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Internal Trustee Fiduciary Liability

What are an employee stock ownership plan’s (ESOP) internal trustee’s fiduciary duties? What are some of the most common liability areas for trustees? And how can trustees prevent common liability pitfalls?

In this presentation, McDermott Partner J. Christian Nemeth offers insight into fiduciary duties, standards and best practices.

Access the slides.




Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investing for Retirement Plans: Where We’ve Been, and Where We Are Now

Over the past year, the regulatory backdrop around environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has shifted. As McDermott Partner Brian J. Tiemann explains in these slides, the US Department of Labor (DOL) under the Trump administration dropped ESG terminology and set a high standard for considering factors other than purely financial projections for investment alternatives. However, the Biden administration’s DOL has said that it will not enforce Trump-era regulations or pursue enforcement actions against plan fiduciaries for failure to comply with those regulations.

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New IRS Guidance for Tax-Qualified Pension Plans with Rehired Retirees Due to COVID-19

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently updated its guidance for retiree distributions under a defined benefit plan. Specifically, the new IRS guidance addresses rehires following a bona fide retirement due to COVID-19.

As a background, a defined benefit plan may make distributions to a retiree only in the case of a “bona fide retirement,” which is a facts and circumstances analysis. In prior rulings, the IRS indicated that retiree distributions without a bona fide retirement can cause a defined benefit plan to lose its tax-qualified status, where both all contributions and earnings become immediately taxable.

According to the IRS, a rehire due to COVID-19-related “unforeseen circumstances” generally would not disqualify an individual’s prior retirement from being considered a bona fide retirement under a defined benefit plan. However, the IRS cautioned that such a rehire cannot include any prearrangement to rehire the individual prior to the individual’s retirement. Such a prearrangement still yields a retirement that is not “bona fide.”

Finally, although the IRS issued this guidance in question and answer format primarily for defined benefit plans, plan sponsors should be able to apply the same rationale to distributions from defined contribution plans. In short, the new IRS guidance provides welcome relief to plan sponsors and employers who are looking to rehire retirees in a tight job market.




Expect More Difficulty Obtaining Fiduciary Insurance

Increasing retirement plan-focused litigation has put insurance carriers and fiduciary service providers in difficult positions. In this article published in PLANSPONSOR, McDermott Partner Erin Turley said such litigation continues to be a “major focus” in the fiduciary insurance marketplace.

“It is a challenging market right now, to the point that we are looking at trying to think about ways that insurance products might be differently structured, to address what we hope will only be a short-term tightening in the market.”

Access the article.




IRS Announces 2022 Employee Benefit Plan Limits

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for various employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans for 2022. Most of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2021 will increase.

View the adjustments here.




IRS Announces 2022 Retirement Plan Limits

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for retirement plans for 2022. Most of the dollar limits currently in effect for 2021 will increase, with only the catch-up contribution limit remaining the same for 2022.

View the adjustments here.




Missing Participants, Cybersecurity Top Challenges for Plan Advisors

Missing participants and cybersecurity are among the top challenges for retirement plan advisors, according to participants at the National Association of Plan Advisors’ 2021 NAPA 401(k) Summit in Las Vegas. During the Summit’s opening day workshop session, McDermott Partner Erin Turley said advisors should make an effort to discuss cybersecurity with clients in advance of a US Department of Labor audit.

“The plan document says X, the recordkeeping agreement says Y, and maybe the (summary plan description) says something different—if it’s even addressed in the SPD,” Turley noted. “So make sure all those documents sync and your process actually matches your documents as equally.”

Read more here.




$4 Billion in Pension Payments Returned

Even though it is the employer’s responsibility to track down former employees and let them know of leftover retirement benefits, it doesn’t always work out that way. In recent years, the US Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has demanded companies improve their methods for finding former workers.

In this article published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, McDermott Partner Jeffrey M. Holdvogt said regulators “put a lot of pressure, in a good sense, on plan administrators to really up their games.” Holdvogt shared his comments in a May webinar hosted by the Pension Action Center at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Access the article.




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