How to transfer a retirement account
Make sure you know where you intend on moving your money in advance!
As you probably know, an individual retirement account requires that you decide where your money is going to be invested in order to work with the retirement account. Essentially this is called a "custodian" for your investments. You should generally chose a safe custodian - some of the most common ones are mutual funds, savings accounts, and bonds. While you should definitely be careful as to which custodian you choose for your retirement account, don't worry! You are not stuck with the same investment until you retire.
However, unlike a normal investment, you should keep in mind that you are only allowed to transfer or "roll over" your retirement account once a year. Also, there are some very specific rules that you need to follow. It is generally a good idea to find out how to transfer a retirement account before you even begin to invest in one. That way if you ever need to do a roll over in the future, you'll be ready.
First of all, you should probably have a good idea of where you want to invest the money before you start the rollover process. The reason for this is that after you take the money out of your original IRA custodian, you'll only have 60 days to put it into the new custodian fund. If you take too long, then you will be subject to a large penalty tax - and penalties are definitely not worth the few extra days that you take!
Something to keep in mind is that if you do a roll over, you will need to report that at the end of the year. Just like anything else that is involved with your finances, you should make sure that you keep track of which custodians go with your individual retirement accounts and how much money is in each account.
If you are going to do a smaller transfer from one existing IRA to another, then it is possible that you won't even have to report your transfer. These transfers are also tax-free. This is a good idea if you do not want to change all of your money from one custodian to another, but you think that it would be a good idea to change how much money you have in each IRA.