Complying with the vast array of complex laws and regulations governing employee benefit plans can be daunting for any company. The attorneys at McLane specializing in this area have considerable experience helping clients manage the immense burden associated with employee benefit plans.
We have a thorough understanding of the Internal Revenue Code, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1984 (COBRA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as well as other federal and state laws regulating this area. Our attorneys routinely interact with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the two principal federal agencies overseeing employee benefit plans. We assist clients of all types, including closely-held corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, large regional, national and international corporations, as well as tax-exempt, educational and governmental employers. We also represent service providers and investment providers in the benefits industry.
Our knowledge and expertise allows us to provide precise, timely advice to our clients in the following areas.
McLane lawyers analyze an employer's business goals and financial considerations before recommending and implementing a qualified retirement plan, whether it is a 401(k), pension or profit sharing plan, or employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). We review an employer's ability to make yearly or less regular contributions to avoid future problems. We offer a prototype plan approved by the IRS to assist employers who do not need or want an individually designed retirement plan, and we also frequently review prototype documents offered by many banks, insurance companies and investment firms to ensure they meet an employer's objectives and comply with tax laws and ERISA. Once plans are in place, we counsel clients on all aspects of plan operation, including eligibility, testing, and controlled group issues. In the context of mergers and acquisitions, our lawyers guide clients through the process of merging and terminating plans.
Benefit Plans for Governmental and Non-Profit Employers
We have significant experience handling the unique employee benefits issues facing governmental and non-profit employers, including the design, implementation, administration, and termination of: 403(b) tax-deferred annuity plans; defined benefit plans; 401(k) and 457 plans; other retirement and welfare plans; and executive compensation and incentive programs.
Health, Welfare, Insurance and Fringe Benefit Plans
Even prior to the 2010 Health Care Reform legislation, agencies such as the IRS and DOL were increasing the pace of regulatory guidance for health and other welfare plans. We provide clients much needed up-to-date information on the regulations, litigation and legislation affecting their welfare benefit arrangements. We regularly counsel clients on the design, operation and administration of all types of health and welfare plans, including:
- Active employee health care plans
- Retiree health plans
- Disability plans
- Life insurance plans
- Flexible spending plans and other section 125 cafeteria plan arrangements
- Health reimbursement accounts (HRAs)
- Severance programs
Our attorneys draft plan documents and summary plan descriptions, handle benefit claim disputes, and litigate welfare benefit plan disputes. We also frequently advise clients on health care continuation issues arising under COBRA and state laws, as well as coverage and disclosure issues under HIPAA.
Government Audits, Investigations and ERISA Litigation
McLane lawyers assist clients when they are contacted by the IRS or DOL in connection with an audit or investigation relating to their employee benefit plans. We also represent employers and other plan sponsors when seeking favorable rulings from the IRS on uncertain tax issues, favorable opinions and other guidance from the DOL on ERISA issues, and no-action rulings from the Securities and Exchange Commission related to securities law issues raised in certain employee benefit plan arrangements. Our trial lawyers are experienced litigating matters related to benefits entitlement, retirement and welfare document interpretation, tax disputes, ERISA preemption of state laws, and claims of breaches of fiduciary duty.
Fiduciary Duty Issues
Plan sponsors, investment advisers and trustees seek our guidance on their fiduciary duties under ERISA, and any applicable state law related to transactions and arrangements involving the assets of employee benefit plans. Our work in this area includes reviewing and drafting investment management agreements, investment guidelines and potential investments. McLane attorneys advise clients on the fiduciary rules related to plan expenses and fees, payment of commissions, plan reporting and disclosure requirements.
Executive Compensation and Other Services
We design all types of nonqualified retirement plans, including: stock option; deferred compensation; stock appreciation rights; phantom stock; and supplemental executive retirement plans. Our attorneys have considerable experience with deferred compensation governed by Section 409A of the Tax Code. Our attorneys also advise a large number of ESOP companies in virtually every conceivable type of ESOP matter. Our clients include trustees, financial institutions lending to ESOPs, financial advisors, investment managers, selling shareholders, and ESOP participants. We also assist individuals with tax planning needs to maximize their retirement benefits.
For further information on how we can assist you, please contact John E. Rich, Jr., Chair of the Benefits Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org.