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Who is an ERISA fiduciary, and why does it matter?

| Jan 8, 2021 | ERISA

Many New Jersey workers have an employer-established plan that provides them with money after their retirement or when they become unable to work. Examples include Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a) pension or profit-sharing plans, Section 403(b) plans, and Section 457(b) plans. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, these plans must name a fiduciary. The law prohibits financial advisors from receiving additional compensation from plans if they serve as the plan’s ERISA fiduciary.

Identified ERISA Fiduciaries

Read the fine print in your plan, and you will discover that it identifies the person by position and company. You can contact the company and ask who currently holds that position if you want to know their name. Issuing plans with only the company and position identified means that the person can change without the company having to reissue paperwork.

Other ERISA Fiduciaries

In addition to the person identified in your plan, other people may act as fiduciaries to your retirement or disability plan. Anyone with decision-making control over the plan is a fiduciary. It also includes anyone who can dispose of assets held by the plan. Additionally, anyone that gives investment advice regarding plan assets. These people may include:

  • Plan administrators
  • Trustees
  • Directors
  • Investment managers

Fiduciary Breaches

An ERISA plan fiduciary always must put your interests above their own and be involved in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Then, you can file a case against the fiduciary for breaching their duties. You may need to be able to prove that the fiduciary was one or more of the following:

  • Dishonest
  • Imprudent
  • Uninvolved

You may also have to prove that the fiduciary broke the law somehow or failed to carry out their duties in a responsible manner. If you feel that a fiduciary has harmed you and your financial interests, then you may want to meet with an attorney and discuss your concerns.