Butzel's Employee Benefits team provides a comprehensive array of technical compliance and counseling services that relate to a business qualified retirement plans. Our attorneys assist employers throughout the life cycle of a retirement plan, from initial plan design and drafting through plan termination and disposition of its assets, while maintaining the objective of helping make retirement plans effective tools in meeting an employers specific benefits needs. Butzel's clients rely on the extensive experience our attorneys possess in structuring plans, amending plans to comply with constantly changing technical requirements, advising on plan administration and compliance issues, obtaining favorable IRS determination letters, and assisting with plan compliance corrections through government sponsored compliance programs. In addition to drafting individually designed retirement plans, Butzel sponsors both a prototype defined contribution retirement plan and a volume submitter defined contribution retirement plan for clients who may benefit from these types of pre-approved plans.

Butzel's Employee Benefits attorneys provide strategic planning and implementation assistance on retirement plan mergers, plan terminations and conversions, and proper treatment of qualified retirement plans in corporate acquisitions and dispositions. Our clients turn to us to help guide them through their business opportunities and legal obligations when providing retirement incentives for downsizing and crafting effective retirement based severance packages. We work closely with our clients labor relations personnel in properly managing qualified retirement plan issues in the context of collective bargaining, including with regard to multiemployer pension fund contribution obligations and managing potential withdrawal liability.

Butzel attorneys provide employers strategic advice outside of the strict technical plan qualification context. Our benefits attorneys serve as legal counsel to pension and 401(k) plan investment and administrative committees, often as regular attendees at committee meetings. We provide on-going fiduciary best practice services related to qualified retirement plans. As part of our benefits counseling and compliance services, our attorneys negotiate vendor contracts with retirement plan service providers, such as trustees, investment managers and consultants, actuaries, record keepers, and insurance companies. Whether our clients are seeking full service, comprehensive legal assistance related to their qualified retirement plans, or advice on unique plan related legal problems, the Butzel Employee Benefits practice group provides cost effective, understandable, and timely solutions.


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  • Section 401(k) Plans (drafting plan documents and answering legal/compliance issues)
  • Assisted tier one automotive supplier in analyzing defined benefit plan funding restrictions and correction of misapplication of benefit distribution and benefit accrual limitations
  • Amended and restated 14 defined benefit pension plans of major tier one automotive supplier and filed them with the IRS.
  • Assisted large manufacturing company in responding to Pension Protection Act funding limitations on plan distributions and benefit accruals, including union implications
  • Negotiated with the IRS to allow retroactive amendment to pension plan eligibility language for large manufacturing company to exclude large group of employees not intended to benefit, preventing multi-million dollar liability
  • Retiree Medical Plans (drafting plan documents and answering legal/compliance issues)
  • Assisted tier one automotive supplier in structuring plant closing benefits for union employees; analyzed legal issues on providing pension accruals post-plant closing and advice on benefit funding, vesting and reporting and disclosure obligations
  • Provided strategic advice and analysis for publicly traded Fortune 500 company on approach to managing multiemployer pension funds in endangered or critical status and withdrawal liability risks for more than 100 multiemployer pension funds
  • Prepared plan documents and coordinated compliance efforts in connection with merger of four defined benefit pension plans into employer’s consolidated national pension plan
  • Review a wide variety of nonqualified deferred compensation plans, severance plans and individual employment and other agreements to determine compliance with Code Section 409A before December 31, 2008 document compliance deadline
  • Negotiated complex administrative service and outsourcing agreement for group of large related 401(k) plans
  • Prepared RFP for investment consultant search for 9 qualified retirement plans sponsored by major tier one auto supplier with over $600 million in assets; participated in interview and selection process and negotiated investment consultant contract
  • Prepared numerous filings and applications to present to the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of clients to facilitate the determination that the clients’ employee pension benefit plans remained tax-qualified.
  • Assisted tier one automotive supplier with merging single employer union pension plan into multiemployer national pension fund; negotiated merger agreement and liability and asset transfer terms; provided technical compliance guidance
  • IRS audit re auction house's 401(k) plan contributions
  • Provided strategic advice and analysis for publicly traded Fortune 500 company on approach to managing multiemployer pension funds in endangered or critical status and withdrawal liability risks for more than 100 multiemployer pension funds
  • Established fiduciary compliance program for qualified retirement plans with 9,000 participants/$600 million in assets; drafted documents on committee members, authority, responsibility and rules and policies for paying expenses from plan assets
  • Assisted with termination, assignment and transition of employee benefits programs in stock sale of information technology-based subsidiary of public company, including assigning certain plans to parent and transitioning other programs to buyer.
  • Successfully obtained IRS approval and Compliance Statement under the Employee Plan Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) to retroactively correct 23 operational and plan document errors for major tier one automotive supplier's pension plan
  • Prepared timelines and provided compliance guidance and required documents for merger of several retirement plans, to achieve cost savings
  • Negotiated and prepared documents in asset purchase by consumer packaged goods company for transition of health benefits; analyzed avoidance of multiemployer withdrawal liability and new retirement programs for union and non-union employees
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