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My company was recently acquired and I have the option to rollover into an IRA or to do nothing and allow the 401k to roll into the new company's 401k plan. I would rather roll it into an IRA so that I have more investment options. My question is whether this sort of thing can be done anytime or only during an event such as this or leaving a company?
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The answer depends on the rules of your specific plan. Federal law allows rollovers, but most companies do not allow them except under a few circumstances. Usually--

1. When you have left the company.
2. Sometimes but rarely when you reach certain plateaus of years of service
3. When the company is changing custodians or is acquired generally after some major change.

Most prefer the IRA due to the freedom to manage your own investments. An exception can be low cost 401ks with excellent investment options. But most 401k are whatever the employer offers. Take it or leave it.

It is rare that you would be able to rollover your 401k at a time of your choice in the future. Usually you get short windows to decide. After which you must stay until you leave the company.
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Your company actually wasn't "acquired." If it were, you wouldn't have the option to take your money from the plan (the plan would have been "acquired" as part of the deal and no distributable event would occur. Your company sold it's assets (including its workforce) to the acquirer - but will remain in existence until dissolved, etc. It also is keeping the plan and apparently is terminating it. Your leaving the employ of your company and going to work for the acquirer is what gives you the right to a distribution (even though you may never notice the change in employment). I only mention this because it governs the timing of the rollover/distribution.

What it appears is happening is that when your current employer terminates the plan, they have made the decision that the "default" election is to roll over the accounts to the new employer's plan UNLESS you take a distribution and roll it over to an IRA. If this is the case, the IN MOST CASES, since the "roll over" to the new employer's plan is a "roll over" you probably will have a right of distribution of "roll over" account balances at any time (check with the new employer - it's not required to allow distributions of roll over money, but virtually all do). New money contributed to the new employer plan will be subject to the distribution rules of that plan, but the "distributable event" rules of the tax code and ERISA (which limit distributions of 401(k) money to termination of employment, termination of the plan, or, if the plan so provides (and it doesn't have to), attainment of age 59-1/2 (and most plans do allow this, but not all).
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There are hundreds of companies that allow for "in-service" rollovers. I always recommend an individual check with their retirement department to know for sure and to find out any restrictions (usually age is a restriction).

A very short list to give you an idea:

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