As we head into open enrollment season, retirement plan sponsors should be sure to keep their finger on proper beneficiary designations – especially those who sponsor plans using automatic enrollment. Reminding participants to take this specific step in the enrollment process will avoid difficult situations in an unanticipated or even an anticipated death. Without a proper beneficiary designation on file, or in cases where beneficiary designation disputes occur, including but not limited to participants failing to change beneficiary designations to reflect life events or lost or stale beneficiary designations on account of service provider changes or other reasons, plan fiduciaries are required to spend time, as well as financial and other resources, to identify the correct beneficiary in order to fulfill their fiduciary duties. In order to act in the best interest of plan participants, plan fiduciaries may be left to commence an interpleader action, defend a lawsuit or expend time and financial resources to locate the correct beneficiary under the terms of the plan so that the plan can avoid paying benefits to the wrong person or paying a benefit twice. Because such payment could expose the plan and its fiduciaries to liability – ensure that participants are aware of the status of their beneficiary designation and remind them to complete one if necessary. Open enrollment is an opportune time to update records and avoid future disputes regarding payments of benefits.