29 CFR 2578.1 - Termination of abandoned individual account plans.

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§ 2578.1 Termination of abandoned individual account plans.
(a) General. The purpose of this part is to establish standards for the termination and winding up of an individual account plan (as defined in section 3(34) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA or the Act)) with respect to which a qualified termination administrator (as defined in paragraph (g) of this section) has determined there is no responsible plan sponsor or plan administrator within the meaning of section 3(16)(B) and (A) of the Act, respectively, to perform such acts.
(b) Finding of abandonment.
(1) A qualified termination administrator may find an individual account plan to be abandoned when:
(i) Either: (A) No contributions to, or distributions from, the plan have been made for a period of at least 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the date on which the determination is being made; or
(B) Other facts and circumstances (such as a filing by or against the plan sponsor for liquidation under title 11 of the United States Code, or communications from participants and beneficiaries regarding distributions) known to the qualified termination administrator suggest that the plan is or may become abandoned by the plan sponsor; and
(ii) Following reasonable efforts to locate or communicate with the plan sponsor, the qualified termination administrator determines that the plan sponsor:
(A) No longer exists;
(B) Cannot be located; or
(C) Is unable to maintain the plan.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a qualified termination administrator may not find a plan to be abandoned if, at any time before the plan is deemed terminated pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section, the qualified termination administrator receives an objection from the plan sponsor regarding the finding of abandonment and proposed termination.
(3) A qualified termination administrator shall, for purposes of paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section, be deemed to have made a reasonable effort to locate or communicate with the plan sponsor if the qualified termination administrator sends to the last known address of the plan sponsor, and, in the case of a plan sponsor that is a corporation, to the address of the person designated as the corporation's agent for service of legal process, by a method of delivery requiring acknowledgement of receipt, the notice described in paragraph (b)(5) of this section.
(4) If receipt of the notice described in paragraph (b)(5) of this section is not acknowledged pursuant to paragraph (b)(3) of this section, the qualified termination administrator shall be deemed to have made a reasonable effort to locate or communicate with the plan sponsor if the qualified termination administrator contacts known service providers (other than itself) of the plan and requests the current address of the plan sponsor from such service providers and, if such information is provided, the qualified termination administrator sends to each such address, by a method of delivery requiring acknowledgement of receipt, the notice described in paragraph (b)(5) of this section.
(5) The notice referred to in paragraph (b)(3) of this section shall contain the following information:
(i) The name and address of the qualified termination administrator;
(ii) The name of the plan;
(iii) The account number or other identifying information relating to the plan;
(iv) A statement that the plan may be terminated and benefits distributed pursuant to 29 CFR 2578.1 if the plan sponsor fails to contact the qualified termination administrator within 30 days;
(v) The name, address, and telephone number of the person, office, or department that the plan sponsor must contact regarding the plan;
(vi) A statement that if the plan is terminated pursuant to 29 CFR 2578.1, notice of such termination will be furnished to the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration;
(vii) The following statement: “The U.S. Department of Labor requires that you be informed that, as a fiduciary or plan administrator or both, you may be personally liable for costs, civil penalties, excise taxes, etc. as a result of your acts or omissions with respect to this plan. The termination of this plan will not relieve you of your liability for any such costs, penalties, taxes, etc.”; and
(viii) A statement that the plan sponsor may contact the U.S Department of Labor for more information about the federal law governing the termination and winding-up process for abandoned plans and the telephone number of the appropriate Employee Benefit Security Administration contact person.
(c) Deemed termination.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, if a qualified termination administrator finds, pursuant to paragraph (b)(1) of this section, that an individual account plan has been abandoned, the plan shall be deemed to be terminated on the ninetieth (90th) day following the date of the letter from EBSA's Office of Enforcement acknowledging receipt of the notice of plan abandonment, described in paragraph (c)(3) of this section.
