Estate Planning 101

How to Transfer a TIAA-CREF 401(k) into a Trust

Navigate the complexities of securing your retirement savings by transferring your TIAA-CREF 401(k) into a trust. Our step-by-step guide makes this process simple, ensuring your financial stability for years to come.
February 4, 2024

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A 401(k) plan is a type of retirement account that many employers offer to their employees. Like other types of retirement accounts, a 401(k) can be transferred into a trust as a part of estate planning. This article is a step-by-step guide on how to transfer a TIAA-CREF 401(k) into a trust.

Understanding the Process

Before you can transfer a 401(k), it's important to understand the process. The transfer involves changing the ownership of the account from an individual's name to that of a trust. This requires certain documents, including the trust agreement and the trustee's identification, and the completion of specific forms provided by the financial institution.

Step-by-Step Guide on Transferring a TIAA-CREF 401(k) into a Trust

  1. Setting up a Trust: The first step is to set up a trust. Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, you can do this online or with the help of an attorney. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the type of trust you need.
  2. Gathering the necessary documents: Gather all necessary documents required to transfer the 401(k) into a trust. These include a certified copy of the trust agreement, proof of the trustee's authority, and identification documents.
  3. Contacting TIAA-CREF: Next, inform TIAA-CREF about your intention to transfer your 401(k) to a trust. You can do this by contacting their customer service at 1-800-842-2252 (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET), and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET)). You can also visit their official website for more information.
  4. Completing the required forms and tasks: TIAA-CREF will provide you with the necessary forms to complete the transfer. Keep in mind that these forms may require notarization.
  5. Confirming the transfer and updating account information: After the forms are submitted and processed, TIAA-CREF will transfer the ownership of the 401(k) to the trust. Make sure you update your account information and verify that everything is correct.

Tips and Precautions

Here are a few tips to ensure the process goes smoothly:

  1. Ensure all information in your trust document is accurate and up-to-date.
  2. Keep copies of all documents and forms you submit to TIAA-CREF.
  3. Make sure the trust has a Tax Identification Number (TIN). This is necessary for tax purposes.

Bear in mind that transferring a 401(k) into a trust involves changing the ownership of the account. Always consult with a legal or financial advisor to understand the implications.

The Role of TIAA-CREF in the Transfer Process

TIAA-CREF is committed to assisting its customers throughout the transfer process. Their representatives can provide guidance, necessary forms, and documentation. They also offer resources on trust management and estate planning to help you make informed decisions.


Transferring a TIAA-CREF 401(k) into a trust is a crucial step in managing your retirement assets. It ensures that your wealth is distributed according to your wishes, providing peace of mind for the future. Remember to seek professional advice during this process to avoid any legal or financial complications. Secure your financial legacy today.