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How to Roll Over a 401(k) into an IRA

Three Simple Steps to Rolling Over

Once you have decided to roll over your 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plans with former employers into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), here's how it's done:

Step 1 – Choose an IRA

  • First, determine whether you need a Traditional or Roth IRA to preserve existing tax benefits.
  • Once you decide on a Roth or Traditional IRA, determine how you would like to work with Wells Fargo when managing your savings. Select Your Rollover Account

If you need assistance selecting an IRA or determining how you would like to manage your savings, please call us at 1-877-493-4727.

Step 2 — Transfer 401(k) funds from your old 401(k)

Contact your former employer or plan administrator (contact information can be found on your last 401(k) statement), and request a direct rollover distribution payable to Wells Fargo. Make sure to:

  • Ask your former employer or plan administrator to roll over the funds directly to Wells Fargo for benefit of (FBO) your name.
  • Reference both your name and the account number (if available) of the new IRA you set up.

Your former employer or plan administrator will either send the funds directly to Wells Fargo, or you will receive a check in the mail to deposit into your Wells Fargo IRA.

Step 3 — Manage your savings

Once you have your savings, it's time to manage them. Depending on how you chose to work with Wells Fargo in Step 1, you can either:

  • Choose the investments that make the most sense for your unique goals and situation.
  • Contact us for help creating an investment allocation tailored to your needs.

Please keep in mind that rolling over assets to an IRA is just one of multiple options for your retirement plan.  Each of the following options is different and may have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Roll assets to an IRA
  2. Leave assets in your former employer’s plan, if plan allows
  3. Move assets to your new/existing employer’s plan, if plan allows
  4. Cash out or take a lump sum distribution

When considering rolling over assets from an employer plan to an IRA, factors that should be considered and compared between the employer plan and the IRA include fees and expenses, services offered, investment options, when penalty free withdrawals are available, treatment of employer stock, when required minimum distribution begin and protection of assets from creditors and bankruptcy.  Investing and maintaining assets in an IRA will generally involve higher costs than those associated with employer-sponsored retirement plans. You should consult with the plan administrator and a professional tax advisor before making any decisions regarding your retirement assets.

We’re here to help Request a Consultation

Call us 1-877-493-4727

Get retirement and rollover guidance

Wells Fargo has answers to your 401(k) rollover questions.

Our retirement tools and calculators can help you get started, understand your choices, and take small, manageable steps toward your retirement goals.

Traditional IRAs

These accept pre-tax amounts from conventional types of retirement plans (i.e., 401(k), 403(b), 457 plan, profit-sharing plan, etc.). You can also make annual contributions to these accounts in addition to your retirement plan at work.

Roth IRAs

These accept post-tax amounts from Roth 401(k), Roth 403(b), and Roth 457 plans. You can also make annual contributions to these accounts in addition to your retirement plan at work.