What is a Stretch IRA?

An IRA rollover is the transfer of funds from one account into an IRA. A Rollover IRA is a retirement account capable of accepting those funds. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) permits a number of ways for individuals to transfer funds from one qualified plan to another. However, the provisions for these plans can get somewhat complicated, and navigating your way through them can be a headache.

The provisions in ERISA basically cover transfers from one type of retirement account to the next. They are designed to make it easier for those who are switching from one job to another to move their money without cashing out their 401(k) or IRA. In addition, there are a number of qualified plans that can be rolled over into an IRA, including Health Savings Accounts (HRAs).

While there are a number of reasons why someone would be interested in doing this, the most common reason is when someone changes jobs. They can either have two 401(k)s that exist in their name or roll over their old 401(k) into an IRA that would then receive distributions from their current 401(k).

Rolling Over Funds from One Traditional IRA to Another

While this is perfectly acceptable under the law, there is one stipulation that you should be aware of. Funds withdrawn from one IRA to be deposited in another must be reinvested within 60 days. Failure to comply with that requirement could open an individual up to losing their non-taxable status and perhaps being penalized for cashing out the IRA prematurely.

In addition, the IRA must be transferred in its entirety into the new account. If even a small portion of that money is withheld, then the funds could be treated as taxable.

Lastly, the action of rolling one IRA over into another can only be done once per year.

Rolling Over Funds from a Qualified 401(k) to a Traditional IRA

Funds can easily be rolled over from a 401(k) to an IRA but again there are certain restrictions. Most importantly, an individual cannot roll over any funds distributed from a 401(k) that are part of a payment schedule once the plan has kicked in. The payment schedule may be due to a hardship provision, or the individual has cashed out their 401(k) early. Either way, that money cannot be rolled over into an IRA.

Last Updated: 
April 19, 2018

Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.

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