(2) If, prior to the end of the 90-day period described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Department notifies the qualified termination administrator that it—
(i) Objects to the termination of the plan, the plan shall not be deemed terminated under paragraph (c)(1) of this section until the qualified termination administrator is notified that the Department has withdrawn its objection; or
(ii) Waives the 90-day period described in paragraph (c)(1), the plan shall be deemed terminated upon the qualified termination administrator's receipt of such notification.
(3) Following a qualified termination administrator's finding, pursuant to paragraph (b)(1) of this section, that an individual account plan has been abandoned, the qualified termination administrator shall furnish to the U.S. Department of Labor a notice of plan abandonment that is signed and dated by the qualified termination administrator and that includes the following information:
(i) Qualified termination administrator information.
(A) The name, EIN, address, and telephone number of the person electing to be the qualified termination administrator, including the address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the person signing the notice (or other contact person, if different from the person signing the notice);
(B) A statement that the person (identified in paragraph (c)(3)(i)(A) of this section) is a qualified termination administrator within the meaning of paragraph (g) of this section and elects to terminate and wind up the plan (identified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(A) of this section) in accordance with the provisions of this section; and
(C) An identification whether the person electing to be the qualified termination administrator or its affiliate is, or within the past 24 months has been, the subject of an investigation, examination, or enforcement action by the Department, Internal Revenue Service, or Securities and Exchange Commission concerning such entity's conduct as a fiduciary or party in interest with respect to any plan covered by the Act.
(ii) Plan information.
(A) The name, address, telephone number, account number, EIN, and plan number of the plan with respect to which the person is electing to serve as the qualified termination administrator;
(B) The name and last known address and telephone number of the plan sponsor; and
(C) The estimated number of participants in the plan;
(iii) Findings. A statement that the person electing to be the qualified termination administrator finds that the plan (identified in paragraph (c)(3)(ii)(A) of this section) is abandoned pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. This statement shall include an explanation of the basis for such a finding, specifically referring to the provisions in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a description of the specific steps (set forth in paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4) of this section) taken to locate or communicate with the known plan sponsor, and a statement that no objection has been received from the plan sponsor;
(iv) Plan asset information.
(A) The estimated value of the plan's assets held by the person electing to be the qualified termination administrator;
(B) The length of time plan assets have been held by the person electing to be the qualified termination administrator, if such period of time is less than 12 months;
(C) An identification of any assets with respect to which there is no readily ascertainable fair market value, as well as information, if any, concerning the value of such assets; and
(D) An identification of known delinquent contributions pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(iii) of this section;
(v) Service provider information.
(A) The name, address, and telephone number of known service providers (e.g., record keeper, accountant, lawyer, other asset custodian(s)) to the plan; and
(B) An identification of any services considered necessary to wind up the plan in accordance with this section, the name of the service provider(s) that is expected to provide such services, and an itemized estimate of expenses attendant thereto expected to be paid out of plan assets by the qualified termination administrator; and
(vi) Perjury statement. A statement that the information being provided in the notice is true and complete based on the knowledge of the person electing to be the qualified termination administrator, and that the information is being provided by the qualified termination administrator under penalty of perjury.
(d) Winding up the affairs of the plan.
(1) In any case where an individual account plan is deemed to be terminated pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section, the qualified termination administrator shall take steps as may be necessary or appropriate to wind up the affairs of the plan and distribute benefits to the plan's participants and beneficiaries.
(2) For purposes of paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the qualified termination administrator shall:
(i) Update plan records.
(A) Undertake reasonable and diligent efforts to locate and update plan records necessary to determine the benefits payable under the terms of the plan to each participant and beneficiary.
(B) For purposes of paragraph (d)(2)(i)(A) of this section, a qualified termination administrator shall not have failed to make reasonable and diligent efforts to update plan records merely because the administrator determines in good faith that updating the records is either impossible or involves significant cost to the plan in relation to the total assets of the plan.
