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Federal case law has provided plan sponsors of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) covered plans with the ability to insert plan provisions that are more favorable to the plan sponsor rather than the plan participant or beneficiary (so-called “protective plan provisions”).

This Article first examines what is the “plan document” for purposes of ERISA and what protective plan provisions should be considered for insertion into the plan document and its related “instruments.”