We have a lot of questions from advisers and employers regarding the payment process from making a group life claim to receiving payment using a Master Trust. We've teamed up with our Master Trust provider, PTL, to provide answers and information to the most commonly asked questions. The information below will help you to understand more about the process and what you can expect to happen, when.

Who are PTL Governance Ltd?

PTL Governance Ltd (PTL) are a professional independent trustee company selected to manage the benefits payable under the Ellipse Group Life Master Trust Scheme.

Why are PTL involved?

PTL’s role as Trustee is to determine who should receive the benefits payable by Ellipse following the death of an employee who is eligible under their employer’s Group Life policy.

What is the standard process and steps?

Investigation process:

1) Once a claim is accepted by Ellipse, PTL start their investigation by sending the employer a Beneficiary Investigation Form to complete. This form asks for information about individuals who have a close relationship with the deceased member.

2) If contact details are available PTL will also contact and send a Beneficiary Investigation Form to the individual who they believe to be acting as Personal Representative in dealing with the deceased’s affairs. They may also contact any potential beneficiaries nominated by the deceased in a Beneficiary Nomination/Expression of Wish Form. If this was completed some time ago the personal circumstances may have changed.

3) During the investigation process they seek to establish a full understanding of the personal circumstances of the deceased at the date of their death.

4) Following the return of completed Beneficiary Investigation Forms from all parties, all evidence received will be submitted to the Trustee for review. Following this review, the Trustee may decide additional information is required before a determination is made. If so, the relevant individuals will be contacted to request this. If no further evidence is required the Trustee will come to a determination.

5) Once a determination has been made by the Trustee, the identified beneficiary/beneficiaries will be contacted and asked to complete a Beneficiary Payment Authorisation Form with their bank details. PTL require a wet-ink copy of this form to be returned. Along with two original proof of identity documents, in order to process the lump sum payment.

6) Once the completed forms and identity documents have been received and authorised, PTL will process the payment within 48 hours. The funds will clear into the beneficiary’s account within 3 – 5 working days. Following this a letter is issued to advise the personal representatives of the percentage of the Standard Lifetime Allowance the payment represents. Both Ellipse and the employer (or adviser, depending on who PTL have been dealing with) are then notified payment has been made and the case has been closed.

Why do PTL write out to various next of kin? Why do they not just follow the Expression of Wish Form?

An Expression of Wish form may not always be available or it may not have been completed. If one is complete, although the Trustee is guided by nominations made by an employee on their Expression of Wish form, these are not binding on the Trustee’s decision. The Employee’s wishes are taken into account during the decision making process. However, over time personal circumstances can change and an Expression of Wish Form may not have been updated to reflect this.

PTL will contact any relevant individuals in order to identify those with a close relationship and, in particular, those financially dependent on the deceased so they can be given due consideration by the Trustee.

If an employer uses an adviser who do PTL contact?

Ellipse will instruct PTL to contact the client detailed on the claim form.

What is PTL’s complaint process?

If an individual wishes to file a complaint this can be put forward in writing to PTL’s Complaints Director, David Archer, at the following address:

David Archer
PTL Governance Limited
107 Cheapside

Why are PTL asking for the same information provided to the insurer?

PTL are duty bound to carry out a full and independent investigation into all cases they process. As such they look to have direct contact with all parties during this process.

PTL need to ensure they obtain the most up-to-date information regarding the personal circumstances of the deceased for their investigation. Therefore they will ask for more information at the point of investigation.

Why are PTL not simply paying the benefit straight to the next of kin?

Payment of the benefit is at the Trustee’s discretion, and the next of kin may not be the most suitable person to receive the benefit. Read our knowledge hub article for more information on why you should use a Trust and ensure it is kept up to date.

When will payment be made?

Payment will be made to the beneficiary/beneficiaries identified by the Trustee within 3-5 days of the return and authorisation of a completed Beneficiary Payment Authorisation form and two original proof of identity documents. These items will be requested from the beneficiary once a determination has been made by the Trustee. This is explained in Stage 4 of the investigation process.

Can the employer be kept in the loop?

PTL will make initial contact with employers at the outset of the investigation. This is to request the return of a completed Beneficiary Investigation Form, and provide any further information they feel relevant to the claim. Following this PTL will next contact the employer when payment has been made and the claim has been closed. However, if an employer wishes to contact PTL during the claims process to obtain an update on the progress of the investigation, or submit additional evidence to the Trustee, they are able to do so.

Can PTL tell the employer who the beneficiary is?

In the interests of Data Protection Regulations PTL are unable to disclose the identity of beneficiaries to any party.

Can payments be made into Trust?

Yes, payments can be made into Trust to be held for beneficiaries. This is typically for children under 18, until they reach a certain age. Whether or not a payment is made into Trust depends on the particular circumstances of each case. Where there is a clear single beneficiary i.e. the deceased spouse or partner, this is very unlikely to be the case.

Can the employer instruct PTL who to make payment to?

No, the employer is not able to instruct PTL who to award the lump sum payment to. As Trustee for the Scheme, PTL conduct a thorough, independent investigation into the personal circumstances of the deceased. This is to determine potential beneficiaries and any instances of financial dependency before a discretionary determination to whom the benefit is awarded to is made.

Can payments be made to or via the employer?

No, as mentioned above, PTL are required to conduct an investigation into the personal circumstances of the deceased before any form of payment is awarded. As it is PTL’s role as Trustee to manage this benefit, it cannot be paid out by the employer.

Is the payment free from inheritance tax?

Yes, as this is a discretionary payment it is free from inheritance tax however HMRC are advised if the payment exceeds 50% of the Standard Lifetime Allowance. The Personal Representative of the deceased is informed of the percentage of the deceased’s Lifetime Allowance the benefit constitutes. This is because in the event the total benefits from registered schemes in respect of a deceased individual exceeds the Lifetime Allowance a tax charge may be due. In the 2018/19 tax year the Lifetime Allowance is £1,030,000.

This article was written in collaboration with PTL.


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