Baby boomers did it worked an average of 12 jobs, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. During any job change, a retirement account can get lost in the fray.
Some people lose track of a retirement plan and need to find a lost 401 (k) later. “Life gets in the way. Go on and forget,” says David Curry, principal and co-founder of East Paces Group in Atlanta.
Here’s how to find your lost retirement savings:
- Contact your former employer.
- Look for unclaimed retirement benefits.
- Work with a financial advisor.
Contact your former employer
Some workers leave their retirement, 401 (k) account, or other retirement benefits to the care of their former company when they change jobs. Sometimes people forget about a previous employer’s pension plans.
If you think you have left some money with a former employer, call that company’s human resources department. Ask for the plan administrator’s name and phone number. “Turn to the benefits, folks. Stay on the phone with them until you get your answers,” Curry says. “You have to ask the right questions. Find out where he is.”
If your previous business went out of business or was purchased or merged with another company, it may take some research to figure out who to contact, but the funds may still be available. A retirement plan can be a lot more money and require more financial guidance. “Pensions can be a lot more complex,” Curry says. “Many times they don’t know how to pay their pension or what their options are, but finding it is step # 1.”
Search for Retirement benefits not claimed
Use Internet resources to find a missing retirement account. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federal agency that insures private sector pensions, has a database of unclaimed pensions. “Check out the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website at Unclaimed.org and the MissingAssets.com website,” says Harvey Bezozi, a financial planner and accountant from Boca Raton, Florida. “Both are informational resources for finding your unclaimed assets.”
Most unclaimed 401 (k) accounts are small, but sometimes someone leaves a significant amount of money. Kristian Finfrock, founder and financial advisor of Retirement Income Strategies in Evansville, Wisconsin, says a client has discovered $ 190,000 lost. “He knew he was lost, he just couldn’t find him,” Finfrock says. “The company changed recorders. They sent notices to the clients’ homes, but she never answered the mail. It was a little tricky, but we found the property.”
Work with a financial advisor
A financial advisor can help you manage various retirement accounts or track down retirement benefits. Curry says lost or forgotten accounts come up during his initial intelligence gathering meeting with a client. “What we do is start with a financial plan and start collecting data,” Curry says. “We find out about them and their employers. We ask them, ‘After you left this company, did you put this into another plan?’ During the exercise we find buckets that they have forgotten or that require attention “.
Make a list of any work you’ve done and what you’ve done with your 401 (k) plan funds or other retirement benefits when you left the company. Some employers automatically enroll workers in a 401 (k) plan, withhold a small amount from employee salaries, and deposit that money into a 401 (k) account. You might have signed up for a 401 (k) plan even if you never actively signed up for an account.
It’s a good idea to be proactive and consolidate your retirement accounts every time you change jobs to make them easier to track. “When you change jobs, there’s little reason to leave your money in an old company,” says Finfrock. “You should put it into your new business plan or put it into your IRA.”