Does your company need a written distribution policy? The purpose of this article is to provide a high level overview of the importance of a written distribution policy and topics to consider.
Your Plan Document will discuss the requirements for paying out distributions to plan participants once a distributable event occurs - death, disability, retirement, termination, QDROs or diversification. Some plans also allow for in-service distributions, dividend pass-through, and hardship withdrawals, which you may want to include in your policy. The provisions listed in the document generally fall along the statutory guidelines, which are the maximum payout terms allowed by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Your written distribution policy should address form, method and timing of distributions payouts.
A distribution policy may be part of the plan document, yet most times it is a separate document. A separate document allows for easy modification when the need arises. Qualified plans are subject to IRC Section 411(d)(6) regarding distribution requirement modifications, however ESOPs are an exception to this rule as long as they are updated in a “non-discriminatory” manner. Along with the plan document, the IRS may request to review the policy as part of their determination review process.