How to Change IRA Institutions

by Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017
Change IRA Institutions

Items you will need

  • Signatures from your employer
  • Authorization of transfer
  • IRA account application

How to Change IRA Institutions. IRA institutions manage and distribute funds for IRAs, or individual retirement accounts. There may come a time when you think it's time to change IRA institutions for any number of reasons. It may be a personal choice or a change in your employer. Either way, you can make the change to a new institution happen smoothly and without compromising your funds.

Step 1

Make an IRA change as a part of a rollover from one plan to another. You can roll funds from an established 401(k) to your own IRA if you leave a job, as well as roll funds from a previous employer's plan to your new employer's plan. In both of these situations, you can usually avoid federal taxes if you make the transfers within 60 days of the job change.

Step 2

Calculate the fees associated with the new account, as they vary among IRA institutions. There may be service charges attached to opening a new account that can make a significant dent in your retirement funds. Check the required minimums, too, and make sure you have enough funds to open the account.

Step 3

Make sure that the assets in your previous account are liquid (not tied up in funds that cannot be accessed in cash). Check with the broker to see if you must request assets be placed in other parts of your portfolio before withdrawing the funds to avoid penalties.

Step 4

Apply for a new IRA account with your chosen financial institution or brokerage firm.

Step 5

Sign an authorization form with the new institution to transfer your old funds to your new account. You will also need to get a signature guarantee since, even with the authorization form, a company won't process your transfer without that guarantee.

Step 6

Be certain you have all the required signatures. When rolling over employer-sponsored plans, many companies require the human resources department to sign off, indicating how much of your money is vested. Not having this information can delay the process of changing institutions.

Step 7

Keep in touch with both institutions so that you can confirm that the change has taken effect. Though you should receive written notification, contacting both parties directly can allay your concerns.

Tips

  • Make sure you provide your new institution with a recent statement so it can be checked against the information on your application. This can also avoid problems like trying to mix IRA accounts without converting the funds first.

Warnings

  • Some companies don't guarantee that all your retirement money can come with you when leave the job. Make sure you know how much of your money is invested and locked into an account before changing positions.