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If they own company stock within the 401k it is possible that there may be some restrictions, and there can be some major tax complication if you don't handle company stock just right.

Your mention of a yearly withdrawal rate really makes it sound like it was put into some sort of annuity that was invested in stocks and that might have restrictions.

At most financial companies all the phone conversations are recorded so if they mislead him or if he instructed them do something and it ended getting set up differently then he can raise enough "heck" and they will review the recording of the phone conversations and they can correct their mistakes.

He may want to get the HR department at his old company involved if that is possible because the company may be more responsive to them.

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