(ii) Calculate benefits. Use reasonable care in calculating the benefits payable to each participant or beneficiary based on plan records described in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section. A qualified termination administrator shall not have failed to use reasonable care in calculating benefits payable solely because the qualified termination administrator—
(A) Treats as forfeited an account balance that, taking into account estimated forfeitures and other assets allocable to the account, is less than the estimated share of plan expenses allocable to that account, and reallocates that account balance to defray plan expenses or to other plan accounts in accordance with (d)(2)(ii)(B) of this section;
(B) Allocates expenses and unallocated assets in accordance with the plan documents, or, if the plan document is not available, is ambiguous, or if compliance with the plan is unfeasible,
(1) Allocates unallocated assets (including forfeitures and assets in a suspense account) to participant accounts on a per capita basis (allocated equally to all accounts); and
(2) Allocates expenses on a pro rata basis (proportionately in the ratio that each individual account balance bears to the total of all individual account balances) or on a per capita basis (allocated equally to all accounts).
(iii) Report delinquent contributions.
(A) Notify the Department of any known contributions (either employer or employee) owed to the plan in conjunction with the filing of either the notification required in paragraph (c)(3) or (d)(2)(ix) of this section.
(B) Nothing in paragraph (d)(2)(iii)(A) of this section or any other provision of the Act shall be construed to impose an obligation on the qualified termination administrator to collect delinquent contributions on behalf of the plan, provided that the qualified termination administrator satisfies the requirements of paragraph (d)(2)(iii)(A) of this section.
(iv) Engage service providers. Engage, on behalf of the plan, such service providers as are necessary for the qualified termination administrator to wind up the affairs of the plan and distribute benefits to the plan's participants and beneficiaries in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) of this section.
(v) Pay reasonable expenses.
(A) Pay, from plan assets, the reasonable expenses of carrying out the qualified termination administrator's authority and responsibility under this section.
(B) Expenses of plan administration shall be considered reasonable solely for purposes of paragraph (d)(2)(v)(A) of this section if:
(1) Such expenses are for services necessary to wind up the affairs of the plan and distribute benefits to the plan's participants and beneficiaries,
(2) Such expenses: (i) Are consistent with industry rates for such or similar services, based on the experience of the qualified termination administrator; and
(ii) Are not in excess of rates ordinarily charged by the qualified termination administrator (or affiliate) for same or similar services provided to customers that are not plans terminated pursuant to this section, if the qualified termination administrator (or affiliate) provides same or similar services to such other customers, and
(3) The payment of such expenses would not constitute a prohibited transaction under the Act or is exempted from such prohibited transaction provisions pursuant to section 408(a) of the Act.
(vi) Notify participants.
(A) Furnish to each participant or beneficiary of the plan a notice written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant and containing the following:
(1) The name of the plan;
(2) A statement that the plan has been determined to be abandoned by the plan sponsor and, therefore, has been terminated pursuant to regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor;
(3)(i) A statement of the account balance and the date on which it was calculated by the qualified termination administrator, and
(ii) The following statement: “The actual amount of your distribution may be more or less than the amount stated in this letter depending on investment gains or losses and the administrative cost of terminating your plan and distributing your benefits.”;
(4) A description of the distribution options available under the plan and a request that the participant or beneficiary elect a form of distribution and inform the qualified termination administrator (or designee) of that election;
(5) A statement explaining that, if a participant or beneficiary fails to make an election within 30 days from receipt of the notice, the qualified termination administrator (or designee) will distribute the account balance of the participant or beneficiary directly:
(i) To an individual retirement plan (i.e., individual retirement account or annuity),
(ii) To an inherited individual retirement plan described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(ii) of this chapter (in the case of a distribution on behalf of a distributee other than a participant or spouse),
(iii) In any case where the amount to be distributed meets the conditions in § 2550.404a-3 (d)(1)(iii), to an interest-bearing federally insured bank account, the unclaimed property fund of the State of the last known address of the participant or beneficiary, or an individual retirement plan (described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(i) or (d)(1)(ii) of this chapter) or
(iv) To an annuity provider in any case where the qualified termination administrator determines that the survivor annuity requirements in sections 401(a)(11) and 417 of the Internal Revenue Code (or section 205 of ERISA) prevent a distribution under paragraph (d)(2)(vii)(B)(1) of this section;
(6) In the case of a distribution to an individual retirement plan (described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(i) or (d)(1)(ii) of this chapter) a statement explaining that the account balance will be invested in an investment product designed to preserve principal and provide a reasonable rate of return and liquidity;
(7) A statement of the fees, if any, that will be paid from the participant or beneficiary's individual retirement plan (described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(i) or (d)(1)(ii) of this chapter) or other account (described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(iii)(A) of this chapter), if such information is known at the time of the furnishing of this notice;
(8) The name, address and phone number of the provider of the individual retirement plan (described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(i) or (d)(1)(ii) of this chapter), qualified survivor annuity, or other account (described in § 2550.404a-3(d)(1)(iii)(A) of this chapter), if such information is known at the time of the furnishing of this notice; and
(9) The name, address, and telephone number of the qualified termination administrator and, if different, the name, address and phone number of a contact person (or entity) for additional information concerning the termination and distribution of benefits under this section.
