Guide to 401(k) Rollovers: 401(k) Rollover Resources


A 401(k) rollover allows you to transfer funds from an existing retirement account to another, leaving its tax-advantaged status intact. But, did you know you can rollover your 401(k) to invest in precious metals?

Many 401(k)’s are eligible to be converted to an IRA backed by gold and silver. It’s true: If you have a 401(k) that’s under the management of a previous employer or if you’re over 59 1/2, in most cases, you can move your retirement savings to a Precious Metals IRA – without any tax implications or penalties.

By transferring an old 401(k) to gold and silver, you’re moving to a Self-Directed IRA, which often means that you have more control over your investment options. Plus, you have the peace of mind that your retirement is stored in hard, tangible assets, which can provide protection against the dollar’s continued loss in value and economic volatility.

The process of moving your 401(k) to precious metals may seem daunting to some, but it doesn’t have to be. To learn about how you can get started and some of the steps that you will need to take to convert your 401(k) to gold and silver, read our informative articles below. And when you’re ready to learn more, give us a call at (800) 355-2116. As the Precious Metal IRA Specialists, Birch Gold Group’s qualified IRA department can help you every step of the way in transferring your 401(k) to a gold IRA, including taking care of all the paperwork.

Want to learn more about 401(k) rollovers? Keep reading to learn more about your options.

What Is a 401(k) Rollover?

A 401(k) rollover is the process of transferring funds from a former employer’s 401(k) plan to an alternative retirement savings vehicle, such as an IRA or a new employer’s retirement plan.

The primary goal of a 401(k) rollover is to make it easy to move retirement assets without incurring taxes or penalties. By executing a rollover, individuals can maintain the tax-advantaged status of their retirement savings and get more control over their investments.

There are several guidelines and regulations governing 401(k) rollovers. Adhering to them ensures compliance with tax laws and helps to ensure a seamless transition. The decision to pursue a 401(k) rollover shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should have a comprehensive understanding of the specific terms of the existing and new retirement accounts, and working with a professional financial planner can help ensure a smooth rollover process.

401(k) Rollover Resources

Navigating 401(k) rollovers requires informed decision-making and a comprehensive understanding of the process. We offer valuable resources to assist you in making sound financial decisions during these transitions:

What Are the Different 401(k) Rollover Options?

When it comes to 401(k) rollovers, you have several options that allow you to strategically manage your retirement assets. Understanding these options is crucial for making informed decisions aligned with individual financial goals. Common 401(k) rollover options include:

1. 401(k) rollover to an IRA

One popular avenue is the transition from a 401(k) account to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This option gives you the flexibility to tailor your retirement strategy to meet specific needs. There are several IRA pathways you can take:

  • Traditional 401(k) to Traditional IRA Rollover: This involves transferring funds from a Traditional 401(k) account to a Traditional IRA or Traditional SDIRA, such as a Gold IRA that allows you to start investing in precious metals. The advantage is the preservation of the tax-deferred status of the assets.
  • Traditional 401(k) to Roth IRA Rollover: This 401(k) rollover to IRA option allows you to move funds to a Roth IRA or Roth SDIRA, such as a Gold Roth IRA. While this conversion is taxable, it provides tax-free withdrawals in retirement, so it may be advantageous for those expecting to be in a higher tax bracket in the future.
  • Roth 401(k) to Roth IRA Rollover: Individuals with a Roth 401(k) can rollover funds into a Roth IRA or Roth SDIRA, maintaining the tax-free status of qualified withdrawals. This option is ideal for those seeking continued tax-free growth, and this type of rollover isn’t subject to taxes.

2. 401(k) rollover to new 401(k) plan

Transitioning between jobs often brings the opportunity to get a new retirement plan. This strategic move involves rolling your existing 401(k) funds directly into the retirement account offered by your new workplace.

One key advantage of this approach is that it typically incurs no tax penalties. By directly transferring the assets, you preserve the tax-advantaged status of your retirement savings while capitalizing on the potential benefits and investment options offered by the new employer’s 401(k) plan. However, by choosing to keep your funds within a new 401(k), there is no option to buy physical gold or other precious metals within that account.

