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Beware the Retroactive QDRO

Employers know that they must honor qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) that assign a portion of a retirement benefit to a participant’s former spouse, known as an alternate payee, when the participant and alternate...more

What Does the Trust Requirement of ERISA Mean?

ERISA requires that plan assets be held in trust so that they are protected from claims of the employer. With pension plans, it is generally easy to determine when assets become plan assets and when they should be held in...more

Not all Plans can Establish a Shortened Limitations Period for Filing Lawsuit

I recently blogged about a case in which a plan had established a shorter period of time (one year deadline) for filing a lawsuit, rather than relying on the state statute of limitation (six years) which would otherwise have...more

Is Your Severance Policy an ERISA Plan?

Severance plans are generally covered under ERISA, but it is not always easy to distinguish an ERISA-covered severance plan from a non-ERISA severance policy. There are advantages and disadvantages to being an ERISA-covered...more

Participants in Top Hat Plans Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies

So-called “Top Hat” plans are nonqualified deferred compensation plans for a select group of management or highly compensated employees. These executive compensation arrangements are exempt from many ERISA provisions, but are...more

Don’t Play Hide the Ball with Your Claims Procedure

ERISA does not have a statute of limitations for lawsuits brought by participants to check claim benefits under the plan. Instead, courts borrow from similar state statutes of limitations. In a decision two years ago, the US...more

A Summary Plan Description Can be a Plan Document

In a decision issued a couple of years ago, the United States Supreme Court held that a summary plan description that differed from the plan document could not be enforced as the plan document. The Court said that the summary...more

Using Your IRA to Buy a Business: Still a Risky Strategy

I blogged in the past about decisions in which taxpayers have used assets in their IRA to finance a new business. This structure is sometimes known as a ROBS or rollover for business startups. In 2013, the tax court held that...more

Are Top Hat Plans Entitled to a Discretionary Standard of Review?

Many years ago the Supreme Court decided that qualified retirement plans that gave their fiduciaries discretion to determine plan benefits were entitled to have their decisions, reviewed by a court under a generous “abuse of...more

Internet Posting of SPD is Insufficient

Employers know that they must prepare and distribute a summary plan description (SPD) for their ERISA benefit plans, including retirement benefits, health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance. Because of the...more

Another Way To Become Personally Liable To A Multiemployer Plan

I have blogged in the past about individuals and businesses that are not signatories to a collective bargaining agreement being found liable for withdrawal liability imposed by multiemployer pension plans (plans jointly...more

Best To Save Plan Documents Until All Retirees And Beneficiaries Are Dead

As a result of industry consolidation over the years, employers can find themselves responsible for pension plans of companies long out of existence. A recent federal district court decision imposed a penalty of $4,470 on a...more

You Cannot Take The Embezzler’s 401(k) Plan Balance

Many employers know that with few exceptions a participant’s benefit in a tax qualified retirement plan is protected from the participant’s creditors. One exception is for court orders, known as qualified domestic relations...more

Company Owners Can Be Personally Responsible For Contributions To Multiemployer Plans

I have blogged in the past about the reach of obligations to multiemployer plans and how other businesses owned by a participating employer can be held responsible for withdrawal liability based upon the common ownership. If...more

The Retirement Toolkit

My colleague Jeff Cairns recently blogged about a proposed regulation of the Department of Labor (DOL) that will require employers to include on plan statements estimates of the lifetime annuity amount that a participant’s...more

6/13/2013  /  DOL , Retirement , Retirement Plan

Do Not Delay Getting Your QDRO

Employers know that benefits under a retirement plan can be split between a participant and a former spouse in the event of a divorce under the terms of a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). A domestic relations order...more

Target Date Retirement Funds – Tips For Plan Fiduciaries

Many plan sponsors have selected so-called “target date” funds as the default investment under the plan sponsor’s 401(k) or other qualified plan. A target date fund is one that includes investments in different asset classes...more

Be Careful How You Word Your Claims Procedure

In a recent decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, a retiree who had begun work as a union employee and who during his employment was promoted to a salaried position, sued his...more

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