Buffington and Aaron

Diane Aaron

Diane Aaron specializes in employee benefits, including qualified and nonqualified retirement plans and health and welfare benefit plans. Her practice includes preparation of and legal advice on profit sharing, 401(k), defined benefit, cash balance and executive compensation plans, as well as general tax and business advice. Diane also offers advice to plan fiduciaries and provides fiduciary training courses. Diane serves as an expert witness in employee benefit and compensation matters and is a member of The Panel of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association.

Diane’s clients consist generally of individuals and entities in the personal services businesses, including attorneys, engineers, accountants, physicians, consultants, real estate brokers, architects, retirement plan service providers, financial institutions and sales organizations.

Diane is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law and has an AV 5.0 Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, based on her very high legal ability and ethical standards as judged by her peers. Diane has taught employee benefits classes at Golden Gate University School of Law and UC Hastings College of the Law and has been a speaker at educational conferences, including ALI-ABA, PLI, ASPA, Women Tax Lawyers, National Business Institute and Western Pension Conference. She also is a member of the Employee Benefits Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association and the Small Business Counsel of America, an advocate for small businesses.

In addition to having 30 plus years of experience, Diane considers among her greatest strengths being responsive, reliable, creative and sensitive to clients’ needs. While she has considerable experience, Diane remains excited about her practice and takes pride in keeping a fresh perspective when resolving problems.

Diane’s practice focuses on the following areas:

Retirement Planning

Diane advises clients on all aspects of employee benefit planning, as prescribed by the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA, including the selection and design of an appropriate plan and preparation of the documents necessary to implement that plan. Diane’s expertise extends to the following types of plans:

  • Profit sharing, including cross-tested and permitted disparity plans
  • 401(k), including Roth deferral and automatic contribution features
  • Defined benefit
  • Cash balance
  • ESOPs
  • Stock bonus
  • Money purchase pension
  • Executive deferred compensation
  • 403(b) for tax-exempt and government entities
  • 457 for government entities
  • Flexible benefit/cafeteria
  • Medical expense reimbursement
  • Fringe and other welfare benefits


  • Correction of defects under IRS and DOL amnesty programs (EPCRS, DFVC and VFCP)
  • Controlled group analysis
  • Prohibited transaction analysis
  • Fiduciary duty analysis and training, including services as an expert witness
  • Independent contractor/employee analysis
  • Defending IRS and DOL audits of employee benefit plans and claims against plan fiduciaries
  • Preparing and reviewing qualified domestic relations orders
  • Preparing plan policies to minimize fiduciary liability
  • Analysis of status as government entity
  • COBRA issues
  • Review of audits to plan financial statements

Tax and Corporate Matters

  • Tax planning for distributions from qualified retirement plans and IRAs
  • Drafting employee benefit provisions in stock and asset purchase agreements