How to Transfer an IRA Out of TIAA-CREF

How to Transfer an IRA Out of TIAA-CREF
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You may want to transfer your IRA out of The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF). It could be that you have separated from your employer or have retired. Or perhaps you prefer to make changes in your investment models.

The great news is that you may be able to do that. So, whatever your reasons, you need to know how to perform a TIAA-CREF rollover to another institution that you prefer without getting into trouble with the IRS.

How to Transfer an IRA Out of TIAA-CREF

Below are the steps you should take when transferring an IRA from your TIAA-CREF account.

1. Determine What Plan You Want Next

Think about the kind of retirement plan you want to move to next. Do you want to move into a 401(k), Roth IRA, self-directed IRA, 403(b), etc.? Typically, transfers happen between two similar plans. But you may prefer other plans instead. In that case, you should prepare to do a rollover.

The kind of retirement plan you move to will depend on your retirement plans or whether you intend to work for another employer or become self-employed. For example, if you want to go into business for yourself, a solo 401(k) may work. On the other hand, if you prefer to work for a non-profit, you will most likely move to a 403(b) retirement plan.

2. Decide Where You Will Go

Before you transfer your IRA out of TIAA-CREF, you need to determine where you intend to take your assets. It would help if you researched the top retirement companies first. It would be best to do so while considering whether they offer the retirement plan you are interested in.

For example, if you want a solo 401(k) because you intend to run your own business, the top companies may include Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, Vanguard and TD Ameritrade, among others.

On the other hand, if you want to roll over TIAA CERF to IRAs, you would consider transferring your IRA to the top companies with these types of accounts, such as Betterment, E*TRADE and SoFi. When doing your research, pay close attention to:

  • The transaction fees
  • The management services available
  • The company reputation
  • The kind of retirement investments they permit

3. Apply for a Direct Transfer From TIAA

Before applying for a transfer, you need to contact your employer and find out what you need to do. And if you have a new employer and want a different plan, find out if the employer’s plan accepts rollovers.

TIAA does offer online forms that allow you to transfer your IRA to another financial institution directly. However, the document does not allow for transfers from a TIAA traditional account.

When you elect to use the direct transfer form, you should fill in all the details. These include your name, TIAA and CREF numbers, the date and amount of funds you would like to transfer and the name and address of the new financial institution you would like to move your IRA assets to.

Once you sign the form digitally, you can upload it according to the instructions. Alternatively, you can print the form, fill in the details by hand and mail it to the address the form provides.

Processing will take up to ​seven business days​ after your forms have been received.

4. Apply for Direct Transfer From New Investment Company

You can also apply to transfer your funds from your TIAA-CREF IRA to your new investment company, provided you have opened a compatible retirement account with them. In such a case, you should call the representative, tell them what you need and they will provide you with all the relevant instructions.

For example, suppose you want to perform a transfer or TIAA-CREF rollover to Fidelity to a new employer-sponsored plan. In that case, you will contact the latter’s representatives and request the appropriate form.

Ensure you fill in the transfer form with all the needed details and return it to Fidelity by mailing it physically or uploading it digitally, depending on what options are available. Your new custodian will process the transfer by sending the request to TIAA, who will then send your check together with the transfer request.

Once the transfer or rollover of TIAA to Fidelity process is complete, Fidelity will invest your IRA funds based on your instructions.

When physically mailing your forms, opt for secure delivery methods to ensure your private information is safe. And remember, it is always better to do a trustee-to-trustee or direct transfer. So long as the monies from your TIAA-CREF IRA do not go through you, there is minimal risk of paying taxes or penalties since you cannot mistakenly keep back some of the distributions. But the moment you receive that money, even if it is for a short time, you may have to pay taxes. And if you keep back some of it, you may be hit by the early withdrawal penalty.