Complacency is the bane of retirement investing. It's really tempting to open an account, make investment decisions and just forget the whole thing. Vigilance is everything, as in any financial matter. If your investments are not performing as you thought they would, you might be inclined to move the assets to a trustee with more amenable options. You might also want to make a change due to divorce or to roll funds from one IRA to another. How often you can change trustees depends on the type of transfer.
When you move IRA funds from one trustee to another without taking a distribution -- that is, without having a check made out to you -- you've enacted a trustee-to-trustee transfer. Because you never get your hands on the money, the transaction is not taxed. You can do a trustee-to-trustee transfer as often as you wish.
Investment Strategy Change
If you elect to change trustees to take advantage of more attractive investment options, you can ask your existing IRA trustee to transfer the funds directly to the new trustee. You can make this kind of transfer as often as you like. No taxes will be assessed.
If you need to transfer all or part of your IRA assets as a result of a divorce decree, you can also request a direct transfer of your spouse's assets to a new account. This transaction is also tax-free and can be effected at any time.
When you move funds from one IRA to another and ask to have a check made out to you, you are effecting what the IRS terms a rollover. As long as you deposit the funds with the new trustee within 60 days of receiving them, you can still avoid taxation. You can only do a rollover once per calendar year. So if you roll funds from one IRA to another in November 2013, you can't change trustees again until November 2014.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.