What Are Options With An Old 401k Investment Plan

At some point, investors are faced with the conundrum of what to do with old 401k plans. The individual will likely have left their position with a company or found themselves downsized from the business. In either scenario, there are a few options to consider with the retirement plan.

It might seem favorable to cash out and use the funds until another work position comes along to avoid a struggle, but that decision needs careful forethought. Catching up on retirement wealth is a challenging feat. Instead, it’s wise to weigh rollover options while pursuing a side gig until your financial situation improves.

One option is to invest in precious metals with a 401k plan. Gold and other precious metals held in an IRA provide benefits to a retirement portfolio, including diversifying assets and protecting retirement wealth for the long term, not to mention the tax advantages.

In some situations, there’s a designated time frame when the 401k funds need to be moved, or the ex-employer can make a decision for you. Let’s look more closely at the 401k retirement plan and options for the funds with an old plan.

 What Are Options With An Old 401k Investment Plan


When you leave an employer, either voluntarily or not, the likelihood is high that there’s a 401k plan left behind that you need to designate where the funds are to go.

One popular option among investors nowadays is to roll a portion over into a precious metal IRA based on the diversity it provides, along with the tax benefits. Go to https://smartasset.com/retirement/401k-gold-ira-rollover/ for guidance on executing a 401k to precious metal IRA rollover.

The problem you face is if there’s a limited timeframe to make your decision, ultimately, the company could make the determination for you if you fail to meet the deadline.

It will depend on the amount you have in the plan and your employer. Each company is different. In some scenarios, the following is the anticipation:

  1. Less than $1000: A company could simply cash out the fund and send you the payment. In order to avoid tax repercussions, you need to roll these funds into another account within 60 days.
  2. $1000-$5000: A company can roll the funds over into an IRA they select. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about tax consequences and can transfer the funds if you’re dissatisfied with the choice.
  3. $5000+: Anything from $5000 and over can only be moved by a company with your express direction. You can even choose to leave it in the old account if you desire. This amount will be changed to $7000 in 2024 based on the “SECURE Act 2.0.” With this new law, any funds transferred by the old company into a “default” IRA will immediately go into the new company’s retirement plan once employment is found.

When a company doesn’t require you to move the funds out of an old account, you have the option to keep it there. Read here for details on whether you really need a 401k.

One thing you need to consider if you roll over to a more complex option like a precious metals IRA is whether you have the capacity or resources for self-management since these are self-directed accounts.

They can also be expensive, considering it’s required to hire a specialized custodial service to administer the account, plus invest in a storage depository with insurance to hold the metal.

The IRS has many regulations that must be followed with a gold IRA. When neglected, you can be disqualified from the tax benefits resulting in fees and penalties.

How Can You Avoid Tax Repercussions With 401k Rollovers

When you want 401k funds to be rolled over from the old retirement plan to a new one or an individual retirement account, perhaps a precious metals IRA, it’s vital to allow the new custodial service to work with the existing custodian to ensure the rollover happens timely avoiding the potential of a taxable event.

The funds need to be deposited into the new account within a 60-day timeframe. Suppose the existing custodian decides to transfer the old 401k funds to you directly. In that case, you will then need to contribute this money into the new account before that deadline to avoid penalties.

It’s possible to roll over as many old 401k retirement accounts as you might have in holding to a new retirement plan. Still, you need to pay attention not only to deadlines but contribution limits and stipulations that the IRS might institute in the case of precious metal IRAs.

Final Thought

There are a few variables to consider for old 401k retirement plan options. The most suitable rollover solution will depend on your current financial situation and will be unique for each individual.

The least wise decision for anyone is cashing out retirement funds, essentially canceling your retirement wealth. While you might find yourself struggling at the moment, making a problem for your financial future is never the answer. You can always look into a side gig until regular employment comes along.

A priority is ensuring the 401k funds are adequately invested before the old company has the chance to move them for you. This is the best opportunity to reach out to a financial counselor or even a tax advisor for guidance on your current financial status and advice on where to put your funds.