Stites & Harbison’s Employee Benefits Group advises clients on all aspects of employee benefits law. Our attorneys collectively have more than 80 years of employee benefits legal experience. We have assisted clients in the design, implementation and operation of all types of employee benefit plans including qualified retirement plans (e.g. 401(k) and defined benefit plans), non-qualified executive deferred compensation plans, equity based arrangements, 403(b) and 457(b) plans, ESOPs and welfare benefit programs. Our services not only extend to private sector employers including publicly traded companies but also answer the employee benefit plan needs of tax-exempt, church and governmental employers.
The following is a representative listing of the types of services our attorneys provide with respect to various plans:
- Design and create plan documents and amend and update plan documents;
- Prepare applications for determination letters
- Advise regarding ongoing operational and nondiscrimination testing issues
- Handle IRS, DOL and PBGC audits
- Advise and prepare applicable notices and documents for plan terminations
- Advise and consult with respect to plan failures and, if appropriate, prepare applications pursuant to the IRS and DOL voluntary compliance programs
- The above services are provided with respect to all qualified plans including profit sharing, 401(k), 403(b), cash balance, ESOP, defined benefit and collectively bargained plans
- Employee Benefits Due Diligence
- Prepare necessary documents to assign, terminate, etc. employee benefit plans in the business transaction context
- Negotiate employee benefits issues
- ESOP transactions
Executive and Other Deferred Compensation Plans
- Design and draft plan documents for nonqualified deferred compensation plans (including phantom stock, SARs and SERPs) and bonus plans
- Draft employment and severance agreements
- Draft and design plan documents for incentive stock options, nonqualified stock options, restricted stock plans, and phantom stock plans
- Advise clients on operational issues associated with the above arrangements
- Ensure section 409A compliance
- Counsel clients in awarding compensatory partnership interests to employees
Welfare and Cafeteria Plans
- Draft and update plan documents for cafeteria plans and all types of welfare benefit plans including health, dental, vision, disability and life
- Advise regarding cafeteria plan operational and nondiscrimination testing issues
- Advise on COBRA and HIPAA compliance
- Assist with setting up HSAs and HRAs
- Advise regarding the creation of VEBAs and preparation of trust documents and other self-insurance arrangements
Stites & Harbison’s employee benefit attorneys publish and frequently speak to a variety of professional trade organizations, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Our attorneys are members of the Louisville Employee Benefits Council, Lexington Employee Benefits Council, Southern Employee Benefits Conference and the state bars of Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee.
For both established companies and new companies, it is often essential to allow key employees to participate in the company’s future growth and profitability through equity ownership. This helps align the interests of ownership and key employees.
As sponsors of 401(k) and other retirement plans, employers typically rely on plan service providers (i.e. recordkeepers, trustees, etc.) to maintain plan accounts, keep participant accounts secure and participant data confidential. As fiduciaries, employers must act with the care and diligence under the circumstances as would a “prudent” person.
When Michael Risley entered law school at the University of Kentucky, he admitted to being initially intimidated by his big-school, big-city classmates.
Retirement plan sponsors and other fiduciaries are required by ERISA to discharge their duties with the “care, skill, prudence, and diligence” under the circumstances as would a prudent man. This means, among other things, fiduciaries should ensure that all fees paid by the plan for recordkeeping and investment management services are competitive and reasonable.