Lost Things

At our house, “Have you seen my _{insert lost thing}­­ ?” is a common refrain.  This morning, I couldn’t find the carpet cleaner (that I had just used last week on a different pet incident), Ben couldn’t find the belt for his school uniform, and Ethan couldn’t find his History book.  Jonathan and Melanie were unhelpful on all three fronts…

While all of the items the Yakels have lost seem hard to misplace, it’s surprisingly easy to just forget where you left things.  And, weirdly, same goes with money.  Sometimes, financial accounts just slip our minds, like that tiny 401K account from an old employer.  Other times, we try to be good and mentally put accounts out of our minds to let them grow or to leave them alone, but then we forget them entirely!   I perpetually forget that we have an eTrade account, as that is our emergency fund, and I ignore it as a source of money.  Good thing that our Meridian Navigator reminds me that it is still out there!

Americans are pretty good at misplacing money.  According to Credit Karma, over $40 billion in unclaimed funds are sitting in state offices.  And, that total doesn’t include all of the private funds from abandoned 401K accounts, brokerage accounts, PayPal accounts, etc.

To start your search for unclaimed money that you may have forgotten about, US.gov recommends starting with the unclaimed property offices in the states where you have lived, and then checking with former banks, brokerages, employers, and tax authorities:

One we see often here at Meridian is the orphaned 401K account from an old employer.  Many of our clients have switched jobs and have just left their old 401K behind.  We highly recommend that you take those funds with you—if you aren’t at your company, your money shouldn’t be either!  Most often, we will recommend rolling that old employer plan into your new employer plan if the investment options are prudent and low cost.  If the new plan fund line up is filled with middling performers are high cost funds, we recommend rolling the old plan into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) at your provider or choice (hopefully, Meridian… 😊).

Too often, we’ve seen clients let the old accounts at their old employer, and then it is a challenge to put together a cohesive investment plan across the total portfolio.  Additionally, quarterly statements from multiple old plans fill the mailbox every few months, and keeping track of all of the accounts is cumbersome.  Then, upon retirement, it is hard to build a withdrawal strategy and/or manage the Required Minimum Distribution conversation.  We highly recommend simplifying your life by keeping retirement funds together.

Plus, if you ever need to access or transfer your old retirement accounts, you may have to go through the plan administrator at your old company—which we’ve found to be a challenge as companies are acquired or merge.  One client’s husband had left an old 401K plan with a former employer.  That company had been sold three times over ten years, and then the husband died.  It took us nearly 6 months to helping our client track down this old account of her husband’s, as the plan administrator had changed so many times!

So, if you have an old plan account languishing somewhere, we highly recommend you pull out the statement you just received for the third quarter of 2019, and figure out where to roll it to so that you can keep track of it.  Your current IRA or employer plan are great choices to start from, but if you need more help choosing a good home for the old orphaned account, just give us a call and we are happy to explain your options!

One of the lost things…found 1 out of 3…

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