Advising the Full Range of Qualified Retirement Plans

MMPL advises clients on the full spectrum of legal issues facing qualified retirement plans. Our lawyers represent clients of all types and sizes, including Fortune 50 and 500 companies, local and multi-state collectively bargained Taft-Hartley plans, state and local governmental plans, non-profit entities, and small businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country.

Our lawyers work with all kinds of retirement plans, including:

  • Traditional defined benefit pension plans and cash balance plans
  • Profit sharing, money purchase, 401(k) and other types of defined contribution plans
  • Employee stock option plans (ESOPs)
  • 457(b) plans and 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities for non-profit and governmental entities

In order to maintain “qualified” tax-exempt status, retirement plan documents and operations must satisfy numerous technical requirements in the Internal Revenue Code and IRS regulations. These rules govern plan design, coverage, benefits, funding, amendments and similar matters. Plans must also comply with detailed rules in ERISA and Department of Labor regulations related to participant communications and disclosures, claims and appeals, governmental filings, and standards for investments and other fiduciary matters. We assist qualified retirement plans and their sponsors to navigate these complex rules in a variety of contexts, including:

  • Designing and establishing new plans
  • Making plan design changes for new business needs or objectives, and responding to new laws and regulations
  • Advising on retirement plan issues in mergers and acquisitions
  • Handling IRS determination letter requests and correction of plan qualification failures
  • Drafting summary plan descriptions (SPDs) and other participant communications
  • Responding to participant benefit claims and appeals
  • Assisting on administrative and compliance issues, such as nondiscrimination testing, benefit calculations, document requests, beneficiary disputes and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)
  • Representing plans in litigation and government audits
  • Negotiating contracts with plan service providers and investment fiduciaries that comply with ERISA and appropriately protect the plan’s interests
  • Ensuring that investment and other fiduciary decisions comply with ERISA’s fiduciary standards, and that participant-directed investments, when offered, qualify for ERISA Section 404(c) “safe harbor” protection
  • Plan terminations

For most clients, we serve as full-service ERISA counsel, attending trust or committee meetings, drafting plan amendments and employee communications, analyzing and advising on the impact of new laws, and addressing other issues facing the plan as they arise. However, we are also often engaged as special counsel to handle specific legal issues, such as correction of plan compliance errors, representing the plan in a governmental audit, or handling other complex matters requiring the assistance of experienced ERISA counsel.