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How does one go about tracking down 401(k)s from previous companies? Is there a more convenient method than trying to get in contact with HR from these past companies? I wouldn't mind paying for a service if it meant less hassle.

In addition to this, I know I've opened a Roth IRA in the past, but do not recall whether that account is still even open, and whether I'm allowed to open a new Roth account. I don't want to accidentally over-deposit. Essentially this is an area of my finances that I don't have managed as well as my bank / personal investment account, and want to begin better managing.

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  • I would think that if you know the custodian (e.g. Fidelity, Schwab, TDA, etc.), contacting them would be more productive than contacting the previous employer. Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 18:57

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This is a partial answer regarding IRAs, the second part of your question. You can open as many as you want. The only thing the IRS cares about is your contributions. If the sum of contributions to all your IRAs adheres to the annual limit, you are fine. So while you should try to find your old Roth IRA, you could still open a new one and contribute to it.

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I am assuming that the company doesn't close the account if they go years without being able to contact you. They do this with bank accounts. Just in case they do close these retirement account, contact the state(s) where you have lived to see if any money has been turned over. Each US state has a website where you can find unclaimed funds.

You will have to reach out to your former employers to see how you can login to your retirement accounts. You can also try and find if the company running the retirement account has a record of your account. It is not unusual for an employer to switch the location of the funds over the years. So you might have no choice but to talk to the employer.

If the 401(k) balance is small it is possible that after a year or two they sent you a check so that you could move the funds into an IRA. If they did, and you never cashed it, the money could now be held by the state.

IRA accounts could be anywhere. You have to look for old statements, or old tax forms. The IRS might even have records.

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  • In particular a "Wage and Income Transcript" aka 'information return' transcript, in spite of the name used on the website, should include 5498 showing contributions to any IRA(s), and be available up to 10 years back. (It will show current contribs only in fall of the following year, probably Aug-Sep, but that shouldn't be a problem in this case.) Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 0:02
  • I will start with requesting this transcript from the IRA, then from this proceed with contacting old employers if such is necessary. Thanks for this information. Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 0:28

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