I left my old employer on 3/10/2014, however, I left my 401k there. Today I received an email indicating that they over-paid into my account $500 and that i need to identify which funds I want to liquidate in order to pay them back. While i certainly have no problem giving them the money back, what do i need to do to protect myself? I plan on rolling that old 401K over to my new employer in August of this year. They said I have to make a decision by Wednesday (gave me 48 hours). Can they even do that? Can they take the $ out without my giving written permission?

  • They can only take back unvested moneys. What does it mean "over-paid"? Who sent you the letter? Doesn't sound right to me.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 12:58
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    My office mananger. She said they "over-funded" my account by $496. Here is a quote from her letter "Be advised that under our 401K Plan, you, as a participant, are unable to liquidate any monies in your account. The Trustees of the LCM 401K Plan must handle this for you. As a participant, you can only change your investments in the plan but cannot liquidate unless done by the Trustees of the Plan. SO, unless you designate the fund or funds in which you wish us to liquidate the $496.49, we will take an equal amount out of each of your four funds".
    – Wendy
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 13:04
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    @Wendy I suggest you asking them to provide explanation, and in writing, not in email. Make sure you understand the explanation and agree to it. There's also no reason for the 2 days time limit, and I believe if they take vested funds form your account without your authorization that would be theft. But talk to a lawyer.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 13:21
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    "what do i need to do to protect myself?" Protect yourself against what? Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 15:18
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    When I left a former employer, the HR benefits coordinator was able to remove the un-vested employee match on her own time with no action required from me; it was removed in the same proportions as my final contribution selections. Is this a similar case, except your ex-employer is offering you the courtesy of choosing a different set of ratios? While my HR coordinator took a few months to remove the unvested amount, she did not take over a year. The 2014 date in the post strikes me as odd.
    – user662852
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


You definitely need more information. This could be a number of things. First of all I don't understand the reason for the 48 hours. I would definitely ask them to clarify why this is the case. Why are they noticing this a year later?

You are indeed a participant in the company 401k. the plan is theirs, and you are agreeing to play by their rules when you enroll. I would call HR and get more info.

This could be excess contribution or a "bank error in your favor" that they have found. It sounds like they over matched your 401k sense they want the money back.

  • OP is long gone. You are right, she should have insisted on more details. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 16:36

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