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Retirement accounts

Rollover Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

If you have a retirement plan account with a former employer, you have choices for what to do with the assets, including:1


  1. Leave the assets in your former employer’s plan
  2. Withdraw the assets in a lump-sum distribution2,3
  3. Roll over all or a portion of the assets to a traditional IRA
  4. Move the assets to your new employer’s retirement plan
  5. Convert all or a portion of the assets to a Roth IRA


Each has different advantages and disadvantages in terms of:


  • investments
  • fees
  • withdrawal rules
  • required minimum distributions
  • taxes (particularly with reference to employer stock)
  • protection from creditors


A Merrill advisor can review these choices with you in the context of your goals and financial situation to help you decide what might be appropriate for you.

Leave the assets in your former employer’s plan

Withdraw the assets in a lump-sum distribution

Roll over all or a portion of the assets to a traditional IRA

Move the assets to your new employer’s retirement plan

Convert all or a portion of the assets to a Roth IRA

3 reminders:

  • Do you fully understand the choices available to you for assets in a former employer’s retirement plan?
  • Have you discussed the choices with your tax advisor?
  • If you don’t use all the assets during your lifetime, would you like to make them part of the legacy you leave behind?

The choice is yours and we’re here to help

Ultimately, your choice depends on your financial situation, goals and priorities. A Merrill advisor can help you understand how your choice can help meet your retirement goals.


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When we make recommendations regarding securities or investment strategies (including as to rollovers and account types) with respect to retirement assets, we are a fiduciary within the meaning of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and/or Section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code, as applicable.


1 You have choices about what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts. Depending on your financial circumstances, needs and goals, you may choose to roll over to an IRA or convert to a Roth IRA, roll over an employer-sponsored plan from your old job to your new employer, take a distribution, or leave the account where it is. Each choice may offer different investments and services, fees and expenses, withdrawal choices, required minimum distributions, tax treatment (particularly with reference to employer stock), and different types of protection from creditors and legal judgments. These are complex choices and should be considered with care.


2 If any portion of your employer plan account balance is eligible to be rolled over and you do not elect to make a direct rollover (a payment of the amount of your employer plan benefit directly to an IRA), the plan is required by law to withhold 20% of the taxable amount. This amount is sent to the Internal Revenue Service as federal income tax withholding. State tax withholding and a 10% early-withdrawal additional tax also may apply. If you timely complete an indirect rollover, you can work with your tax advisor to obtain a refund from the IRS when you file your tax return for the taxable year.


Certain assets may be eligible for Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) tax treatment when distributed from an employer's plan. Please consult your tax advisor to discuss how this may impact you.  


4 Effective 1/1/2023, the required beginning date is April 1 of the year after you turn age 73.  You are required to take an RMD by December 31 each year after that. If you delay your first RMD until April 1 in the year after you turn 73, you will be required to take two RMDs in that year.  You may be subject to additional taxes if RMDs are missed.  Please see your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.


5 Distribution subject to immediate 20% federal tax withholding, plus applicable state tax and possibly a 10% early-withdrawal additional tax if you are under age 59½ or under age 55 and separated from service. You may owe additional taxes when you file your income tax return with the IRS.


6 If eligible.


7 Contingent on specific plan rules.


8 Distributions from a Roth IRA are not subject to federal income tax, provided you have satisfied a five-year holding period and at least one of the following applies: (i) you are 59½ or older; (ii) you are a qualified first-time home buyer (lifetime limit of $10,000); (iii) you are disabled; or (iv) the distribution is a payment after your death to your beneficiary or estate.


9 Original Roth IRA account owners are exempt from taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). Beneficiaries are required to take RMDs from inherited IRAs. A spouse beneficiary may elect to treat an inherited Roth IRA as his or her own and would not have an RMD requirement during his or her lifetime. Beneficiaries may be required to take RMD from inherited Roth IRAs dependent on decedent date of death. Beneficiary distributions are complex. Consult your tax advisor for more information on your personal circumstances.


10 Effective 2024, RMDs will no longer be required for designated Roth accounts within qualified plans for the life of the original account owner.


This material does not take into account a client’s particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy. Merrill offers a broad range of brokerage, investment advisory (including financial planning) and other services. There are important differences between brokerage and investment advisory services, including the type of advice and assistance provided, the fees charged, and the rights and obligations of the parties. It is important to understand the differences, particularly when determining which service or services to select. For more information about these services and their differences, speak with your Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor.


If you open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) with us, depending on the services you choose, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated will act in the capacity as an investment advisor or a broker, and our role and obligations will vary as a result.


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