Qualified Retirement Plan Provisions Toolkit

Resources to assist an employer with drafting retirement plan provisions for qualified plans in compliance with the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This Toolkit also provides links to standard clauses containing model plan language.

Practical Law Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

As a condition of tax qualification under the Internal Revenue Code ( www.practicallaw.com/2-382-3555) (Code), retirement plans must meet the requirements of Code Section 401(a) (26 U.S.C. § 401(a)).

Treasury regulations under Code Section 401(a) require that a plan be in writing and state the plan's provisions, including those that must be included under the Code. For some of the required provisions, it is generally not sufficient for the plan to simply refer to a requirement of the Code; for other provisions, incorporation by reference is allowed (see Quality Assurance Bulletin FY 2010 No. 2, December 7, 2009).

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ( www.practicallaw.com/0-382-3434) (ERISA) also requires that:

  • A retirement plan have a formal, written plan document that:

    • describes the benefit structure (including information on eligibility, vesting and how benefits are determined and distributed);

    • guides the plan's day-to-day operation; and

    • identifies at least one named fiduciary that controls and manages the plan's operation and administration.

  • Fiduciaries act prudently and according to the provisions of the plan document.

The Qualified Retirement Plan Provisions Toolkit provides many continuously maintained resources that can assist in drafting plan document provisions for individually designed qualified retirement plans.


Practice Notes


Standard Clauses


Standard Documents





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