My husband has ESOP from Houchens. Inc 100% invested. His job closed there doors in 2011
Possibly. Your husband's account is most likely a 401K with an ESOP component. The ESOP component allowed him to own stock in Houchens as part of the 401K.
You husband CAN take a distribution from this 401K at any time assuming he is 100% vested. The question is how much should he take and how will it be taxed. Normally there is a 10% penalty on any 401K distribution under the age of 59 1/2. But there is a special rule that waives the penalty if your husband left his employer at age 55 or older. He can then take 401K distributions from the company he left at that time only and the 10% penalty will be waived. However, your husband will still owe ordinary income taxes.
I don't really know the specifics of your husband's situation so you should call the custodian for your husband's 401K and ask the same question. The custodian will be listed on the statements that husband should be getting.
One word of warning. Do not roll this account over to an IRA. Financial advisors love IRA rollovers because they can start charging you fees for managing your money. But you will lose the ability to take distributions tax-free before age 59 1/2 if you roll the money over to an IRA. This is because the age 55 exception for the 10% penalty does not apply to IRAs, only to 401Ks.
ESOP's can have special distribution rules. Your husband should contact his former employer and get a copy of the Summary Plan Description/Plan Documents and discuss with the HR department his options.
Looking at their 2013 5500 filing on DOL's website, it says Jimmy Gipson is the plan administrator and Hilliard Lyons in Louisville is the broker of record. Start by calling Houchens and ask for the benefits or HR department. If that doesn't work, you can try calling Hilliard Lyons on Jefferson St and see if you can talk to the folks that handle the plan. They should be able to get you to the right place to get a summary plan description and get the formal rules for taking money out of the plan.