These are life policies taken out by an employer to provide death in service benefits for an employee and their family. But to make sure the plan benefits are paid to the right people, the plan must be written in trust. And for maximum tax efficiency, the trust must be in place before the plan starts.
Therefore, it’s important when writing these policies that all the necessary ‘paperwork’ is completed at the right time. But, of course, the vast majority of life insurance applications are no longer made using a paper process. So it makes sense to have the option to create trusts online. Now online trusts aren’t new - they’ve been available to advisers and their clients for several years in different forms. They range from allowing the necessary information to be entered into a pdf document which can be printed and wet signatures applied, to online data entry to generate a form which is then circulated to all parties for digital signatures. But there are also signature free versions where, by following the right process, an adviser can create the trust on behalf of their clients, at the same time as submitting their application.
To create any trust there are three things needed - known as the three certainties.
The traditional approach is to evidence all of this in a deed. But the legal requirements to create a valid deed are quite onerous, including the need for the deed to be signed by the settlor and for their signature to be witnessed. For a policy that is already in force, this is the only way the trust can be created as the legal ownership of the policy must be transferred to the trustees, which can only be done by deed.
But, for a new policy, it is possible to create a trust simply by asking the insurance company to issue the policy to the trustees from the plan’s start date. This doesn’t involve an assignment and therefore doesn’t require a deed or a signature, as long as the three certainties are present.
Online trusts aren’t new - they’ve been available to advisers and their clients for several years in different forms.
At Royal London we now give you a choice as to how and when you complete the trust form for a relevant life policy.
This signature free method asks for the same information as the others but you won’t have to re-enter anything you’ve already told us and we’ll send a copy of the completed trust to the plan owner and their trustees as soon as you submit the application. We’ll also note your client’s trust in our records automatically so you can be sure we’ve received it with no risk of the form going missing in the post.
But remember, whichever method you choose, it’s essential for the trust to be completed before the plan starts to ensure the benefits are paid to the right people and gain maximum tax efficiency.
Watch our short animation for more information on our signature free process.
Find out more about our Relevant Life trust.
Ian has worked in financial services for 35 years and has provided technical support and product development for over 25 years. He joined Royal London in 2001, initially as technical product manager for Bright Grey, before becoming head of product development & technical support for both Bright Grey and Scottish Provident and latterly product architect for Royal London.