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Subpoena that does not name plan


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Extremely small plan sponsor (maybe a dozen participants) - with the owner going through a divorce.

The TPA received a subpoena demanding copies of all information about the owner as an individual, as well as all information regarding the business, on paper no less.

No mention of the retirement plan whatsoever.

Of course all the TPA records on that plan relate to the owner and the business, how could they not?

Overly broad, no?

Thoughts?

I'm a stranger on the internet. Nothing I write is tax or legal advice. 

I'd like a witty saying here, but I don't have any. When in doubt, what does the plan document say?

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Extremely small plan sponsor (maybe a dozen participants) - with the owner going through a divorce.

The TPA received a subpoena demanding copies of all information about the owner as an individual, as well as all information regarding the business, on paper no less.

No mention of the retirement plan whatsoever.

Of course all the TPA records on that plan relate to the owner and the business, how could they not?

Overly broad, no?

Thoughts?

Not of much value, perhaps, but I am thinking that for some of the people who post here, "maybe a dozen participants" is a large plan, and for others, several thousand participants is an "extremely small plan sponsor".

I go with "has your attorney reviewed it?" If you pushed back (i.e., "I need to know why you feel entitled to matters unrelated to the divorce action"), where would it be likely to get you?

Assuming that the subpoena comes from the owner's soon to be ex-spouse, does the owner have an attorney with enough experience to push back for you?

Always check with your actuary first!

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1. The owner should be notified of the subpoena and the intent to furnish information so the owner has the opportunity to quash the subpoena -- which is most likely to fail if attempted.

2. Subpoenas are served on persons who are holding information. If the subpoena was delivered to the TPA, the presumption is that the intent is to obtain information held by the TPA and that would include plan information. It makes no sense to play games about scope. The source of the issuance of the subpoena should be contacted to determine and clarify what is actually desired. Usually a subpoena asks for far more than the target information for fear of missing the target and discussion and cooperation will narrow the request as well as allow more time and avoidance of appearance. A typical subpoena commands the record keeper to appear at a time and place and bring the documents. A cooperative approach usually results in sending copies of selected information in a reasonable time rather than showing up with a lot of unnecessary and unwanted documents. If you try to be cute and withhold information in possession on some technical or interpretive basis, you will at a minimum just get another subpoena. If the plan information is what is desired, ultimately it will be turned over. If there really is information that has a legitimate basis for protection, the owner should be the one who knows. See #1.

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