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ERISA responsibilities include careful record keeping

Part of the fiduciary duties of the administrators of an employee retirement fund is to maintain documentation related to the plan. Those who file plan reports are responsible for holding on to all records that verify the accuracy and thoroughness of plan transactions. In other words, if a Tennessee participant, the IRS or the U.S. Department of Labor has questions about compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, the plan administrator must be able to demonstrate that compliance with the appropriate paperwork.

The types of records an administrator must keep include plan agreements, contracts, disclosure statements such as those describing fees, and any information sent to participants. It is also wise for administrators to safeguard documentation proving that he or she sent notices to participants. Of course, plan statements, distribution forms, loan documents and other articles related to individual employees is critical.

How long to hold these documents remains in question, so advisors suggest administrators keep them at least six years, although certain papers must be kept until well past the time when the plan pays all its benefits. This may seem like a mountain of paperwork, but most government agencies prefer administrators make electronic copies that are authentic, easy to access and easy to convert to hard copies. It also requires administrators to keep participant information secure.

Failing to retain appropriate documents may be a sign that a plan administrator is not living up to his or her fiduciary duties. After all, a plan participant should be able to rely on the administrator to easily access complete details to clarify any inquiries or concerns about a plan. Tennessee participants with questions about whether a retirement plan administrator is compliant with ERISA rules regarding fiduciary duties can seek answers from a skilled attorney.