3. Keep 401(k) plan with former employer

In certain scenarios, departing employees may have the option to leave their 401(k) plan with their former employer. This arrangement can be an appealing choice for those who find their existing plan best suited to their financial goals.

Keeping the 401(k) plan with a former employer offers continuity and stability in investment strategy, as well as potential familiarity with the plan’s features. While not all employers allow this option, it can be a convenient solution that eliminates the need for immediate decisions and adjustments during periods of job transition.

This route is particularly useful for those who appreciate the autonomy and familiarity of managing their retirement savings within their existing plan structure. It’s important to note that if you keep your current 401(k) plan, you will not have the option to buy physical gold or other precious metals within that account.

4. Cash out 401(k)

Another option is to cash out your 401(k), but it’s crucial to understand your retirement plan details because it can come with long-term consequences. Withdrawing funds from your 401(k) before reaching the age of 59 ½ typically triggers a 10% early withdrawal penalty. This can reduce the amount you receive and impact your retirement savings drastically.

The withdrawn amount may also be subject to income taxes, which can result in a higher tax liability for the year the withdrawal occurs. At the same time, cashing out your 401(k) means depleting your retirement savings, which can have a significant impact on your future financial security.

Before cashing out, you may want to explore alternative options. Rolling over to a new employer’s 401(k) plan or an IRA can help you preserve the tax-advantaged status of your savings and maintain a strategic approach to your long-term financial goals.

How Can You Avoid 401(k) Rollover Penalties?

When considering a 401(k) rollover, understanding the potential penalties is crucial. Here’s how to rollover a 401(k) while avoiding unnecessary financial setbacks:

  • Direct 401(k) Rollover (No Penalty): A direct rollover involves transferring funds directly from your old 401(k) account to a new retirement account. By choosing this method, you can sidestep the 10% penalty that applies to early withdrawals. A direct rollover also ensures a smooth transition of funds while preserving the tax-advantaged status of your retirement savings.
  • Indirect 401(k) Rollover (No Penalty Within 60 Days): An indirect rollover entails receiving the funds from your old 401(k) and then depositing them into a new retirement account within 60 days. If completed within this timeframe, you can avoid the 10% penalty. Exceeding the 60-day window may result in penalties and taxes.
  • Withdrawal (Potential Penalty): While withdrawals from a 401(k) before the age of 59 ½ are typically subject to a 10% penalty, there are exceptions. If you become disabled or leave your employer after the age of 55, you may be exempt from this penalty. However, you should never assume. It’s essential to be aware of these exceptions and carefully assess your situation and work with a financial planner before choosing a withdrawal.

What Are the Pros and Cons of 401(k) Rollovers?

Deciding whether a 401(k) rollover makes sense requires you to evaluate the potential advantages and drawbacks. Understanding both sides is essential for making the best decision for you and your retirement savings.

Pros of 401(k) Rollovers

  • Consolidate accounts: Rollovers enable the consolidation of retirement accounts, simplifying the management of assets. This unified approach allows for a clearer overview of your retirement savings.
  • Purchase alternative assets: Opting for a 401(k) to SDIRA rollover provides the unique advantage of investing in alternative assets. For instance, you can use your retirement funds to buy gold instead. This can offer diversification benefits, acting as a potential hedge against inflation and economic uncertainties.
  • Potential cost savings: Rolling over to a new retirement account may allow you to save money. If the new account has lower fees or offers more cost-effective investment options, this can contribute to increased returns over the long term.

401(k) Rollovers: Pros and Cons List

Cons of 401(k) Rollovers

  • Tax implications: Certain rollovers, such as moving funds from a traditional 401(k) to a Roth IRA, may trigger tax liabilities. The transferred amount is treated as taxable income in the year of the conversion, potentially impacting your current tax situation.
  • Potential penalties: Incorrectly executing a rollover or failing to adhere to specified time frames can result in penalties. For instance, if an indirect rollover isn’t completed within 60 days, it may incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty on top of income taxes.
  • Prefer current 401(k): If you have a preference for the features and benefits of your current 401(k) plan, such as unique investment options or employer-sponsored perks, a rollover may result in the loss of these advantages. Assessing the benefits of your existing plan is crucial before opting for a rollover.

How Do You Rollover a 401(k)?

