Unclaimed 401K – How to find your lost 401K money

When you leave a job many times your 401k will stay with your previous job. But what happens to this lost 401k money if the company goes out of business or if you just forget about it? Many times these unclaimed 401k retirement accounts become lost and there are millions of dollars in unclaimed or lost 401k funds in various states.  The problem is most people don’t know how to locate these unclaimed funds. After all you can’t call anyone at the company that is now out of business. To find lost unclaimed 401k money you need to contact the 401K National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. Unclaimed 401k funds are catalog in the registry and they can help you find your unclaimed 401k.

Lost 401K

You need to follow some steps to get your lost 401k money returned:

1. Enter your social security number in the 401K National Registry Database and then perform a search. This will search the national database and find any unclaimed money which you are entitled to receive.

2. Once you enter in your SSN number to search for unclaimed money in 401k accounts registered to you, then you will be taken to a page showing you where they are and you will be able to complete the necessary paperwork to obtain your money or get it transferred to another retirement account you own.

Obtaining Unclaimed 401K is just that easy. So get out there and find any lost 401k money to which you are entitled.

Some people think that an employer can keep your 401k funds but that is not the law. All states have laws that protect the owners for lost 401K’s from losing their investment funds. Since most retirement accounts are essentially mutual funds many of the banking laws apply to them. Now while your funds are not guaranteed in a mutual fund, your 401k distribution may be in a safer investment tool and be as safe as a normal FDIC insured account. It really all depends on the choices you made when you set up your account. Of course if you did choose wisely when you choose your settings then a 401K could have grown immensely over the years and its worth a few minutes of your time trying to locate your lost 401k.

As you can see by the many comments on this page, many people forget about their 401K when they leave jobs. In most situations this will not affect your money, but it is normally a better idea to convert your 401k retirement account to one an IRA or other retirement account that has tax saving benefits.

Unless you have reached 59 years old, then you normally do not want to cash out your 401k funds as you could lost as much as 40% of your money due to taxes and penalties.  This could extend the amount of time you may need to work before you are able to retire comfortably.

It is always good advice to consult with a retirement planner before making any changes to your 401K retirement accounts. Whether they are lost or if you know exactly where your money is located.

If you have multiple retirement accounts it may make sense to combine the accounts and ensure you are allowing your money to earn the most interest available. Of course this all depends on the amount of years you may have until retirement. A qualified retirement planner can work with you and determine the best course of action. Some items to consider:

  •  How long before you want to retire?
  • How much money do you need to maintain the level of lifestyle you desire?
  • Do you intend to leave money available for your heirs or do you intend to spend it all?
  • How many years do you expect to need to draw down form your retirement accounts?
  • Are you planning on taking lump sum amounts or monthly payments?

These are just some of the questions you will need to ask your retirement planner once you have found all your 401 k funds and are making plans for your retirement.