ERISA is the underpinning of the law and rules that govern qualified plans. This section covers updates and revisions to the law and the growing number of lawsuits under ERISA, outlines best practices and provides insights into how advisors can understand ERISA’s nuances, use them to help clients and win more business.


By Fred Barstein8/12/2013 • 0 Comments

In what could be a watershed decision, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision denying plaintiffs in the Abbott v. Lockheed Martin case class action status. The plaintiffs, who were represented by Jerome Schlichter, were able to win class action status by splitting the classes into those that invested in the same funds. READ MORE

By John Ortman8/9/2013 • 1 Comments

It may not turn out to be the very last word on the Prof. Ian Ayres debacle, but a commentary from the estimable Marcia Wagner notes the important obligations that plan sponsors face to monitor and negotiate appropriate 401(k) fees — obligations that the Yale Law School professor’s unfortunate choice of research methodology and questionable motivation serve to highlight. These include performing a suitability analysis and making a determination that the cost of the plan is reasonable in relation to the value of the services it receives. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein8/1/2013 • 0 Comments

Can a pre- or post-nuptial agreement override a spouse’s retirement plan beneficiary rights under ERISA? According to recent decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the answer is no. READ MORE

7/31/2013 • 0 Comments

On July 24, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed (for a second time) a breach of fiduciary duty case brought by participants in various 401(k) plans against John Hancock and its affiliates. Essentially, the plaintiffs alleged that John Hancock breached its fiduciary duty to them (and other participants in the 401(k) plans). The court held that John Hancock was not a fiduciary with respect to any of the alleged actions. READ MORE

7/30/2013 • 0 Comments

On July 29, 2013, a federal district court in Pennsylvania issued an order affirming that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor requires the recognition of same-gender marriage with regard to benefits distributable from an ERISA-covered employee benefits plan. READ MORE

By Andy Stonehouse7/26/2013 • 0 Comments

Feeling a bit like you've got 404a-5 participant fee disclosure overload? You're not alone. But as the rules are indeed on the books, you're going to have to learn how to deal with them. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein7/26/2013 • 1 Comments

As NAPA’s 1st Annual DC Fly-in Forum approaches on Sept. 17-18, many top DC Congressional leaders and policymakers have agreed to speak, with more expected. READ MORE

By Andy Stonehouse7/24/2013 • 1 Comments

While the retirement world continues to wait for some final clarification on the Department of Labor’s ongoing attempts to establish the definition of fiduciary status under ERISA, a few recent cases demonstrate the tough time DoL will likely have in finalizing its controversial rules. READ MORE

By NAPA Net Staff5/20/2013 • 0 Comments

Advisors have an opportunity to add significant value by helping plan sponsor clients develop a prudent 408(b)(2) disclosure review process. This process is crucial because a failure to properly evaluate the required disclosures from a “covered service provider” (CSP) causes the responsible plan fiduciary (often the plan sponsor or committee) to become a party to a non-exempt prohibited transaction. What should this process entail? Our friends at Drinker Biddle & Reath offer some tips. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein5/16/2013 • 0 Comments

In case you haven’t been paying close attention, the recent 9th Circuit decision in the Tibble v. Edison case has major implications — both good and bad — for plan advisors. This is highlighted eloquently in a blog post by ERISA fiduciary expert Fred Reish. The bad news: More litigation is likely. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein5/1/2013 • 0 Comments

A federal district court in Seattle dismissed a motion to dismiss a case brought by current and former employees of Weyerhaeuser against the company and its retirement plan advisor, Morgan Stanley, for breach of fiduciary duty after the plan lost $2.4 billion in value in 2008. The plaintiffs alleged that the plan did not follow its IPS and included too many risky investments like hedge funds and private equity investments. READ MORE

By Jennifer McKibben4/29/2013 • 0 Comments

There’s a misconception out there that ERISA compliance is really more important for larger businesses. But the fact of the matter is that ERISA has significant implications for organizations of all sizes. So, Tom Clark of FRA/Plan Tools notes, it’s vital for small business owners and plan administrators to understand five reasons why they need to pay attention to it too. READ MORE

By Fred Barstein4/26/2013 • 0 Comments

In Santomenno v. Transamerica Life Ins. Co., a case that may have a significant impact on small market insurance record keepers, a court in the Central District of California rejected a motion to dismiss and raised serious questions about whether the record keeper’s ability to add and delete funds and change the fee schedule were the actions of a fiduciary. READ MORE

By NAPA Net Staff4/2/2013 • 0 Comments

There are a number of important lessons for plan sponsors and their advisors in the seminal 9th Circuit Tibble decision outlined by the law firm of Trucker Huss. READ MORE

By NAPA Net Staff3/22/2013 • 0 Comments

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court opinion that a plan sponsor was imprudent for including retail mutual funds without investigating the possibility of institutional share classes. In Tibble v. Edison, the appeals court rejected the plan sponsor’s claim that it was shielded from liability under ERISA section 404(c) because that provision only protects fiduciaries from losses that are a "direct and necessary result" of a participant's or beneficiary's action. READ MORE

By NAPA Net Staff3/22/2013 • 0 Comments

The DOL’s recent ING settlement raises some thorny questions about gains that providers might receive from reversing transactional errors. These issues are tackled by Steven M. Saxon and George M. Sepsakos of the Groom Law Group. While some reversals may results in losses, if gains are considered plan assets and a provider keeps them without permission of the plan sponsor, does the record keeper become a fiduciary? While disclosure and agreement between the provider and plan sponsor may be the answer, it raises other issues: how to calculate the amount of expected gain under 408(b)(2); what’s reasonable; and how to deal with calculating the gain among many plans in an omnibus accounting environment. READ MORE

By Robert J. Rafter3/12/2013 • 0 Comments

The SEC has published a long-awaited 72-page request for information on the costs and benefits of a uniform fiduciary standard for securities brokers and investment advisers providing investment advice to retail clients. In an unexpected move, the SEC also requested information and costs on “scenarios” in which differing rules governing brokers and investment advisors would be “harmonized” for investment advice to individual clients. READ MORE

By NAPA Net Staff2/25/2013 • 0 Comments

ERISA budgets are all the rage, allowing plan sponsors to use profits from their providers to pay for plan expenses, including their advisors. But attorney Adam Cantor of Wolff Samson cautions that plan sponsors need to be careful creating and overseeing the ERISA budget. READ MORE

By NAPA Net Staff1/24/2013 • 1 Comments

Will the DOL eventually require plan fiduciaries to be trained on their duties under ERISA? Though some settlement agreements include this as a condition, no one would argue that it is currently required. But given that ERISA carries the highest fiduciary standards under law and includes personally liability to the trustees, no one would argue that fiduciary training is a bad idea or waste of time either. READ MORE

By Jim Farley1/17/2013 • 0 Comments

When all is said and done, if participants are not saving enough to retire comfortably and plan sponsors are not receiving the quality of service they need, it matters little that the Department of Labor required volumes of disclosure designed to increase fee and investment transparency. Let’s take a closer look at the DOL rule’s impact on both of these groups. READ MORE

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