth St NW in Austin.