How to set up a personal injury trust

Setting up a personal injury trust does not have to be complicated or expensive. I offer a fixed fee of £480 including VAT.

A personal injury trust is a legitimate device which holds personal injury compensation. Benefit regulations allow personal injury compensation held in a trust to be ignored. A personal trust is perfectly legitimate, being allowed by the benefit regulations temeselves.

I have set out all the points you must think about and the information I will need to help you. This page is similar to the infomation I provide to a new client. Use the page to inform yourself, but it is best we talk first, just to be sure you need a trust.

The usual answer to the needs of a compensated person who receives means-tested benefits or care, is a bare trust to hold personal injury compensation. This is the simplest form of trust. It is easy to manage, has no tax complications and allows the compensated person to retain a level of control. Provided you follow a few simple rules, you can use the trust fund with freedom.

Personal injury trust Mark Thompson Law

A trust should have at least two trustees. A friend or family member can act as trustee provided they are at least 18 years of age. The ideal trustee, is someone who accepts the money is yours and will work with you to use the compensation for your benefit.

You may be a trustee, but it is best for you not to be a trustee. The trust will hold your money, so I can understand why you might want to feel in control and be one of the bank account holders.

If you decide to be one of the trustees, you should have at least two other trustees. The reason is a bare trust is a “device” for holding your own money. If you were ever the only trustee, your trust ends, as you are then holding your money for yourself, which is no longer a trust. This would only happen if your other trustee died suddenly, the trust ending at the time of that death, leaving you no opportunity to add another trustee. I appreciate this may seem unlikely, but I think the third trustee a very necessary precaution. I am also concerned that as the only remaining trustee of a trust, which could be said to have ended, access to trust funds and assets will be difficult.

If you are to be a trustee and prefer to have only one other trustee, we need a discussion. I will require your specific instructions that you understand the risk and wish to proceed on that basis.

When choosing trustees, please make sure they have a good credit history/rating. The trustees will have to open a bank account and a poor credit score may mean a bank or building society will refuse to allow them to be an account holder.

We must plan ahead and consider what should happen to the money in the trust if you die. The simplest and best approach is to include a clause in the trust which transfers the remaining trust fund to your estate, to be dealt with under your Will. This strikes me as most sensible, as having separate provisions in your trust and your Will may frustrate your ultimate wishes. A Will is flexible, as it can be changed, but the trust cannot be changed. The alternative is to name persons to whom your trustees are to pay any remaining trust fund at your death. You can choose either route, but a Will is the best solution.

You are not bound to follow my suggestion. If you want the trust to contain a clause which deals with distribution of any funds in the event of your death, please tell me what you have in mind.

I have to be mindful of the regulations which apply to money laundering. These regulations are the reason you are asked to prove your identity and address when undertaking a financial transaction. Please therefore send me your driving licence or passport and a domestic bill or bank statement which names you. You can send them as email attachments or by post.

Once the trust is complete, the trustees will set up a separate bank or building society account to hold the funds. Do not contact banks before the trust is complete, as without the trust document, a bank or building society will not be able to help you. That account must hold only the compensation from the personal injury action and any income received on that money. The account can be a deposit account rather than a current account if you wish, but do make sure access to the funds is convenient. I suggest you set up the trust first and then approach banks and building societies. The account ought to require signatures of at least two trustees. The account should have the same name as the trust itself, so it is clear to benefit agencies the trust holds the compensation separate from your personal funds.  You are not limited to a single account as the trust will contain powers which allow you to open other accounts and investments, including property. The protection of the trust will cover these investments provided the trust owns the investment and receives any income or interest.

The best approach is to set up the bank account to receive the compensation. This will make an audit trail of the compensation money easy to follow. If you have already received your compensation payment, that can be transferred to the trust bank account, but do retain statements and documents to confirm the money came from a personal injury compensation case.

Please note, the compensation and trust should be made known to any agency which deals with the assessment of your means-tested benefit or care. They should be told you have received compensation and you have set up a trust.  It is simpler if I give notice to your benefit agencies on your behalf when all is in place.

The money in the trust can be used pretty much as you wish. There used to be complicated rules. Most of these rules have now been brought to an end, but as rules can change, I recommend you keep a record of all transactions of the trust. One thing I strongly advise you to avoid, is paying a regular amount from the trust bank account to your personal bank account. Paying yourself “wages” to cover the necessities of life can clash with benefit agencies’ interpretation of what is a trust. The simple rule is to use your benefits for the basics of life for which they are intended, then use the trust for anything else. Pay for items direct from trust funds, avoiding the money passing through your hands or personal bank account. Getting into an argument with a benefit agency is to be avoided, as they may stop benefits and leave it to you to prove they are wrong.  This may all appear artificial, as you may not always be in receipt of benefits, but as it could prove necessary in the future to show how the trust fund was used, you should keep your records from the start.

It is worth repeating that you should not transfer money to your personal bank account or withdraw cash from the trust. By doing this you will lose the protection of the trust and the transferred money or cash will become subject to benefits means-testing. This is the case even if the money is only held briefly. The trust bank account should be used to directly purchase items.

I think the most convenient way to instruct me is to use an online facility to provide information and documents.

A list of everything I will need to prepare a trust for your compensation is set out below:

  1. The date of your accident, or a description of your injury and the period if it occurred over time.
  2. Your full name, address, telephone number and email address.
  3. Your national insurance number.
  4. Your date of birth.
  5. Do you currently claim benefits? If yes, please list the benefits.
  6. Copy documents to confirm your identity – passport OR driving licence, AND a utility bill or bank statement.
  7. Do you wish to be a trustee?
  8. Please provide the full name/s and address of the person or persons to act as trustee/s.
  9. To confirm the identity of the trustees please provide passport or driving licence AND a utility bill or bank account statement.
  10. Should any trust fund remaining at your death be dealt with under your Will? If not, what are your wishes?
  11. The amount you received as compensation. I need the gross settlement or Judgment figure as well as the actual amount you are to receive.
  12. Have you received any interim payments, and if so when were payments received and the amount?
  13. Have you received a final settlement and if so when was the money received and where is it held?
  14.  Documents such as a Court Order or letters or emails from your solicitor to confirm the personal injury claim, the date of the injury, and the amount of compensation.

Related Content

How much does it cost to set up a personal injury trust?
Personal injury trusts guide
Instruct me online

Open and use a personal injury trust bank account

Protect your compensation

Receiving interim or final compensation payment?

You may need a trust to protect benefits and local authority care.

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