Your Guide to (Finally!) Locating Lost Retirement Accounts

Know that you have some money saved somewhere but don’t know where to start looking for it? This is a familiar story for Americans all over the country. It’s common to take the ‘I’ll deal with it later’ approach when starting a family, changing jobs, and making other major life changes. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to find a lost retirement account. 


Treasury Site 


First and foremost, we recommend looking at the treasury site for your state. After a certain period, inactive assets change hands to the state. These days, most websites have services to search for unclaimed assets, whether a 401(k) or another pension account. When using this tip, always make sure you’re using the right website since the internet is full of scammers and fake websites. For example, you should see ‘.gov’ at the end of the web address. 


From here, follow the steps on-screen or contact the department by phone if you have problems. Search online and you’ll find all sorts of stories of people recovering tens of thousands of dollars after searching their state’s website. With no owner, accounts are passed on to the state and are just awaiting contact. 


For those who have changed their name due to marriage or any other reason, ensure you search all previous names. 


Contact Financial Company 


If you remember a particular account but can’t find anything, contact the company and ask for help. Recently, we saw a story where an individual left $40,000 in a 401(k). Eventually, the money was invested in company stock, and financial experts located the account. Only this time, it contained TEN TIMES the original amount and was now worth $400,000. 


Of course, we aren’t saying that your abandoned account is now a secret pot of gold. However, it’s worth chasing down an old account even if it only contains $1,000. These days, it’s easier than ever to roll over a 401(k) account and this means that abandoned accounts are worth exploring. 


Third-Party Service 


If all else fails, consider getting in touch with a third-party service. Essentially, these are companies that have the resources and techniques to locate missing retirement accounts. Depending on the company, they will either take a percentage of the located account or charge a fee for the service. Therefore, you must do some research before going ahead with a company. Speak to the employees, read reviews online, and get recommendations. Since you’ll provide Social Security numbers and other sensitive information, you need to choose a legitimate service. 


Take a Proactive Approach NOW


What if you haven’t lost an account, but you’re worried that it will happen through all the chopping and changing that life brings? Well, one of the best tips is to take a proactive approach to your retirement account management. For starters, grab a pen and paper and keep notes of important details. Keep a file with all important accounts, balances, assets and liabilities, and other details. 


When an employer sends paperwork such as statements, add them to the file. It’s all too easy to lose letters, put each year’s statement in a different drawer around the house, and ultimately lose them when moving to a new home. 


Before consolidating accounts, speak with a financial professional. They will consider your options and provide tailored advice before you fall into a trap or make a common mistake. Since investment options change from one account to another, it may be beneficial to keep them separated (even if it means more effort to keep track of them all!). 


If you think that you might have lost retirement accounts, it’s worth exploring because it may help later in life. During the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose track of your financial accounts. It might be something simple like a profit-sharing plan, but it all helps when you eventually stop working!

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