A 401k is a retirement plan that larger employers commonly offer to employees. If you follow IRS regulations, you may be able to roll over your 401k plan to another qualified retirement plan such as an Individual Retirement Account.
IRS Time Limit
You have 60 days to complete a rollover from your 401k to another retirement plan. The IRS considers rollovers outside the 60-day window to be distributions, subject to ordinary income tax and possible penalties.
A rollover occurs if you take a distribution from your 401k plan with the intent of depositing the funds into another retirement account. Your employer will withhold 20 percent of your distribution per IRS rules.
If you are still with your company, you can instruct the administrator of your 401k plan to send your funds directly to the custodian of your IRA account. This procedure is termed a trustee-to-trustee transfer and is not technically a rollover, although they share the same objective. With a transfer, there is no 60-day time limit because you do not directly receive the funds.
Direct Rollover Option
If you have separated from service with a company, you can request a direct rollover option to avoid the 60-day time limit on rollovers. A direct rollover functions just like a trustee-to-trustee transfer if you have left a company.