retirement

6 ways to screw up your retirement plan

Mistake No. 4: leaving the account in limbo
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Mistake No. 4: Leaving the account in limbo

Just leaving your retirement account with a former employer is also a bad option, Hottin says.

"If your former company downsizes or is acquired by another firm," he says, "finding some contact who can help you retrieve it at a later time could be a hassle.

"It's better to take your 401(k) with you and mix it in with your new employer's plan -- or roll it into an individual retirement account of some type so you can manage it a bit better." If you do an IRA rollover, make sure it's a trustee-to-trustee transfer.

Rolling it into your new employer's account will give you continued creditor protection, says Green. "Even if you default on loans or you're a defendant in a lawsuit and lose, nobody can touch the money in your 401(k) or 403(b)." Depending on the state you live in, he says, your money might also be protected in an IRA.


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