In prior posts, I have discussed the importance of having up-to-date investment policy statements. Not only are they a good proof of diligence on the part of fiduciaries (assuming they are followed) but they also serve as a sort of check list to verify that appropriate investment options are being offered. But are they plan documents and do they actually have to be provided to participants upon request? 

First, let me say that I am a fan of providing participants almost anything they ask for just to support a contention that they have all relevant information. But on top of that, ERISA requires plan sponsors to provide certain plan documents to participants upon request. Under ERISA, a plan administrator must, upon written request of any participant or beneficiary, furnish various documents, including a copy of the latest updated summary plan description and any “contract, or other instrument under which a plan is established or operated” and it seems logical that the investment policy statement is a document under which a plan is operated. But there is a mild conflict between the Circuits about whether a request for plan documents includes the obligation to provide a copy of the investment policy statement.

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