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401(k) Record Retention Guidelines


In our opinion, all of the following should be retained for the life of the plan and at least 6 years after the termination of the plan.


Retirement Plan Documents: These documents are often restated and revised. It is important to keep all versions of the document and its provisions, including amendments, as well as the underlying plan document if using a preapproved document such as a volume submitter or prototype document. The Department of Labor and the IRS will request signed copies of these documents in the event of an audit.

  • Basic Plan Document

  • Adoption Agreement

  • Amendments

  • Summary Plan Descriptions

  • Board Resolutions or Adopting Resolutions

Annual Filings:

  • Form 5500 and supporting attachments

  • Summary Annual Reports

  • Independent Auditors’ reports if required

  • Distribution documentation

  • Loan documentation if applicable

  • Records for Contribution allocations and required annual testing for coverage and nondiscrimination

  • Board minutes or similar declarations by the Plan Sponsor of the employer contribution amounts

Participant Records:

  • Enrollment Forms

  • Beneficiary Forms

  • Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

  • Distribution Documentation

  • Loan Records (maintained 6 years after the loan is paid off)

Fiduciary Records:

  • Committee meeting materials for review of fees and investments

  • Fee disclosures

  • Engagement Letters

  • Contracts with service providers

Questions about this post? Email laina@tristarpension.com