My 401(k) Rollover: From Employer Plan to Vanguard

(image via howstuffworks)

Since my last day at the day job, one of the very first things on my list of things to do (aside from finding another source of income of course) was to get my 401(k) out of the not so great employer-sponsored plan and into Vanguard, where I keep my Roth IRA.  I LOVE Vanguard (and will tell anyone I meet!) so I couldn’t wait to get my money there.

Step 1: Call current administrator

I had to call the plan administrator, and they had a fairly annoying robo-phone interface.  After I managed to follow the directions to get through it, I was unable to do anything due to not being “registered for phone access.”  Arggggggggggggggg.  I pressed 0 at that point and was immediately transferred to the “Customer Service Representative line.”  Bad elevator music, but someone got on the line in 5 minutes. Forms were requested and I was informed I would have to wait approximately 48 hours for them to email me the forms…  So I waited.

Step 2: Fill out forms

Forms were received via email.  My plan administrator had most of the forms filled in so it was just a couple of things I had to check and fill out.  I don’t have a printer so I made a quick trip to the library and printed out the forms.

Step 3: Set up new Vanguard IRA account

This was probably the easiest step. Vanguard has an amazing new account wizard that I used to create a new Rollover IRA account to receive funds from my 401(k).  I filled in the account info on the forms from the 401(k) administrator.

Step 4: Mail forms back to original plan administrator

I dropped the forms in the mail and about a week and a half later the money was out of my original 401(k) and another week later into my new Vanguard IRA.  It took me about four weeks overall from the first phone call to the money being moved, but it really was pretty painless.

Quick recap of how I Rolled Over My (Former) Employer-Sponsored 401(k) into a Vanguard IRA:

  1. Call employer-sponsored plan administrator and request transfer/rollover plan to another institution
  2. Fill out forms (including account information from Vanguard)
  3. Open new Roth IRA account to receive funds through New Account Wizard
  4. Mailed forms back to plan administrator
  5. Profit!


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