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IRAs are not necessarily exempt in bankruptcy. It depends largely on state law in that debtors can choose between federal exemptions and state exemptions. There is no federal bankruptcy exemption for IRAs, so if protection is desired, the debtor must choose state exemptions. Some states don't exempt IRAs from creditors' claims, some do to a limited extent, and some fully exempt IRAs.

Here's a link that breaks this down by state:
http://www.ici.org/issues/99_state_ira_bnkrptcy.html

It appears to me that the only reason one would ever move money from a self-directed rollover IRA into a 401k would be to keep it away from creditors. So someone who lives in one of the states where IRAs are completely protected from creditors' claims would have little incentive to keep rollover and non-rollover traditional IRA accounts separate. (I don't live in such a state, but I'm tempted to merge mine anyway to simplify bookkeeping and reduce transaction costs.)
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