Employee Benefits / ERISA

Well-constructed benefit plans help our clients and their employees build sound and secure futures. The right kind of guidance is crucial—employers are often at the mercy of economic and regulatory forces that make pension and benefit plan costs, liabilities and compliance difficult to understand and manage.

We help business clients create the right benefit plans for employees, including:

  • Pension plans
  • Profit sharing plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs)
  • Cafeteria benefit plans
  • Group health insurance plans
  • Deferred compensation plans`
  • Stock option and stock compensation arrangements
  • Severance plans
  • Other tax-qualified and non-qualified benefit plans.

We advise employers on the rights and benefits under the plans and ensure that these plans meet all regulatory and tax requirements. We also help employers prepare and implement their plans. Our advice helps clients:

  • Comply with federal and state laws and regulations, especially regarding records retention and privacy
  • Design and select benefit plans and evaluate related vendor agreements
  • Communicate with employees on plan features and how to apply for benefits
  • Prepare internal procedures for claims processing, investigation and appeals
  • Take advantage of the tax implications of welfare benefit arrangements.

Often a particular benefit plan requires specialized advice and guidance. ESOPs, for example, can completely change a company’s culture to a more entrepreneurial outlook, while providing greater individual rewards and substantial business, tax and financial advantages. We work with you and your other business advisors, using our years of experience to provide the legal guidance you need. Manning Fulton has been involved in the establishment, maintenance, and growth of some of the largest ESOPs in North Carolina.

Structured right, executive compensation plans provide the right incentive to company leaders. Such plans help companies recruit and retain top talent while assuring senior managers that their hard work will make their families financially secure. Manning Fulton lawyers counsel companies and executives on a variety of non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including:

  • Top-hat plans
  • Supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs)
  • Stock option plans.

We also consult with individuals on tax planning options regarding required minimum distributions and other withdrawals from qualified pension plans and IRAs.

Even the best employee benefit plans can face tough questions from governing bodies and authorities. Manning Fulton represents employers and employees in administrative hearings and litigation. Our lawyers can help:

  • Defend trustees and plan administrators against alleged breach of ERISA fiduciary duty
  • Defend companies against US Department of Labor claims of alleged prohibited transactions
  • Secure individual plan exemption rulings
  • Protect individual employee benefit and pension plan coverage and benefits, in disputes ranging from termination to division of marital property
  • Represent clients in IRS audits and Department of Labor examinations
  • Advise ERISA fiduciaries on plan investments.

Employee benefit plans are the foundation for many individual and family futures. Manning Fulton lawyers work hard to ensure the strength of that foundation for employees, and to help employers reap the operational, financial and tax advantages they are entitled to by law.

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