Moving funds left behind in a rollover

Q: A year ago, I had the proceeds from my 401(k) account transferred from one mutual fund company to another that is also offered by my employer. While most of the money was sent to the alternative company, some money stayed in my old account. It's now worth about $500. What do I do, just transfer it over too?

N.R., New York

A: According to a retirement specialist at Pioneer Group in Boston, you have three choices: Leave the account alone and let it grow; automatically transfer it over to the alternative account; or, if you are over age 59-1/2, take a cash distribution. If you take cash, however, you will be subject to taxes.

Q: I plan to vacation shortly in California. We live on the East Coast. Is it possible to get a list of ATM sites that honor both Visa and MasterCard, in case we need extra cash?

M.R., New York

A: For Mastercard call 800-424-7787, or call go to www.mastercard.com/atm. For Visa, call 800-847-2911, or go to www.visa.com, click on "consumer tips," and then go to ATM information.

Q: I just discovered that my bank has been automatically withdrawing a yearly fee of $35 from my personal account for a safe deposit box that is jointly held by my husband and me. I never gave the bank authorization to do that and I'd rather not take the money out of that account. Our bank used to be another bank, but was taken over in a buyout. What do I do?

R.S., Scotch Plains, N.J.,

A: According to John Hall, a spokesman for the American Banker Association in Washington, your new bank should not take money from your account unless authorized by you.

"By law, they have to send you a written notice about any changes to your accounts, such as payments on safe deposit boxes," Mr. Hall says.

Perhaps you inadvertently signed a form allowing the bank to take fees, or the bank notified you that unless it heard otherwise, it would make the automatic deductions. Some banks require that payments for safe deposit boxes come through debits of existing accounts. Talk to a bank officer to find out its policy on safe deposit boxes, and let him or her know how you wish to pay for it, Hall says.

Questions about finances? Write:

Guy Halverson

The Christian Science Monitor

500 Fifth Ave., Suite 1845

New York, NY 10110

E-mail: halversong@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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