My mom past away and somthing not right with her 401 k

My mom past away and somthing not right with her 401 k
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#1

My mom died this past November at age 62 and has a 401 k how do i go about to find out how much is in it because after they reopened another account for her estate then i could see what it was and i kno it shoukd have been more how to find out how much it was before they made a seperate account for it to go into before i could see how much it is and why they created another account then gave me access to it? Seems funny to me and my mom 62 years old and worked all her life should be more than a few hundred bucks i had more than that in my 401k and only worked 15 years


#2

So sorry you’ve lost your mom, @jmhampton205. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with her retirement account, but it’s possible the 401(k) plan required the money to be rolled out of the account into what’s known as an inherited IRA. (Some 401(k) plans allow heirs to keep the money where it is, but others don’t.) Normally, an inherited IRA account is a good thing. People who inherit retirement funds are required to start taking some money out of them and pay income taxes on that money, but an inherited IRA allows you to stretch that process over your own lifetime. That can be really good, because the money you don’t have to withdraw can keep earning tax-deferred returns for you.

You should be able to ask the executor for an accounting that shows how much money was in the 401(k) before it was transferred. That’s also something that should be filed with the court if her estate is going through the court process known as probate. (The executor is supposed to account for all assets, including retirement funds, and all debts.)

It’s possible your mom wasn’t able to save that much, even after a lifetime of work. Many people don’t put aside very much for retirement and a lot of folks tap into their retirement funds–cashing them out when they change jobs, or taking out loans or withdrawals to pay other debts. If your mom was a super-good saver and good with money in general, then there may be reason to be suspicious. If she had a lot of debts or financial problems, though, or stretches of unemployment, it’s possible she was just wasn’t able to put or keep much in her 401(k).

Please let us know what you find out, and if you have any follow-up questions. This is a tough time for you and we want to help if we can.


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