Between job changes, growing families, maybe even cross-border moves, losing access or forgetting a retirement account is entirely plausible.

Retirement Tip of the Week: If you think you have money in a 401 (k) or annuity, try a few helpful resources.

“For those of us who have been with the workforce for some time, losing track of retirement assets is easier than you think,” said Larry Harris, certified financial planner with Parsec Financial Wealth Management.

Lost retirement benefits could be held in an “abandoned” 401 (k) plan or annuity, or in the form of employer-granted shares.

The first step is to check your state’s treasury, as states will hold these assets in custody after a certain number of years (varies by state). Many states have the option to search unclaimed real estate, said Christopher Lyman, a certified financial planner with Allied Financial Advisors. Pay attention to which website you are actually on – for example, a state government website ends in .gov. “Claiming the property from there is a fairly straightforward process established by the state,” he said.

After searching the Texas website, Jennifer Grant, a certified financial planner at Perryman Financial Advisory, found more than $ 100,000 in dividend checks in an individual retirement account for a client. The employer’s retirement plan included company shares, but since the retirement plan could not find the employee, the dividend checks were turned over to the state as abandoned property.

Try searching by any name, said Sarah Carlson, certified financial planner and founder of the Fulcrum Financial Group.

Another option is to call the company or financial services company directly when you have this information. One of Grant’s clients left a 401 (k) plan with a former company in the 1980s, all of which were invested in company stocks. “It took a number of phone calls to track it down, but we were both surprised that the company’s $ 40,000 stock was now worth $ 400,000,” she said.

“These are not typical, but the numbers are so impressive that I always look up if the client thinks they left money behind when they changed jobs,” Grant said. “In 2021, it’s pretty easy to roll over a 401 (k). It wasn’t that easy in the 80s and 90s and now these workers are retiring. ”

If that doesn’t work, there are some third-party providers out there that could do the job for you, although they may take some of the money. You also want to make sure that they are legitimate, reputable, and safe. So do some research before agreeing to share sensitive information like your social security number and previous work experience.

Gregory Giardino, a certified financial planner at JM Franklin & Company, said one of his clients had used the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators on not to find lost stocks. Curated the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, a US agency that monitors retirement assets a list of other ways to find lost benefits and accounts.

Don’t you think you’ve lost money, but fear that one day you might lose track of it? The best practice is to write everything down; B. a personal financial statement listing all assets and liabilities. There you can fill in information about the balances of your numerous retirement accounts and update them from year to year, Harris said.

Keep bank statements or records from an employer showing what benefits you are entitled to in retirement. Some workers may want to consolidate their retirement accounts as they age or change jobs. However, whether this strategy works or not depends on the retirement goals and plans, Giardino said. For example, some accounts may have more investment opportunities than others.

For many workers, it is probably worth the time to see if there is any “lost” money out there. “It seems to be the norm these days for employees to lose track of their accounts and often have benefits they didn’t realize, such as: B. a profit-sharing plan or other type of qualifying retirement plan such as a 401 (k). “Said Carlson.

Want more actionable tips for your retirement savings journey? Read MarketWatch’s Retirement Hacks Column