Overview

Whether you’re starting a new business, purchasing an existing business or responsible for employee benefits matters for a Fortune 500 company, you seek to recruit and retain the very best talent possible and stay competitive. The nationally ranked employee benefits and executive compensation attorneys at Stinson can help you achieve legal compliance that is compatible with your business goals and your industry challenges.

Our attorneys regularly work with businesses, governments, tax-exempt organizations, universities and tribal entities of all sizes to design, implement and maintain employee benefit programs. As part of an employer’s compensation strategy, these programs can help align employee interests with the goals of the owners, maximize tax deferrals and tax savings associated with desired benefits, and provide a competitive edge in attracting and maintaining excellent employees.

Capabilities

We offer our clients a full array of legal services relating to employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including:

Retirement Plans

We assist clients with designing, establishing and administering all types of qualified retirement plans including ESOPs, profit-sharing, 401(k), 403(b), defined benefit and cash balance plans. We advise on regulatory compliance including compliance with ERISA's reporting and disclosure rules, nondiscrimination laws and unique tax and federal securities laws applicable to retirement plans with company stock held as a qualified plan investment. Our attorneys also routinely counsel our clients through self-audits and error correction, including advising and assisting clients correct errors under IRS and DOL correction programs. In collaboration with our firm's bankruptcy attorneys, our attorneys also frequently advise on corporate bankruptcy issues and their impact on retirement and related ERISA plans. We also work closely with Stinson's labor practice group on issues relating to multi-employer plans and withdrawal liability issues relating to the same.

Health Care and Related Welfare Benefits

We assist clients with both the management of their health care costs and complying with the quickly expanding legal requirements associated with health care reform, HIPAA, GINA and COBRA. We advise businesses, governments and tax-exempt organizations and third-party service providers with respect to their, and their client's, health plans, health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs). We counsel employers on all facets of benefit design, set up and administration related to dental, life, disability, dependent care, adoption assistance and education assistance benefits and regularly advise on cafeteria plans, self-administered and self-insured medical plans, VEBAs, split-dollar life insurance and severance plans.

Executive Compensation

We advise on and navigating the complex tax, securities and accounting rules that involve executive compensation agreements. Our services address executive agreements, equity compensation plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans and compliance with and planning around special tax provisions relating to executive compensation agreements.

Ownership Transfers

We guide clients in transferring ownership to employees through the use of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) (leveraged and non-leveraged), stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock and restricted stock units and other forms of equity-based compensation arrangements. This includes providing counsel and transactional assistance to companies of all sizes and industries-including retail, manufacturing, food processing, engineering, computer software and architectural firms.

Age-weighted and class-based profit sharing plans

We advise on designing complex age-weighted and class-based profit sharing plans for engineering and manufacturing representatives, as well as for accounting, law and advertising firms, and other companies. In contrast to traditional profit sharing/pension plans, these types of plans permit companies to maximize the allowable amount of company contributions to business owners and highly compensated employees covered by the plan while minimizing the overall contribution outlay for all employees.

Fiduciary compliance and prohibited transactions

We routinely advise ERISA plan sponsors and fiduciaries on ERISA fiduciary and prohibited transaction issues, including providing advice on securities lending arrangements, prohibited transaction exemptions, employer stock issues, 401(k) fee reviews, service provider arrangements, fiduciary insurance policies, plan governance and payment of plan expenses. We assist our clients in establishing and maintaining benefit committees, committee charters, investment policy statements and administrative contracts and procedures.

ERISA and plan compliance audits

We advise on conducting preventive ERISA and plan compliance audits for companies in many industries, including construction and telecommunications, and tax-exempt organizations. These audits (protected by attorney-client privilege) assist employers by exposing and correcting operational and document-related errors, before any governmental audits have been initiated or participant claims have been made.

Corporate transactions and restructurings

We assist clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs and restructurings, including due diligence review of a target entity's benefit programs, advising on pre-closing and post-closing benefits and unique and complex tax compliance issues such as Section 409A deferred compensation and Section 280G "golden parachute" payment issues.


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