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401(k) basics
What is a blackout period?
What is a blackout period?

During a blackout period, participants may have limited access to 401(k) funds. Here's why and when this may occur.

Updated over a week ago

A blackout period is a duration of time when participants will have reduced control over their 401(k) accounts. This period typically occurs when 401(k) plan assets and records are being moved from one retirement service provider to another or if needed due to a change in the investments offered under the plan.

During this transition, participants may not be able to select new investments, take out a loan, or make withdrawals from the 401(k) funds.

How you are notified about a blackout period

When a blackout period occurs, such as when a 401(k) plan is being moved to Guideline, we will send blackout notices to all affected participants. Even if you are no longer with the company sponsoring the 401(k), you must receive a blackout notice if you have a balance within the plan.

Blackout notices will be sent from at least 30 but not more than 60 days before the blackout period starts. These emails will provide information on the expected beginning and end date, as well as the reason for the blackout and what will be restricted as a result.

What happens if you no longer work for the employer

If your prior employer is converting the plan to Guideline and you do not want your funds transferred, you will need to remove your assets from the plan before the transfer takes place. Depending on the provisions selected by the plan sponsor, you may be able to request a rollover or distribution of your funds before the blackout period starts.

If your assets transfer to Guideline as a non-employee, a small administrative fee of $4 per month will be deducted from your account after a 90-day grace period, following the end of the blackout. This small fee will allow you to take advantage of Guideline’s low-cost investments and professionally managed portfolios.

Upon receipt of your assets, you will have the ability to create an account and choose a portfolio, or your funds will be invested in a default portfolio based on your age and estimated time until retirement. You can make changes to your portfolio and manage your account with Guideline. However, you will not be able to contribute any new funds to the plan.

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