How to Withdraw Money From a Merrill Lynch Retirement Account

Withdrawing funds from your Merrill Lynch individual retirement account is a simple six step process, but there's more to it than just making a request. The type of retirement account you have and when you make your withdrawal makes a big difference in how much you'll have to pay to access your funds.

How to Withdraw Money From a Merrill Lynch Retirement Account
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Provide Personal Information

To start your withdrawal you'll need a One Time Distribution form from Merrill Lynch. You must fill it out with your personal information, including your name, date of birth, phone number and Merrill Lynch retirement account number. This information must be accurate to avoid delays in getting your funds.

Provide a Reason

You must give a reason for taking a distribution. In retirement you can withdraw funds as often as you like for any reason. To access your retirement funds early, the Internal Revenue Service mandates that you must be facing what it deems an "immediate and heavy financial need," such as medical expenses, eviction and other genuine emergencies. You do not need to provide verification of any hardships when you send in the form. If it's necessary, your financial adviser or a Merrill Lynch representative will contact you.

Provide the Withdrawal Amount

Indicate how much you want to withdraw from your retirement account in the third section of the form. You are not held to any minimum or maximum withdrawal amounts unless you have a traditional IRA and are age 70 1/2 or older. In these cases the IRS requires you to withdraw a minimum amount from your accounts each year. The required minimum distribution amount varies depending on your age and how much you have in your retirement accounts. If you do not take the distribution, you will incur an additional 50 percent tax on the amount you should have taken. Merrill Lynch provides a required minimum distribution calculator, as well as an automatic required minimum distribution service to help customers determine how much they must take out. Roth IRA holders do not have to meet this requirement.

Taxes and Withholding

Funds from traditional IRAs are taxed as normal income at your tax bracket if you are at least 59 1/2 years old, while Roth IRA funds are not taxed at withdrawal. If you take distributions from your retirement accounts before you reach 59 1/2, however, you will likely face penalties for doing so. In addition to the regular income taxes you must pay upon withdrawal, the IRS also imposes a 10 percent tax penalty. Exceptions to this include using the funds for college expenses or to purchase your first home.

In either case you must indicate whether you want Merrill Lynch to withhold the required taxes from your distribution automatically or if you would rather receive the entire sum and pay the taxes yourself. Failure to pay taxes on your distributions can lead to penalties and interest on the amount due, so it may be better to have the company figure and deduct the correct amount on your behalf.

How You Want to Receive the Funds

Designate how you want to receive your distribution. Merrill Lynch customers can choose to have the funds sent to a bank account electronically or opt for a wire transfer. You can also request to have a check mailed out or have the funds sent to a third party.

Submitting the Form

Merrill Lynch customers should turn in the form by fax, mail or in person to their personal financial adviser or the local branch. Once the request is processed, you will receive your funds in the manner you specified, usually within 10 business days.