Author Topic: Moving a Rollover IRA?  (Read 1990 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Moving a Rollover IRA?
« on: June 08, 2018, 10:01:04 PM »
I am furious with Merrill Lynch right now and could use some guidance on how to transfer my husband's Rollover IRA.   He had a 401k with Merrill Lynch with his former employer.  When he left about 6 months ago, he called and asked to move the funds into a Rollover IRA. 

He is not financially savvy and not interested in learning, so I manage all of our finances.  We had his 401K invested in a Target 2040 fund because he felt comfortable with that, so when he called to do the rollover he asked to be invested in the same target date fund. 

Fast forward 6 months and he has never looked at the account, so I logged in to see the balance.  They had 77% of his funds in a money market account and the remaining 23% split between some asia-pacific fund and another "value" fund I've never heard of.  Grrrrrr....even if he did not explain his wishes clearly, there is absolutely no way he would have asked for the funds to be invested this way. 

For now, I'm moving everything into a Vanguard Total Market Index (VTI - I think?).  But I really want to move his account to Vanguard or Fidelity.   

How do I go about getting this account transferred?   I have all my accounts with Fidelity and have been very happy with their online tools and support.  But I'm thinking it might be better for him to move to Vanguard so we don't have all of our investments with one brokerage and given their low fees it seems to make sense.

Can he just call Vanguard (with me also on the phone) and just ask to move the account over?   Is there any paperwork we should need beyond just his ML account number? 


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Moving a Rollover IRA?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 11:06:13 PM »
I wouldn't worry about having everything at one firm. We have everything at Fidelity because we have workplace plans there.

I would start by talking to the firm you want to transfer to since they're the one with the most incentive to help you. They can probably call Merrill Lynch while you're on the phone with them and get the ball rolling. Fidelity has a rep that visits my wife's employer, so we met with them in person and they helped move her old plan from another provider.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Moving a Rollover IRA?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 12:41:33 AM »
Yes, you can call Vanguard and they will help you move your husband's IRA to them.  They will walk you through the entire process and will deal with Merrill Lynch on your behalf.

You can change the investments from the goofy ones to VTI or whatever you like either before or after the transfer, whichever is easiest and makes the most sense to you.

I will mention also that if Merrill Lynch invested your funds differently than what you asked for and you did not give them explicit permission to choose investments for you, then you can demand they make you whole.  They should do this by exchanging the goofy investments for the ones you would have made at the time retroactive to when you did the rollover and made the original request.  In other words, if back on that date you wanted to buy 1,000 shares of a Vanguard Target Fund that was selling for $50 at the time, then they should take the goofy investments out of your account and put in 1,000 shares of that Vanguard Target Fund even if that fund is now trading at $75.  They also should reimburse you for any dividends you would have received but did not.

If they balk at making you whole, then you can explain that you're happy to involve the SIPC, the CFPB, your State Attorney General, and the Better Business Bureau.

That all being said, I just reread your post and noticed that you didn't check the account for six months, so that was a mistake on your part and so that may limit your ability to be made whole.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Moving a Rollover IRA?
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2018, 05:35:01 AM »
If Vanguard doesn’t give the level of service you need, Schwab is very good at doing all the legwork in these situations, will reimburse you any fees ML charges you, and has funds as good as Vanguard’s (SCHB is their equivalent to VTI). A relative got poor service from Vanguard in a case like this, which was probably a single bad or new employee, but found Schwab very responsive and helpful. Fidelity’s funds are fine too, at least in the 401k I have with them.


  • Bristles
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Re: Moving a Rollover IRA?
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2018, 07:35:40 AM »
I rolled over an IRA from TIAA to Vanguard a while ago and I gotta say it was about as confusing a process as I've ever undertaken.  People at TIAA said I could do it one way, Vanguard said another.   Would ask the folks at TIAA about the Vanguard way and they wouldn't know what I was talking about.  It certainly didn't help that I had little idea of what I was doing and probably not explaining things well.

I was finally was able to get TIAA to send me "FBO Penn42" checks that I then forwarded to Vanguard with written instructions to put XXX check in XXX account and so on.  I guess that might be the manual way of getting it done, but it ended up working.  Hopefully it isn't such a hassle for you.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Moving a Rollover IRA?
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2018, 07:43:05 PM »
If you rollover an account and don't look at it for 6 months, then do not be upset that it wasn't invested the way you wanted. He should have checked it within a week or 2, or you should have. It's not the company's fault if you don't do what you're supposed to. Laziness is not an excuse. Consider yourself facepunched. Now get your act together.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Moving a Rollover IRA?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 01:09:06 PM »
I rolled over my terrible Merrill Lynch 401(k) to Fidelity years ago and it was like ML went out of their way to make it a hassle. I had to mail in notarized forms. It was a complete PITA, but since they were determined to make it difficult, I made sure to dot every i and cross every t just to be sure, and it did get moved eventually. I have done 3 different rollovers and ML was the only one that was not smooth and easy.

Usually you start with Fidelity and then you have to let ML know you are moving everything. That is when ML will hassle you trying to keep your assets, or at least it was with me.

Good luck.


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