Most importantly, a plan covered by ERISA must be established and maintained pursuant to a written document (i.e. the Plan Document and Summary Plan Description). The benefit plan must also identify the plan’s fiduciary (ies), who are responsible for the operation and administration of the plan. Finally, the plan must identify the procedure for amending the plan (and who may do so), the basis on which payments are to be made to and from the plan, and a claims procedure.
Please note: there are no rules as to how the plan document is written, but it is a legal document and should be treated as such. Many organizations have the plan established by the board of directors, in which case the company is obligated to provide the benefits described. Typically, the plan is executed by an officer of the company, to whom the Board of Directors has designated such authority or by a company’s board of directors. The Plan Document itself is never required to be given to participants. However, an employee (or their representative), may request to see a copy at any time.