Tuesday, June 16, 2020

IRS permits remote notarization of participant elections

The economic and societal lockdowns that have been imposed in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus have presented unique challenges, including some that may not have been contemplated when the lockdowns were instituted.

Congress was quick to pass the CARES Act, which gave retirement plan participants greater access to their plan balances through expanded loan and hardship distribution provisions. However, a stumbling block quickly became apparent when plan provisions required spousal consent for some distributions or loans.

Spousal consent waivers for plans subject to qualified joint and survivor annuity provisions of Section 417 of the Internal Revenue Code generally must be witnessed in the physical presence of a plan representative or a notary public. Similarly, the same spousal consent and witnessing requirements apply to designate a non-spouse beneficiary for a 401(k) or ERISA-covered 403(b) plan. Physical presence can be difficult to achieve in light of stay-at-home orders and temporary business closures.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The DOL expands rules on e-delivery of participant notices

As described in our previous article on participant notices, plan sponsors of qualified retirement plans must routinely provide various notices to participants and beneficiaries regarding plan provisions, investment information, fees and more.  On May 21, the U.S. Department of Labor released new regulations regarding the electronic disclosure of these notices, ushering in an era of convenience for a historically arduous requirement.

Electronic delivery rules have existed for years, but abiding by them has been prohibitive, particularly when delivering to employees not using a computer as an integral part of work duties. The new rules do not replace the existing ones, but instead offer a more feasible alternative to them.

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