COVID & NOVAD – Legal & General embrace new approach to trusts
During the period of lockdown, advisers have had to find new ways of interacting with clients. The use of digital services have been a real enabler to carrying out tasks that were taken for granted when face-to-face meetings were possible. When it comes to completing trusts we have seen a number of digital solutions deployed by insurers in the last few years. Legal & General are no exception to this, however up until now the digital capabilities have only supported trusts being put in place pre-application. In this article we explore the new changes Legal & General have made to their trust processes to make it easier for advisers to put policies in trust post a policy being put in force.
Legal & General have had a pre-application digital trust journey in place for some time. This functionality is available in the application process in OLP Connect and enables an adviser to pre-populate the trust with the required details from the application, only asking the adviser to input details of the trustees and beneficiaries. Most importantly in these current times the setting up of this trust does not require a signature in any form, wet or digital, with the adviser completing the whole process. Once the application is accepted and put in force the trust documentation is sent to both the client and trustees for their records.
In a world where people are unable to meet face-to-face this is a great process, however there are many reasons as to why a trust might not be put in place before an application is committed. When this is the case the setting up of a trust post the policy being put in force should be as easy as it is pre-application.
Up until now the process for completing a trust post the policy being put in force required the manual completion of a paper trust with a wet signature that needed to be witnessed. This is clearly not a process that works in the current world as advisers would be reliant on clients having a printer to sign the trust or alternatively posting documents which will take valuable time. In addition to this having their signature witnessed whilst observing social distancing would be extremely difficult.
In response to the new world we find ourselves in and adviser feedback, Legal & General have changed their process so that a trust can now be established without requiring a witness signature. Advisers looking to set up a trust for a policy that is in force, can now download an editable PDF trust form. The details of the policyholder, plan, trustees and beneficiaries can be completed within the PDF, which can then be sent to the policyholder for signature. If received digitally the editable PDF includes a tick box which the policyholder can tick to confirm the trust. Alternatively, the trust form can be printed and the client can sign the documents before returning it. Positively, Legal & General have confirmed that they would accept both scanned and photographs of the completed trust form as long as the information is legible.
As lockdown continues, insurers are working hard to provide advisers with better and often more digital processes to help them put and keep protection in force. This must be applauded. Such changes should not be temporary but should be the new normal when we can move past the current arrangements to the so called #NOVAD.
At present this process is only available for discretionary trusts used for a single life family protection plan and as such we would encourage Legal & General to make other forms of trust available through this process as soon as possible. They do, however, vastly improve on the previous processes and make it far easier for advisers to obtain a completed trust. We also understand that that this is just the first step in simplifying the trust process for in force policies and Legal & General are looking into how they can further improve this process and we look forward to seeing the fruits of this.