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Guest pensiondoc

obtaining data from previous provider

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Guest pensiondoc

I was asked by the client's accountant to take over the administration of the client's retirement plan back in June.

The client doesn't know where any of his pension material is, the accountant does not have copies, and I know the previous "administrator" by reputation and with dealing with him over 20 years ago. The fellow is a pension attorney doing administration.

I wrote my standard takeover letter to the administrator back in June asking for the information, and have called the guy 3X since then.

I got the client to write him a letter telling him his services were no longer needed and that he should forward all information to me. Of course, he hasn't sent me anything.

This is a calendar year sole prop and it is geting nearer to the end of year.

Normally when I am in this position, I look to see which professional orgs the guy belongs to, typically ASPA, etc. and he gets a call from ASPA. This guys doesn't belong to ASPA and I need the information.

Who could I complain to about this guy in order to get the needed info to takeover the case??

Steve

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Since you said he was a pension attorney, I suspect he might belong to the American Bar Association, so I would start there. If that pathway is blocked, I would report this situation to the Department of Labor. Good luck and I hope this helps!

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Let's assume you don't get any answers from the attorney / "administrator" either before yearend, or at all.

What can you do NOW to help your client?

I'll assume it is a DC plan. (There was no mention of an actuary being involved in your message.)

Since it is a sole prop, we know what the 1/1/98 account balance is; it is equal to his 1/1/98 assets, increased by any 1997 contribution made in 1998. (And the client should have his brokerage statements or other asset records.)

Nobody has a plan document. If somebody (the client, the accountant) knows whether the plan is a money purchase plan or profit sharing plan, why not amend and restate the plan before December 31, 1998, retroactive to January 1, 1998 for non-statutory purposes, and retroactive to the applicable GATT, USERRA, etc. dates, otherwise.

There would be a potential problem when applying for determination letter, since the IRS wants to see the current determination letter. You might be able to get around this by using a prototype (I know, I'm not happy with this because the client is still at risk for prior years if they are audited, but I'm not going to solve every problem in this message.)

Finally, if nobody is sure whether this is a money purchase or profit sharing plan, you can tell by looking at the contribution history (by going through the client's retirement plan assets back several years) and his earnings history (from his tax returns). If the contribution divided by the earnings varies each year (and is hopefully less than 15%), it is a profit sharing plan. If it is a fixed percent above 15%, it is a money purchase plan. If it is a fixed percent 15% or less, then we still don't know (and again, I never promised perfect solutions.)

The risk remains as to what happens if the client is audited and the attorney/"administrator" still hasn't provided documentation. Then, it's a good time to get an attorney.

Good luck.

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Guest pensiondoc

Thanks very much for the useful input.

Steve

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Did this client file IRS Form 5500-EZ each year? If so maybe he can request copies from IRS and they would tell you some info about the Plan - type of Plan - whether MP or PS, also serial number and date of Determination Letter from the document assuming it was a standardized prototype...Good Luck!

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Guest pensiondoc

Apparently there is a common law employee in the plan, which obviously makes things harder.

In lieu of anything else, I'm going to have the client write a complaint letter to the Grievance Commitee of the NY State Bar Association and I will try my own luck with the Department of Labor.

Maybe a combination of these two sources will pressure the guy to fork over the data. In the meantime, I'm going to try to collect a retainer from the client for all this trouble.

Thank you for all the input.

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Guest Mike Kimball

Are you sure you really want a client who can't keep track of things like adoption agreements and 5500 forms? Maybe you should walk away since he probably can't keep track of your invoices either!

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Guest David Lipkin

Is it too naive to expect a push from the client himself? Or has this already happened?

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Guest pensiondoc

Client has already written the guy 2 letters.

Tomorrow's the deadline for the guy to respond; I'm writing a letter for the client to the Grievance Committe of the NY State Bar, and I will try my luck with a contact at the DOL.

Thank you one and all for your input. I don't think we need to continue this discussion. Usually if I'm having this much difficulty getting prior info, I would not pursue but the accountant refers a lot, and that's a major consideration in this case.

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