Qualified Retirement Plans

Working with qualified retirement plans is a key component of the McGuireWoods employee benefits practice.  We regularly provide advice regarding 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), cash balance and other defined benefit pension plans, 403(b) plans, 457 plans and other types of qualified retirement plans.  We help clients design, amend, administer, restructure, merge, spin-off and terminate such plans. Our clients include plan sponsors (employers), plan administrators, trustees and other fiduciaries, investment managers, investment advisers and other plan service providers.

We routinely represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and other government agencies on qualified retirement plan matters.  We help clients obtain from these agencies determination letters, private letter rulings, opinions, exemptions and other individualized guidance.  We also help our clients favorably resolve audits, examinations and claims concerning our clients’ qualified retirement plans.  We assist clients in performing self-audits of their qualified retirement plans and help them to address potential errors through various agency-sponsored correction programs, such as the IRS’ Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and the DOL’s Voluntary Fiduciary Compliance and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance programs.

We counsel clients on ERISA fiduciary considerations that relate to the administration of qualified retirement plans and the management of plan assets.  This includes advice regarding selection and monitoring of investment managers and other plan service providers, negotiation of investment and other plan service provider agreements, and compliance with participant disclosure requirements.

We work closely with other lawyers in our corporate, securities, and finance practices on transactional matters that involve qualified retirement plans.  For example, we negotiate matters affecting qualified retirement plans in mergers and acquisitions, and help clients integrate and dispose of plans following such transactions.  In addition, we work with lawyers in our Employee Benefits litigation group to develop strategies for avoiding litigation for our clients’ plans and for prevailing when litigation arises.

We also have expertise in a number of specialized qualified retirement plan matters , such as multiemployer pension plans, plan funding requirements, early retirement window programs and issues relating to downsizings and plan shut-downs.



    Major U.S. airline subsidiary

    Obtain a private letter ruling from the IRS that saved a plan sponsor $20 million in additional pension costs.


    Review and Analyze Client Retirement Program

    Representation to review and analyze operational failures under client retirement programs, including comprehensive risk analysis and outline of correction procedures and submissions under the IRS EPCRS program.


    Large public company

    Conducted audit of all retirement programs maintained by a large public company, including all documentation and communications. The scope included assessing whether the administration of the various programs was consistent with the plan documents and how to minimize the fiduciary exposure of the company and its employees.


    Fortune 100 company

    Representation of a Fortune 100 company in connection with a total outsourcing of retirement plan administration to a third-party provider.


    Fortune 100 company

    Assisted with the restructuring of the investment portfolio of a Fortune 100 company’s defined benefit pension plan.

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