Raleigh, NC (March 25, 2010) - Craig Wheaton, a Smith Anderson partner in the Employee Benefits and Compensation Group, presented at a program entitled: “401(k) ESOP Integration Issues.” The program addressed the advantages and disadvantages of combining 401(k) plans and Employment Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) including testing and fiduciary compliance. The presentation was part of the The Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic and New South ESOP Association Tri-Chapter Conference held on March 18-19 in Pinehurst, NC.
ESOPs are a special type of retirement plan and have many tax advantages. ESOPs allow employees to participate in company growth on a tax-favored basis and can be used to finance company growth with pre-tax dollars or provide liquidity for company owners. Smith Anderson has an active ESOP practice and regularly assists employers of all sizes with the legal and tax aspects of establishing ESOPs and ESOP-based transactions. The firm also advises ESOP fiduciaries and provides assistance in governmental investigations and adversarial proceedings related to retirement plans and employer stock investments.
Wheaton has provided representation with respect to many tax-advantaged ESOP transactions. His experience also includes providing fiduciary representation and he has advised a publicly traded entity with respect to the merger of its ESOP and 401(k) retirement plans incident to the settlement of an ERISA class action involving many thousands of participants. He is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Employee Benefits Law for the last 10 years.