Can I Combine Multiple 401(k) Plans Into One Account?

Find out how to consolidate multiple retirement accounts and simplify your finances.  

Laura Adams, MBA

Can I Combine 401(k) Plans Into One Account?Q: "My husband and I both have two 401(k) accounts from previous employers. Can I combine all four of them into one account in order to simplify our finances?" 

A: You can't combine retirement accounts owned by different people, even if you're married. The only exceptions to this rule are death and divorce.

But you can combine accounts in your own name by doing a rollover. A rollover is a tax-free transfer of assets from one retirement account to another. For instance, if you have a new 401(k) plan that allows rollovers, you could move funds from one or more old 401(k)s into the new plan. 

Another great option (whether you have a new 401(k) or not) is to rollover old 401(k)s into an IRA of your choice. Having your retirement money in a rollover IRA gives you the flexibility to choose from a wide variety of investment options. 

If you simply leave money in an ex-employer's retirement plan, you will continue to enjoy the benefit of having taxes deferred on annual growth in the account until retirement. However, you won't be able to make any new contributions to the account. 

For more information, read or listen to How to Handle Retirement Rollovers Correctly and What Is an IRA Rollover?


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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a trusted and frequent source for the national media. Her book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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