Q:

How do you search for unclaimed 401(k) accounts?

A:

Quick Answer

Lost or unclaimed 401(k) accounts may be discovered by looking for account paperwork, tax return information and checking unclaimed property lists, as Bankrate suggests. Unclaimed accounts may be difficult to locate, but paperwork and government listings allow retirees or family members of deceased persons to locate balances and contact information.

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Full Answer

Retirement account information is typically listed on account statements and may provide contact information for plan administrators, as Bankrate claims. Plans are often required to file information for tax purposes, and the IRS may also have information about specific 401(k) plans. W-2 forms from past tax returns list employer names, and these past employers may be contacted for help accessing retirement funds. The U.S. Department of Labor offers a database of abandoned retirement plans, and many other government agencies provide lists of abandoned property.

Plan administrators may terminate an investor's participation in the 401(k) program, but current funds do belong to the retiree or account beneficiary, as National Unclaimed Property Associates reports. Some 401(k) funds are protected by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and continue to earn returns even if the employer no longer exists. Some retirees may also be notified by the Social Security Administration of any lost accounts when they reach retirement age.

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