​​Understanding Your Role

Your Fiduciary Responsibility

Two-Hat Rule and Co-Fiduciary Liability 

Getting Up to Speed: A Checklist for New Trustees

  • ​Start a paper or online file of the key documents related to your plan, including those listed below 
  • Obtain and maintain a list of all the management and labor trustees with their contact information 
  • Obtain a list of all the plan advisors with their contact information 
  • Review your trust agreement 
  • Familiarize yourself with benefits-related sections of the collective bargaining agreement 
  • Review the participation agreement 
  • Read over the plan document and/or Summary Plan Description (SPD), if separate from the trust document 
  • Review the minutes of trust meetings for at least the past two years 
  • Get copies of the plan's IRS determination letter and any opinion letters 
  • Get to know your plan's policies, such as:
    • Benefits policy 
    • Collection policy
    • Investment policy 
    • Trustee education policy 
    • Trustee reimbursement policy 
    • Conflict-of-interest policy 
    • Whistleblower policy
    • Records retention and destruction policy
    • Social media policy
    • Cyber policy
  • Review the fund's fiduciary liability insurance policy and consider purchasing waiver of recourse coverage (an insurance rider that states the insurance company will not make an effort to recover from a trustee any payments made by the insurance company that are the trustee's liability), if not included.
  • Fidelity bonds and fidcuiary liability

​​​Trustee Meeting Practices

  • Review the agenda before the meeting
  • Read the minutes from the previous meeting
  • Understand trustee meeting policies:
  • ​Understand the role of the plan advisors
    • ​Actuary
    • Accountant/auditor
    • Administrator
    • Attorney
    • Custodial bank
    • Insurance carrier
    • Insurance consultant or broker
    • Investment consultant
    • Investment manager
  • Roles of professionals
  • Service provider contracts
  • Ask questions

Trustee Expenses

A trustee may not receive any compensation from a trust for performing trustee duties if the trustee is receiving a wage or salary from a union or an employer. The trustee may, however, receive reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for performance of trustee duties. These expenses, reported in an expense voucher​, may include lost wages and benefits, mileage, meals and travel expenses to attend trustee meetings.

If the trust document provides for it, a trustee may also be reimbursed for reasonable educational expenses provided the education relates to the trustee's fiduciary duty. These expenses may include travel, meals, lodging and registration expenditures.

Tips for Trustees on Expense Reimbursement

  • R​ead and follow your trust fund's expense reimbursement policy
  • Spend conservatively; the money belongs to the plan beneficiaries
  • Get receipts of all your expenses, if possible
  • Document your expenses as you go
  • Report your actual expenses on a standardized form (sample trustee expense voucher​)
  • Do not request reimbursement for entertainment expenses, items of a personal nature or expenses for spouses, families or guests