My wife is having trouble rolling over her 401k (with ING, now Voya Financial) from her previous job into her Vanguard IRA. Apparently she needs my permission to roll the account over because it's a distribution (although we've instructed it to be a direct rollover, I still don't understand why this gets treated as a distribution...).

The problem is that they (ING/Voya) don't have the paperwork needed for me to sign because it's "with the third party administrator" which was used 20-something years ago to set up the account when her previous company was independent from its current owner. I.e.: there's no way this paperwork is going to appear.

Is there something I can do to force the issue? Of course I'm willing for her to roll it over. In fact I did all the electronic paperwork to get it started.

  • It's a law. You'll have to sign some paperwork, no big deal. Sep 8, 2014 at 19:32
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    @staticx I didn't have to sign anything for my 401k. And for her older one she didn't have to. So....no I'd say it's not a law. If you read the post the problem is that they won't provide the paperwork, essentially holding the money in that account hostage. Sep 8, 2014 at 19:34
  • @ChristopherPfohl: You are wrong, sorry. Read what the IRS has to say here - irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Sponsor/… Sep 8, 2014 at 19:35
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    Some plans require spousal approval for various items. My company is changing 401k providers and requires spousal consent if I do not select my wife as the primary beneficiary 100%. Spousal consent is not an antiquated form of sexism. Sep 8, 2014 at 19:37
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    My wife and I had to sign a similar form when I changed HSA administrators
    – Noah
    Sep 8, 2014 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


I have trouble believing "they don't have the paperwork". It should be a fairly standard document, and if they can handle your account at all they should be able to handle this. You may need to do the "if you can't do it, let me speak to your supervisor -- and if they aren't there, give me their name and contact information" routine a few times. Threaten to make a public stink about "Voya won't give us our money" if they can't fix this or tell you how to do so. Ask Vanguard to advise you on what to tell Voya. If worst comes to worst, you may need to get a lawyer involved

  • Who knows who the ex-employer's 401(k) administrator is after 20 years of neglect? If there was a HR or Benefits contact at the former employer, that could be a first step.
    – Sun
    Sep 8, 2014 at 22:04
  • If you aren't still getting reports from the 401(k) administrator, you've been REALLY careless... I have mine being monitored almost continuously via download, and if I didn't have that I'd expect, at the VERY least, quarterly statements. That should tell you who the current admin is. But, yes, if you can't get it that way asking the employer is a good next step.
    – keshlam
    Sep 9, 2014 at 1:46

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