(B) (1) For purposes of paragraph (d)(2)(vi)(A) of this section, a notice shall be furnished to each participant or beneficiary in accordance with the requirements of § 2520.104b-1(b)(1) of this chapter to the last known address of the participant or beneficiary; and
(2) In the case of a notice that is returned to the plan as undeliverable, the qualified termination administrator shall, consistent with the duties of a fiduciary under section 404(a)(1) of ERISA, take steps to locate and provide notice to the participant or beneficiary prior to making a distribution pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(vii) of this section. If, after such steps, the qualified termination administrator is unsuccessful in locating and furnishing notice to a participant or beneficiary, the participant or beneficiary shall be deemed to have been furnished the notice and to have failed to make an election within the 30-day period described in paragraph (d)(2)(vii) of this section.
(vii) Distribute benefits.
(A) Distribute benefits in accordance with the form of distribution elected by each participant or beneficiary with spousal consent, if required.
(B) If the participant or beneficiary fails to make an election within 30 days from the date the notice described in paragraph (d)(2)(vi) of this section is furnished, distribute benefits—
(1) In accordance with § 2550.404a-3 of this chapter; or
(2) If a qualified termination administrator determines that the survivor annuity requirements in sections 401(a)(11) and 417 of the Internal Revenue Code (or section 205 of ERISA) prevent a distribution under paragraph (d)(2)(vii)(B)(1) of this section, in any manner reasonably determined to achieve compliance with those requirements.
(C) For purposes of distributions pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(vii)(B) of this section, the qualified termination administrator may designate itself (or an affiliate) as the transferee of such proceeds, and invest such proceeds in a product in which it (or an affiliate) has an interest, only if such designation and investment is exempted from the prohibited transaction provisions under the Act pursuant to section 408(a) of the Act.
(viii) Special Terminal Report for Abandoned Plans. File the Special Terminal Report for Abandoned Plans in accordance with § 2520.103-13 of this chapter.
(ix) Final Notice. No later than two months after the end of the month in which the qualified termination administrator satisfies the requirements in paragraph (d)(2)(i) through (d)(2)(vii) of this section, furnish to the Office of Enforcement, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210, a notice, signed and dated by the qualified termination administrator, containing the following information:
(A) The name, EIN, address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the qualified termination administrator, including the address and telephone number of the person signing the notice (or other contact person, if different from the person signing the notice);
(B) The name, account number, EIN, and plan number of the plan with respect to which the person served as the qualified termination administrator;
(C) A statement that the plan has been terminated and all the plan's assets have been distributed to the plan's participants and beneficiaries on the basis of the best available information;
(D) A statement that plan expenses were paid out of plan assets by the qualified termination administrator in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (d)(2)(v) of this section;
(E) If fees and expenses paid to the qualified termination administrator (or its affiliate) exceed by 20 percent or more the estimate required by paragraph (c)(3)(v)(B) of this section, a statement that actual fees and expenses exceeded estimated fees and expenses and the reasons for such additional costs;
(F) An identification of known delinquent contributions pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(iii) of this section (if not already reported under paragraph (c)(3)(iv)(D)); and
(G) A statement that the information being provided in the notice is true and complete based on the knowledge of the qualified termination administrator, and that the information is being provided by the qualified termination administrator under penalty of perjury.
