Retirement plan fiduciaries should consider the following best practices to improve their plan’s governance in 2014: (i) if fiduciary duties have been delegated, make certain that the delegations are in writing and are being followed correctly; (ii) if fiduciary duties have been delegated, then the fiduciary who delegated the duty is charged with monitoring the performance of the delegate and ideally will have procedures in place to monitor the delegate; (iii) any committees responsible for plan investments should meet regularly, review the performance of the plan investments and the service providers hired to advise on the plan’s investments, and document any actions of the committee and the rationale for such actions; (iv) for retirement plans with participant deferrals, confirm that the deferrals are being deposited into the plan’s investment accounts on a timely basis; (v) ensure that any retirement plan subject to ERISA is adequately bonded; and (vi) review the terms of the plan document and any plan policies or procedures to ensure that such documents have been amended as necessary and are being followed. Given the number of changes to health plans over the past few years due to health care reform and changes to HIPAA, employers that sponsor group health plans should consider the following issues when administering their plans in 2014: (i) review the terms of the group health plan to ensure that the plan complies with the various health care reform mandates, which take effect with the plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2014; (ii) ensure that the various compliance notices applicable to group health plans have been updated and/or distributed (e.g., the HIPAA Privacy notice, COBRA Initial and Election notices, Summary of Benefits and Coverage, Marketplace notice, Grandfathered Plan notice, etc.); (iii) review any HIPAA Business Associate Agreements and HIPAA Privacy and Security Policies to ensure that they are current and consider HIPAA training; and (iv) amend any health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to comply with recent IRS guidance requiring integration with group health plans of many HRAs. In addition to the issues described above, all benefit plan sponsors should institute a specific limitations period for lawsuits to be filed against the plan sponsor and consider the impact of the changes in the law which allow equal tax treatment for same-sex married couples.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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