How to find 401k for deceased?
If a deceased spouse, parent, or other relative left behind a lost 401(k) plan, you may be able to trace it. Here are strategies you can use to find 401(k) for a deceased person.
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administers (NAUPA), at least 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed assets, which represents billions of dollars in unclaimed assets. If you have a deceased relative who left money in a 401(k) account that you are unable to locate, there are several strategies you can use to locate the money.
You can find a 401(k) plan for a deceased person by contacting their former employer directly to see if they left money in the retirement plan. You can also find the lost 401(k)s using Beagle or on unclaimed assets databases like the Department of Labor's abandoned plan search, National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits, and FreeERISA.
How to find 401(k) for a deceased
There are several steps you can take to find unclaimed 401(k) assets of a deceased person. Here are resources you can use to find lost or missing 401(k) assets:
Beagle allows you to track all the lost 401(k) assets associated with the deceased person. Once you sign up on the website, Beagle will track down all unclaimed asset registries to find unclaimed 401(k) accounts that match the deceased person’s records.
Once Beagle recovers the missing 401(k) accounts, you can view the 401(k) results on your dashboard to see how much was recovered. Additionally, once you recover old 401(k) assets, Beagle helps you roll over the funds to an IRA so that the money can continue growing.
Contact the former employer
Gather as much information as you can about the deceased person’s former employer. If the employer is still in operation, you can reach out to the human resources department to find out if they have any records about the person, or ask them to link you to the plan administrator. Most employers try to contact their former employees when they leave the company, and it is likely that the deceased person missed out on those notifications.
If the former employer went out of business, was acquired, or merged with another company, you may have to research the new company to know the right person to contact. Your funds may have been transferred to a separate unmanaged account, or to the new company's plan administrator.
State’s Unclaimed Property agency website
In most states, lost, missing, and unclaimed assets must be transferred to the state's unclaimed property agency. This agency protects state residents by ensuring that monies owed to them are returned instead of the funds being held by the financial institutions. Also, if the deceased person was an employee of a state or local government, the state unclaimed assets agency may have some records.
Check old 401(k) statements
If you are tracking 401(k) assets of a deceased spouse, parent, or other close relatives, you can track down their old 401(k) statements. 401(k) plans send yearly statements to plan participants, either electronically or via registered mail. Once you find an old statement, check the employer’s information or plan administrator’s contacts to know who to contact. If you can’t find an old statement, reach out to former colleagues of the deceased person and ask for the employer’s contact.
If the deceased person worked in several states, use MissingMoney.com to search for the lost 401(k). This website has links to state treasurers and comptrollers who update lists of unclaimed assets regularly. If you find assets from an old 401(k) account associated with the deceased person, you will be required to fill out an online form to get the money back.
DOL’s abandoned plan database
When a company goes out of business, it is required to notify 401(k) plan participants so that they can collect any funds owed to them. If the deceased wasn't notified, you can use the Department of Labor’s Abandoned Plan Search to trace the missing 401(k). You can search the 401(k) by plan name or employer. If there is a record, you will see the plan administrator’s information, which you can use to contact the plan administrator directly.
National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits (NRURB)
The NRURB website connects employers with former employees who left retirement assets in the retirement plan. Once you open the registry, use the deceased person’s Social Security Number (SSN) to search for any retirement plans associated with the SSN. If the search returns a result, you can contact the plan administrator using the information provided. You will receive a benefit election form, which you can use to decide how you will receive the unclaimed funds.
However, if the search does not return any information, it may mean that the deceased person’s employer has not registered with the registry. Also, the registry is updated daily, and you can check the registry in the future to see if there is any new information.
If the deceased person had a 401(k) balance of more than $1,000 but less than $5,000, the former employer may have rolled over the retirement assets to a default participant IRA account.
An employer may force a rollover to the default participant IRA when the employee does not respond to notifications about payout instructions. You can search the 401(k) money on the FreeERISA database for free, but you must register an account to perform a search.
National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA)
You can search lost 401(k) funds on unclaimed.org, a search database run by NAUPA. This website helps you trace unclaimed money you may be owed, and it links you to your state’s agency for unclaimed assets.