Many companies (including a former employer of mine) have 401(k) vesting schedules. The idea is that the employee keeps all of his/her contributions, and the employer piece has a percentage that you can only cash out if you stay with the company for a certain period of time. If I leave, that money cannot be taken, although if I return, in some situations, that money is still credited to me.
Recently, I had a situation, however, that pleasantly surprised me, but I'd like to figure out what happened. I was not vested at all in the employer contributions to my 401(k), but when the company was sold and my 401(k) transferred to a new holder of record, the employer portion was credited to me. They have since rolled it over a second time, and it still appears to be credited to me.
Why did this happen? Was it simply clerical error, or is there some situation that may have triggered a recharacterization of funds? I ask, for the simple reason I have a second 401(k) that is in a similar situation - there is a pretty healthy unvested portion. Rather than roll it over, does it make sense to wait for that company to be purchased, in the hopes that a similar "mistake" occurs?
In general, I'm curious what happens to any unvested employer contributions - are there any circumstances in which it reverts to the employee?