(3) The terms of the plan shall, for purposes of title I of ERISA, be deemed amended to the extent necessary to allow the qualified termination administrator to wind up the plan in accordance with this section.
(e) Limited liability.
(1)
(i) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (e)(1)(ii) and (iii) of this section, to the extent that the activities enumerated in paragraph (d)(2) of this section involve the exercise of discretionary authority or control that would make the qualified termination administrator a fiduciary within the meaning of section 3(21) of the Act, the qualified termination administrator shall be deemed to satisfy its responsibilities under section 404(a) of the Act with respect to such activities, provided that the qualified termination administrator complies with the requirements of paragraph (d)(2) of this section.
(ii) A qualified termination administrator shall be responsible for the selection and monitoring of any service provider (other than monitoring a provider selected pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(vii)(B) of this section) determined by the qualified termination administrator to be necessary to the winding up of the affairs of the plan, as well as ensuring the reasonableness of the compensation paid for such services. If a qualified termination administrator selects and monitors a service provider in accordance with the requirements of section 404(a)(1) of the Act, the qualified termination administrator shall not be liable for the acts or omissions of the service provider with respect to which the qualified termination administrator does not have knowledge.
(iii) For purposes of a distribution pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(vii)(B)(2) of this section, a qualified termination administrator shall be responsible for the selection of an annuity provider in accordance with section 404 of the Act.
(2) Nothing herein shall be construed to impose an obligation on the qualified termination administrator to conduct an inquiry or review to determine whether or what breaches of fiduciary responsibility may have occurred with respect to a plan prior to becoming the qualified termination administrator for such plan.
(3) If assets of an abandoned plan are held by a person other than the qualified termination administrator, such person shall not be treated as in violation of section 404 (a) the Act solely on the basis that the person cooperated with and followed the directions of the qualified termination administrator in carrying out its responsibilities under this section with respect to such plan, provided that, in advance of any transfer or disposition of any assets at the direction of the qualified termination administrator, such person confirms with the Department of Labor that the person representing to be the qualified termination administrator with respect to the plan is the qualified termination administrator recognized by the Department of Labor.
(f) Continued liability of plan sponsor. Nothing in this section shall serve to relieve or limit the liability of any person other than the qualified termination administrator due to a violation of ERISA.
(g) Qualified termination administrator. A termination administrator is qualified under this section only if:
(1) It is eligible to serve as a trustee or issuer of an individual retirement plan, within the meaning of section 7701(a)(37) of the Internal Revenue Code, and
(2) It holds assets of the plan that is considered abandoned pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.
(h) Affiliate.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (h)(2) of this section, the term affiliate means any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by, or under common control with, the person; or any officer, director, partner or employee of the person.
(2) For purposes of paragraph (c)(3)(i)(C) of this section, the term affiliate means a 50 percent or more owner of a qualified termination administrator, or any person described in paragraph (h)(1) of this section that provides services to the plan.
(3) For purposes of paragraph (h)(1) of this section, the term control means the power to exercise a controlling influence over the management or policies of a person other than an individual.
(i) Model notices. Appendices to this section contain model notices that are intended to assist qualified termination administrators in discharging the notification requirements under this section. Their use is not mandatory. However, the use of appropriately completed model notices will be deemed to satisfy the requirements of paragraphs (b)(5), (c)(3), (d)(2)(vi), and (d)(2)(ix) of this section.
[71 FR 20837, Apr. 21, 2006; 71 FR 29073, May 19, 2006; 72 FR 7522, Feb. 15, 2007; 73 FR 58465, Oct. 7, 2008]

Title 29 published on 2014-07-01

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