The paper analyzes the source and magnitude of the problem, along with the legal and financial ramifications for sponsors if not addressed effectively.
Speaking at a conference earlier this year, Susan M. Halliday, senior benefits law specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), mentioned an advisory opinion letter in which an attorney argued that, once a distribution is made from the plan, the money is no longer considered part of the plan assets. The DOL disagreed, implying it considered benefits plan assets until a check is cashed or a wire transfer is successfully made (see “Unanswered Questions About Uncashed Checks”).
“After providing notices to participants that, if they do not make an election for distribution, their accounts will be automatically rolled into an individual retirement account (IRA), how long should plan sponsors or recordkeepers wait for a response,” Janice M. Wegesin, president of JMW Consulting Inc., queried during the same presentation.
Wegesin said this is not a small problem, since estimates show that the highest average uncashed benefit check amount is around $42,000. So, with a lack of guidance, it is a good idea for plan sponsors or recordkeepers to establish written procedures for handling uncashed checks.
“Data from across the country shows that the problem of uncashed checks represents a serious and growing dilemma for retirement plan sponsors,” says Terry Dunne, Millennium Trust senior vice president and managing director of the Rollover Solutions Group. “With administration costs continuing, escheatment not being an option in many cases, and the threat of possible fines and lawsuits increasing the longer plan sponsors fail to follow through on their responsibilities, it becomes clear that automatic rollover IRAs provide an easy solution to the problem,” he contends.
Millennium Trust says it was one of the first to offer an extensive suite of automatic rollover services. Millennium Trust’s automatic rollover service is designed to help plans meet the DOL’s safe harbor requirements for the automatic rollover of plan assets to IRAs.
To receive a copy of the research paper, contact Diane Pressley at 630-368-5614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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