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This seems likely to be the way I will handle it. It's not with Fidelity (it's Empower Retirement), but they do offer (and encourage) opening accounts there and rolling to them. They say that can be done quickly (overnight?).

Then I'll transfer appropriately to Etrade accounts.

Be sure you are aware of any fees to close an IRA or to transfer non-cash assets, if your money is placed in anything other than a cash account. If those fees are more than any fee to close the 401(k), you may want to go the physical check route.

Apparently financial companies prefer to be non-efficient (perhaps to allow customers to make mistakes that generate fees).

No, it's not that they're trying to be non-efficient. It's that they're trying to keep their 'Assets Under Management' (AUM) numbers up by keeping the money in an account managed by them.

Maybe I'll leave a token dollar amount to make them keep the accounts open to annoy them...

Again, be aware of any minimum required balance to avoid fees.

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