Settlement Agreement Review

Ambiguous verbiage in settlement agreements and retirement plans is often the cause of liability or exposure to liability. We make sure our clients and attorney clients understand the intricacies of retirement plans and provide clear and accurate language to avoid any potential liability.

WFA Econometric Group provides services related to the review and recommendations for purposes of settlement agreement language as it relates to:

Retirement Plans

  • Retirement Plans

  • IRAs

  • Investment Accounts

Retirement Plans are often the largest of marital assets. Liability or exposure to liability is not limited to QDROs. In fact, it is often derived from settlement agreement language due to:

  • Lack of Understanding Retirement Plans by the Attorney(s)

  • Mis-Identifying Retirement Plans (referring to pensions as “accounts”)

  • Settlement agreements are often vague, ambiguous, or simply insufficient

  • Using the Incorrect Terminology – what means one thing to the attorneys or the court can be something entirely different to the plan administrator, often to the detriment of the spouse receiving benefits

  • Awarding “50% of the Marital Portion” when plans may not calculate a marital portion

  • Misuse of coverture fractions – applied to an accrued pension benefit to exclude a premarital portion OR applied to the retirement benefit at retirement, affording increases to the spouse’s share

  • Assuming employee contributions into a pension plan equates to value

Settlement Agreements and Case Law

In many states, the party’s settlement agreement will prevail over the case law of the state as well as any federal law that may be argued.  This means that settlement agreements carry a lot of weight.

Ask yourself:

  • Does a premarital portion exist, placing the burden on the plan participant spouse to provide documentation

  • Include or address all potential benefits, using verbiage "if any" or "Should the Plan allow…"

  • With government pension plans address the possibility of DROP or BacDrop

  • Loans on 401(k) accounts – the plan participant is always responsible for paying back a loan but BOTH parties are responsible for the loan or only the plan participant’s spouse

  • Are the values of the retirement accounts (before-tax assets) being commingled with after-tax or non-taxable assets, e.g., car, furniture, house

  • Are all past retirement plans addressed, e.g., frozen pension plans

    Are You Looking for Expert Help with Settlement Agreements?

    WFA Econometric Group can offer advice on all of these issues. We have provided expert testimony in state and federal court and are retained to consult on appellate briefs. WFA Econometric Group has the unique experience to help protect your client.