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The growing popularity of pension transfers is evidence of the tremendous benefits that can be had by doing so.
The right to transfer your pension benefits from the UK to an approved overseas location was created by legislation in 2006 but it is only recently that the price and availability of suitable overseas schemes have developed sufficiently to give them broader appeal.
So who should be considering transferring their pension funds and why?
Simply put, everybody who has retained pension benefits in the UK should review their existing schemes and compare them with the benefits available through a Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) before deciding whether or not to transfer them. The possible advantages in transferring your pension(s) could prove to be considerable including:
No compulsory annuity purchase: thatís right, you will never be forced to purchase an annuity unless you want to.
From age 55 up to 25% of your fund can be taken as tax free cash!. If you are aged 55 or over now and transfer your UK pension fund(s) you can take a tax free lump sum straight away.
Tax free income. Pension benefits are payable without any tax being deducted. However, you may be liable for tax in your country of residence.
Improved death benefits: After your death your fund remains fully intact so that the remainder can be enjoyed in full by your spouse and after them, your children.
Choice of currency: Benefits can be taken in any currency and modified to suit any change in circumstance.
Consolidation: you can pool numerous small and seemingly insignificant pension plans into one meaningful sized fund.
Personal investment management: You can appoint your own professional asset manager to manage your pension fund for you.
Security: Move your money away from troubled UK company schemes where five FTSE 350 companies including BA, Trinity Mirror and BT have deficits that exceed their market capitalization.
What if I fully intend to return to the UK?
In this instance a QROPS may not be suitable because once you are a UK resident again your pension is liable to UK rules. However, you could transfer your UK pensions to a UK Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) instead.
The principal differences between a QROPS and a SIPP are that benefits taken from the offshore plan are not subject to tax at source (but maybe in your country of residence) and that upon death, the UK pension fund could be subject to tax at 35% whilst the offshore pension fund can be received by your surviving partner tax free.
For many expatriates the advantages of transferring to a QROPS (or if appropriate a SIPP) will prove compelling so ,why not ask us to prepare a comprehensive report for you in which we will compare the differences between your current retained UK pension benefits and those available to you via a pension transfer.
Remember, it wonít cost you a penny to find out but it could transform your financial future!