(b)lines Ask the Experts – When the Individual Who Signed Form 5500 Retired

“We are starting preparations for our retirement plan’s Form 5500 annual return filing; however, the individual who signs our returns as employer and plan administrator retired, and the new person taking over the position inquired as to exactly who should be signing as the employer and plan administrator. Do the Experts have any guidance on the subject?”

David Levine and David Powell, with Groom Law Group, and Michael A. Webb, vice president, Retirement Plan Services, Cammack Retirement Group, answer: 

Thanks for asking the first question of this year’s 5500 filing season! Yes, the Experts can provide you with some information in this area. Since the individual who retired, was signing as both the employer and plan administrator, unless he/she was doing so incorrectly, the plan administrator for your plan is likely identified in the document as the employer. However, this is not always the case, so it is important to check the plan document to confirm who is named as the plan administrator; it can be the employer, a specific internal party, or a third party. For more details, see our prior Ask the Experts column on the subject.

As for who signs as the employer, it must be an authorized representative of the employer. This is generally an individual who is authorized by the Board or appropriate committee to sign all documents related to the plan, such as the plan document, plan service agreement, investment contract, etc.  Since your authorized signor recently retired, you will likely need to go through your plan’s governance procedures to authorize the new individual to sign on behalf of the plan, if you have not already done so. Also, the new individual will need to obtain electronic filing credentials for the Department of Labor’s EFAST2 electronic filing system.

Finally, it should be noted that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) only requires the plan administrator to sign the Form 5500, though in practice both the employer and plan administrator signature blocks are often completed. It is also important to note that, although Form 5500s are now filed electronically, ERISA requires that a hardcopy of the annual report with all required signatures be maintained as part of the plan’s records.


NOTE: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.  

Do YOU have a question for the Experts? If so, we would love to hear from you! Simply forward your question to Rebecca.Moore@strategic-i.com with Subject: Ask the Experts, and the Experts will do their best to answer your question in a future Ask the Experts column.