Weigh Five 401(k) Options When You Leave A Job
If you have participated in a 401(k) plan where you work, you may have accumulated a tidy nest egg for retirement. But what happens to those funds if you switch jobs or retire? Typically, you will have at least five options:
1. Take a lump-sum distribution. If you have a pressing need for the money, you can arrange to have your investments sold and the proceeds paid to you in a single sum. However, beyond depleting your savings, this also may have negative tax consequences. Most or all of the money may be taxed at ordinary income rates, which can reach as high as 39.6%, and a large payout may result in other tax complications, including a 3.8% surtax on net investment income (NII).
And if you're younger than age 59½, you also may owe a 10% early withdrawal tax, unless an exception applies. You might not have to pay this penalty if you need the money for a divorce settlement or medical expenses, for example.
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