The Limits of a 1035 Exchange

There is a catch though. You can only move the funds between similar accounts. You can’t move your savings from a non-qualified annuity to a qualified annuity, for example. Money in a variable rate annuity can’t move to a fixed rate annuity. Your retirement savings can only leave a fund that’s performing poorly or has high fees into a similar fund that should give you better returns.

You might also have to pay surrender charges. They can be quite steep, especially in the first years of an annuity. They often start around 8 percent then fall during each year of the annuity. So you could buy an immediate, fixed-rate annuity for $100,000 then find that you needed to take the money back after a year. The surrender charges could cost as much $8,000—more than the annuity would have given you over the course of that year.

The good news is that if you’re moving funds within the same insurance company, the company will often waive the surrender fee. It’s another issue that you need to check, though, before you make your decision.