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Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum (UFPLS) - Series of Withdrawals


What Is It?

Taking a series of Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sums (UFPLS) is effectively a form of phased retirement (or “staggered vesting”) which is a means of taking retirement benefits from an uncrystallised pension plan without first having to move the funds into a drawdown pension plan. The main objective is to provide a greater degree of control and flexibility over your pension fund.

Compared to a conventional annuity, where the basis of income is fixed at outset and is unable to be amended, taking a series of UFPLS payments allows more flexibility with income being varied according to changing needs.

Eligibility

In order to take advantage of UFPLS there are a number of conditions that need to be met:

  • You must be aged 55 or over or, if younger, meet ill-health conditions.
  • The payment must be payable from your uncrystallised rights held in a money purchase pension.
  • If you are aged under 75, you must have more lifetime allowance remaining than the lump sum required.
  • If aged over 75, you must have some lifetime allowance remaining.
  • If you have primary or enhanced protection with protected tax free cash (TFC) or a lifetime allowance enhancement factor but the lump sum allowance is less than 25% you can’t take your benefits as a UFPLS.
  • Where scheme specific lump sum protection exists, the right to the higher TFC would have to be given up in order to use UFPLS.

Main Features of UFPLS

Age and Health

You can choose how much you want to withdraw without reference to any rates or limits other than the size of your pension fund.

If you or your spouse is relatively young, a secured pension (lifetime annuity or scheme pension) would be less attractive due to the lower mortality factor.

Investment Risk

The value of any uncrystallised segments may go down as well as up and investment returns may be less than those shown in the illustrations.

This could result in a lower income if/when an annuity is eventually purchased.

Other Risks

Annuity rates may be at a lower level when annuity purchase takes place and there is no guarantee that your income will be as high as that offered under the other options referred to earlier.

There is no guarantee that annuity rates will improve in the future. They could be lower if/when you decide to purchase an annuity than they are currently. Your pension may be lower than if you bought a lifetime annuity now.

Flexibility

You can take all of your pension fund as a lump sum or take your fund in stages over a number of years.

An annuity or drawdown pension can be purchased with any of the funds you withdraw (or you can utilise the funds in any way you see fit).

You can elect to take any uncrystallised pension funds in other formats such as annuity purchase or flexi-access drawdown.

Your uncrystallised pension funds continue to be invested, thus providing you with the possibility of higher future income. This depends largely on how much you take out of the pension fund and future investment returns achieved on the residual fund.

You will be able to change the shape of your retirement income to reflect your personal circumstances in the future. Should your health deteriorate, it may be possible to achieve a better annuity rate (i.e. higher income) in future. It is also possible to postpone the choice of whether to include any survivor’s pensions until a lifetime annuity is purchased – this could be valuable for someone whose spouse is in poor health.

Taxation

You will receive the first 25% of all withdrawals tax free and the remainder will be taxed at your marginal rate(s) of tax.

You will not receive all of your tax free cash as a lump sum at outset, if you are accessing your pension fund gradually over time and using the cash to supplement your income.

The provider of your pension plan will make your payment through the PAYE system and you should be aware that if they do not hold your correct tax code, an emergency code will be used and you may need to reclaim or pay additional tax through your self-assessment tax return or by way of a separate claim.

You can structure your income to mitigate liability to personal income tax. By reducing your withdrawal in some years you may be able to avoid a higher rate tax liability.

All statements concerning the tax treatment of products and their benefits are based on our understanding of current tax law and HM Revenue and Customs’ practice. Levels and bases of tax relief are subject to change.

Transfers & Withdrawals

The first 25% of any lump sum is tax free and you will be taxed at your marginal rate(s) on the remainder.

You can take all or part of your pension fund at any time.

Benefits may commence at any time from the age of 55. From 6 April 2011 rules were introduced such that anyone with a defined contribution pension arrangement (not final salary) who had not, before that date, taken a pension, could postpone the decision to take benefits from their scheme indefinitely (the previous requirement was that an income had to be secured by age 75 at the latest).

With UFPLS, in the first year of retirement or drawing benefits you decide on the level of income that you require and ask the pension provider to make payment of that amount to you as a lump sum. 25% of each UFPLS is tax free with the balance taxable as earned income. The remaining pension fund is left invested until required. In the second year (or when required) you decide how much income is needed and withdraw another UFPLS from your uncrystallised pension plan – 25% tax free and the balance taxable. In each subsequent year (or on an ad-hoc basis) the same process is repeated allowing you to take account of changing personal and family circumstances. This process can be continued indefinitely subject to there being sufficient funds remaining.

Availability

Some products will not be able to support UFPLS and you may need to transfer your pension fund before being able to withdraw your funds.

Long term care

Any uncrystallised segments will be taken into consideration should you require long term care in the future. If you have withdrawn all of your pension fund and it is in a bank account or other savings vehicle it may also be taken into account.

Treatment after death

Any pension funds that are still uncrystallised on your death (ie. remain in your pension plan untouched) can be paid to your beneficiaries as a lump sum, used to provide an annuity income or moved into drawdown to be drawn on as and when required. Funds withdrawn as a lump sum or as annuity or drawdown income will be tax free if you died before age 75. On death after age 75, both income and lump sum payments (annuity or drawdown) are taxed on the recipients at their marginal tax rate(s).

If you take the UFPLS and do not spend it, it will be included in your estate and be assessable for inheritance tax.

Type of charges

There may be ongoing charges for any uncrystallised segments.

Future planning issues

If your health/circumstances change, you can move any uncrystallised segments into drawdown and or/purchase an annuity.

Further tax-relievable pension contributions may be made before age 75. Where an UFPLS payment has been taken, tax relievable contributions to money purchase pensions will be limited to the £4,000 money purchase annual allowance rather than the standard annual allowance of £40,000.

When you first flexibly access your pension, the scheme administrator has to provide a statement to you within 31 days. You must then notify any other schemes that you are an active member of (i.e. where contributions are being paid to a money purchase scheme or you are accruing benefits under a cash balance or hybrid scheme) within 91 days of receiving their statement, so that they're also aware that the £4,000 money purchase annual allowance will apply.