Having even a general understanding of the rules that apply to your retirement account can help you effectively manage your transactions and avoid errors. The following are some of the publications and literature that can be helpful in this area:
  • Retirement planning literature from your employer. Your employer is required to provide you with an explanation of the rules, regulations and terms that govern your retirement account. This includes a summary plan description. Your summary plan description should be written in non-technical language, and cover issues such as eligibility for participating in the plan and receiving employer contributions, requirements for making withdrawals and rules governing any loan provisions.

  • Retirement planning literature from your financial institution. If you establish IRAs and other retirement accounts, the financial institution is required to provide with information explaining the rules that govern those accounts, including contribution limits, deductibility rules, tax treatment of distributions and when penalties would apply.

  • Retirement education sessions offered by your employer (if any). Employers often hold enrollments and educational seminars for their employees, so as to help ensure that the employees understand their options for saving for retirement under the employer's retirement plan, the benefits of contribution to the plan if salary deferral contributions are allowed, their investment options, the rules regarding withdrawals and, in some cases, the tax impact of distributions as well as distributions strategies that could be considered to minimize tax impact on withdrawals.

  • IRS Publication 590, available at www.irs.gov. This publication provides a general explanation of the rules that govern traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs and your salary deferral contributions to SIMPLE IRAs. Topics covered include eligibility for making contributions, requirements for establishing IRAs, determining eligibility for deducting contributions and claiming the non-refundable tax credit, tax treatment for distributions, when the early distribution penalty applies and how it can be avoided, as well as required minimum distribution rules and penalties that can apply for ineligible contributions.

  • Retirement tutorials at www.investopedia.com. These cover traditional IRAS, Roth IRAS, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, qualified plans and 403(b) accounts. In addition to explaining the technical rules that govern these retirement accounts, the Investopedia tutorials provide retirement planning tips including tips for managing your investments, retirement income planning and estate planning tips.
While it is important and beneficial to educate yourself on how your retirement accounts work, working with professionals can help to ensure that you maximize the benefits available under your accounts, avoid penalties, and minimize income and estate tax.


Next: The Complete Guide To Retirement Planning For 40-Somethings: Conclusion »



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