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Orphan plan

Last Updated March 22, 2009


A defined contribution plan for which there is no plan sponsor or other plan fiduciary willing to act with respect to the plan.

Any Qualified Plan with respect to which an “Eligible Party” has determined that the Plan Sponsor :

(a) no longer exists,
(b) cannot be located,
(c) is unable to maintain the plan, or
(d) has abandoned the plan pursuant to regulations issued by the Department of Labor.

A plan generally will be considered abandoned if no contributions or distributions occurred with the plan for a period of at least 12 consecutive months and, following reasonable efforts to locate the plan sponsor, it is determined that the sponsor no longer exists, cannot be located, or is unable to maintain the plan.

Referring Cite

29 CFR 2578.1,  Revenue Procedure 2006-27

Additional Helpful Information

  • Only a qualified termination administrator (QTA) may determine whether a plan is abandoned under the regulations. To be a QTA, an entity must hold the plan’s assets and be eligible as a trustee or issuer of an individual retirement plan under the Internal Revenue Code (e.g., bank, trust company, mutual fund family, or insurance company).
  • Orphan plans arise for a number of reasons, including
    • (a) the death of a sole proprietor/plan sponsor,
    • b) bankruptcy, 
    • (c) the removal of plan fiduciaries by the DOL,
    • (d) mergers and acquisitions, and
    • (e) the disappearance or unwillingness of plan fiduciaries to act.  ( DOL)