Rolling over your individual retirement account allows you move your retirement money from one financial institution to another without losing any of the tax benefits of the IRA. Even if you're over 70 1/2 years old, you still can roll over your IRA to a new account whether you're looking for lower fees, finding new investment options or just consolidate various accounts.
Technically, a rollover refers to taking a distribution from one IRA and then redepositing the money in a different IRA within 60 days. As long as the entire amount makes it into the new IRA within the time limit, it doesn't matter what you do with the money in the interim. However, if you forget the deadline and more than 60 days pass, you can't complete the rollover. Alternatively, you can also move your money with a transfer, where the first bank sends the money directly to the new IRA without you touching the money. That way, you can't miss any deadlines accidentally.
Eligible Rollover Distributions
Most distributions from your IRAs can be rolled over into another IRA. However, you're limited to one rollover per year. If you've already made a rollover within the past year, you can't roll over any subsequent distributions.
Transfers aren't subject to this limit, so if you've already done a rollover but want to move your money, you aren't stuck leaving the money in the current account.
Required Minimum Distributions Not Eligible for Rollover
Starting in the year you turn 70 1/2 years old, you're required to start taking required minimum distributions from your IRA -- unless it's a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs are exempt from required minimum distributions as long as you live. You can't count any money you roll over as part of your required minimum distribution for the year.
For example, say you have $100,000 in your traditional IRA and you're required to withdraw $6,000. If you roll $100,000 into another IRA, you must take out $6,000 from the new IRA to avoid penalties for failing to take your required minimum distribution.
Failing to take a required minimum distribution results in a 50 percent penalty on the amount that you didn't withdraw. For example, if you were supposed to take out $6,000, you would owe a $3,000 penalty.