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Fiduciary basics

Important considerations to keep in mind if you are a fiduciary for a Non-ERISA plan.

  • The same authorities (statutes, regulations, governing document) that impose those duties should be reviewed to determine the extent and scope of any fiduciary duties.  Some individuals mistakenly assume that, if they are a fiduciary, then that status applies to everything they do for the plan.  However this is rarely the case unless their plan function is solely to provide those discretionary services – such as in the case of an investment advisor, a trustee, etc.
    • Public employers in particular, along with their counsel, should carefully review the scope of any fiduciary duties.  Statutes governing some public employer plans include provisions substantially limiting the plan sponsor’s potential liability.  In addition, public employers generally enjoy sovereign immunity.  How all of these considerations may interact is an important topic of conversation with the employer’s counsel.  Click here for an article with additional background on this subject.  
  • It is also important to consider to whom the fiduciary duty is owed, and when.
  • Once these elements are defined – what are the duties, to whom are they owed, and when – policies and procedures can be established to ensure that the obligations are satisfied.

Some non-ERISA plan fiduciaries will consider applying ERISA standards to their specific fiduciary obligations.  If you and your counsel have decided to do this, or are considering it, you can find information for ERISA plan fiduciaries here.

For other compliance resources, click here.

Additionally, the Department of Labor offers extensive educational materials, as well as legislative and regulatory updates, on their website: www.dol.gov/ebsa. It is a useful resource for ongoing education.