Rolling over a 401(k) is a systematic process that ensures a seamless transition of your retirement savings. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to rollover a 401(k):

How to Do a 401(k) Rollover

1. Ensure current 401(k) plan is eligible for a rollover

Confirm whether your current 401(k) plan is eligible for a rollover. Different plans may have specific rules regarding rollovers, so understanding the terms and conditions is crucial.

If you choose to work with Birch Gold Group, our IRA Specialists will collaborate with you to facilitate the necessary paperwork and guide you through the eligibility verification process. Their expertise ensures a smooth transition from your existing plan to a new retirement account.

2. Open your new retirement account

Determine the type of retirement account that best suits your financial goals. This could be your current employer’s 401(k) plan, a conventional IRA, or an SDIRA. If you opt for a 401(k) to SDIRA  rollover, Birch Gold Group’s IRA Specialists can assist you in finding a qualified Gold IRA custodian. This professional will help you manage your precious metals IRA, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and safeguarding against penalties.

Evaluate the features and benefits of each account type. For instance, most conventional IRAs offer a limited number of asset classes, while an SDIRA provides the flexibility to buy gold with a 401(k).

Once you’ve decided on the account type, you can initiate the process to open a new retirement account.

3. Initiate your 401(k) rollover

Once you’ve determined where you want the funds to go, initiating the rollover is the next crucial step.

If your SDIRA rollover includes precious metals, a Birch Gold Group Precious Metals Specialist will step in to guide you through the options while considering your preferences and savings goals. The Precious Metals Specialist will also ensure that your chosen precious metals are securely stored. They facilitate arrangements for precious metals IRA storage options at a certified depository, offering peace of mind regarding the safety of your assets.

What Are the 401(k) Contribution Limits?

Contributing to your 401(k) is crucial to building a secure retirement future. However, you must be aware of the contribution limits set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure compliance and make the most of this tax-advantaged savings opportunity. Here are the contribution limits for 2024:

  • For employees: $23,000
  • For employers: $69,000 for combined employee and employer contributions
  • Catch-up contributions: $7,500 for employees who are 50 years of age or older

401(k) Rollover FAQs

Can you have more than one 401(k) account?

Yes, it’s possible to have more than one 401(k) account simultaneously. However, it’s important to note that the contribution limits set by the IRS apply to your combined contributions across all of your 401(k) accounts.

For instance, let’s say you contribute $15,000 to your primary employer’s 401(k) plan in 2024. According to the 2024 annual contribution limit for employees, which is $23,000, you have an additional capacity of $8,000. If you choose to enroll in a second employer’s 401(k) plan or have a side business with its own 401(k), you can contribute the remaining $8,000 to that account.

How many times can you roll over a 401(k)?

There’s typically no limit on the number of times you can roll over a 401(k). The IRS doesn’t impose restrictions on the frequency of these rollovers. However, certain considerations apply. You can perform direct rollovers from one eligible retirement plan to another as often as needed. Direct rollovers involve the transfer of funds directly from one account to another.

However, if you choose an indirect rollover, where you receive the funds and then deposit them into another retirement account within 60 days, you can only do this every 12 months. The IRS limits the frequency of indirect rollovers to prevent individuals from using this method as a short-term loan.

Do 401(k) rollovers count as a contribution?

No, 401(k) rollovers don’t count as contributions to the new account. When you roll over funds from one 401(k) account to another, it doesn’t impact your annual contribution limits since you’re simply transferring existing funds from one retirement account to another.

Key Takeaways: 401(k) Rollovers

A 401(k) rollover can be a strategic move for individuals who want to optimize their retirement savings. Whether transitioning between jobs, retiring, or seeking greater investment control, understanding the process and available options is crucial.

Investing in gold and other precious metals can be possible with a 401(k) rollover. Birch Gold Group offers specialized guidance through our team of IRA and Precious Metals Specialists. The ability to convert a 401(k) into an IRA backed by precious metals provides a unique avenue for diversification and potential protection against economic uncertainties.

Our expertise ensures a smooth transition, assisting with paperwork and offering comprehensive support throughout the rollover process. For personalized assistance and a seamless transition of your retirement assets, Birch Gold Group’s IRA Specialists are ready to guide you at every step.