403(b) Paperwork is Out of Control - Thank You IRS

Last week I helped a client rollover a 401(k) to an IRA. The IRA was already opened and all we had to do was get online and make the distribution, a few clicks and we were done. Conversely, it could have been done over the phone in just a few minutes. For most 401(k) plans it is a simple thing now to get a rollover processed - not so for non-ERISA Government 403(b). I just finished the paperwork for a client and have my fingers crossed it will make it to all its destinations and not be rejected along the way - my estimate for time of receipt of rollover funds is anywhere from 60 - 120 days. Here is the process:

Open the IRA if it isn't already.
Contact provider of where 403(b) account is held and receive their paperwork.
Contact the TPA of employer where the client worked and find out if they require paperwork...they do. Send all the paperwork to the client to sign (this takes a few weeks to get the forms back and may or may not require a phone call to walk through it with them)
Receive paperwork back and fill it out, check for errors.
Create cover page and send both sets of paperwork (Current Vendor and TPA) to the IRA holder so that the IRA can sign that they are accepting the rollover.
Pray that the IRA provider reads the coverage and keeps the originals, signs where required and then forwards the originals to the TPA.
Pray that the TPA approves the request and doesn't require more paperwork and that the TPA actually forwards the originals to the current 403(b) vendor.
Pray that 403(b) Vendor receives back their account paperwork in good working order and an approval from the TPA to process.

As long as all those steps happen, the rollover should happen...should! Gotta love the 403(b) market.

BTW - the paperwork is having fun traveling, here is a list of its destinations:
Murrieta to Hemet
Hemet to Murrieta
Murrieta to Cincinnati
Cincinnati to Florida
Florida to North Carolina
Check goes from North Carolina to Cincinnati...


Scott Dauenhauer CFP, MSFP, AIF