2 June 2014
A recent adviser survey* by Skandia International, part of Old Mutual Wealth, showed there is an opportunity for advisers to make greater use of ‘nominations’ on offshore bonds. This little known feature can actually add significant value and can help the client achieve some of the benefits of a trust without actually placing the bond in a trust. Not many providers offer nominations on bonds, which could explain why nearly half of UK advisers are unaware of what a nomination is.
A nomination on an offshore bond enables the policyholder to state who they wish to pass the bond proceeds to on their death. It is a legally recognised method of ensuring assets get passed on to the correct people, and it means the proceeds can be passed on to the beneficiaries without the need for probate. Whilst a nomination might have some of the benefits of a trust, it is not technically deemed a trust, and the nominated assets remain within the policyholder’s estate and continue to be owned by them until they die.
Not being deemed a trust does have some benefits as it removes the reporting and administrative duties involved in running a trust. This makes it an attractive option for those who don’t want to set up a trust, but want some peace of mind knowing that on their death, the assets will be passed on to the person (or persons) nominated by them without any delay.
Whilst using a trust may still be the right route for many, especially those seeking Inheritance Tax planning, there are some situations where a nomination might be a preferred solution. For example, the client may be young and not want to set in stone the beneficiaries of their estate (so don’t want to set up a bare trust). Whilst a discretionary trust provides more flexibility to add or change beneficiaries, the client may not want to pay the upfront tax charge of 20% should it be a large investment.
A nomination can be applied for at any point in time and clients can choose either a revocable or irrevocable nomination. A revocable nomination can be removed or changed at any point, giving the policyholder complete flexibility and control. An irrevocable nomination can only be changed with the consent of the nominated beneficiary.
Not many providers offer this facility on their offshore bond range, so advisers need to check before they offer their clients this facility. If a provider does not offer a nomination facility, then the client will need to either set up a trust, or rely on a will to allocate assets on death, however, a will is subject to probate and can be disputed.
Interestingly, the survey results show a split between jurisdictions, with advisers in Europe, Asia and the Middle East more aware of what a nomination is, with less than a third of advisers unaware of what a nomination is. This compares to nearly half of advisers in the UK who are not aware of what it is.
Paul Schrijver, international specialist at Skandia International, comments:
“In the UK, there is an opportunity for more advisers to become aware of the benefits of using a nomination. It is not necessarily an alternative to a trust, but may help in situations where a trust is not suitable. A nomination can provide a great half way house between a will and a trust, and can offer clients peace of mind knowing the assets will be passed to the right people on their death without the delay of probate.”
*Skandia International Q2 2014 adviser survey, completed by 377 financial advisers from across the globe.