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Search service can hunt down lost policy paperwork

On Your Side Experian is a major information services company that helps people find their lost assets.

About 25 years ago, I took out a UK endowment policy for a mortgage, but since then I have moved many times and seem to have lost all the relevant paperwork and am unable to remember the insurance company it was with. I am fairly sure it is due to pay out this year or next and want to contact the company to find out how much is due to me. It was one of the Scottish ones, but I don't know which one, or how to go about getting some information. Do you know where I can go or who to speak to? Can you also tell me if I have to pay any tax on the amount that will be paid out. WL, Al Ain

There are several UK insurance companies that either have Scottish in their name, or have a head office in Scotland. The matter is also complicated by the fact that numerous companies have merged or changed their names over the past 25 years, so the best option would be to try to trace the policy through the Unclaimed Assets Register. This is a search service run by Experian, a major information services company that helps people find their lost assets and re-establish contact with financial institutions. You can contact the service via their website (www.uar.co.uk) or by e-mailing enquiries@unclaimedassetregister.com. There is a fixed fee of 25 (Dh146) for each search and this can be paid by credit card when completing an online search form. The register can help with finding lost endowment and pension policies as well as information regarding certain employer-related pension schemes. There is no personal tax liability on the maturity of a UK endowment policy.

I am writing to you in regard to my entitlement of end-of-service gratuity when I resign from my current job to return home. I have worked for the company for three years. During this time, the company has contributed 10 per cent of my base salary into a pension scheme on my behalf. I have heard that I am not in entitled to receive the gratuity because the company has its own superannuation/pension scheme. The clause in my contract reads as follows: "Provisions of Federal Act No (8) UAE Labour Law shall be applicable in respect of end-of-service gratuity and shall also [be] applicable for other conditions which are not provided for herein." Can you please advise what is correct? PO, Abu Dhabi

Although the UAE Labour Law states that all employees are entitled to receive an end-of-service gratuity after a year of service, it is possible for it to be substituted by some kind of pension or savings scheme provided the employee agrees to these terms and it is set out in a legal, signed contract of employment. Articles 140 and 141 of the Labour Law cover this issue. Article 140 states: "In any establishment where a saving fund is raised for employees and if the regulations of such fund provide that payments made by the employer to the fund for the account of employee is a legal commitment against the end-of-service gratuity, the amount of savings or benefits due hereunder shall be paid whichever is greater. If the fund regulations have no provisions that amounts paid by employers are a legal commitment for the end-of-service gratuity, the employee shall collect the amount due to him from the saving fund in addition to the legal gratuity." Article 141 goes on to state: "In any establishment where a pension or security schemes or similar schemes are maintained, the employee who is entitled to retirement pension may select either this latter or the prescribed gratuity or whichever from both thus is more favourable to him." As with most issues, it comes down to the wording in the employment contract, specifically the one lodged with the Ministry of Labour. If PO has documentation from the company confirming that it is contributing to a retirement plan and he has not waived his right to the end-of-service gratuity in lieu, then it appears that he is entitled to receive both amounts of money. Alternatively, if his contract makes clear note of the alternative, he may take whichever is the higher amount.

How much time can I spend in the UK in total across one year? I am on a full Nil Tax (NT) code and have been in the UAE for four years if this is relevant. I have seen both 90 days and 183 days online, but am not sure what is correct. DM, Dubai

The standard guidelines from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) state that you may spend no more than 91 days in the UK, per tax year (April 6 to April 5) to retain your non-resident status, including days of entry and exit. HMRC guidance also states: "If you leave the UK to work abroad full time, you will become non resident and non ordinarily resident in the UK if your absence and employment from the UK covers a complete tax year and you spend less than 183 days in the UK during the tax year, and your visits to the UK do not average 91 days or more a tax year over a maximum of four years." This means that if you are non-resident for many years, you will not be penalised if you spend more than 91 days in the UK during a tax year provided your average time in the UK is no more than 91 days. This allows many people who leave the UK after more than 91 days after the start of the tax year, but within six months, to be regarded as non-resident for the partial year, as well as allowing extended stays. An NT code is applied to people who are non-resident for tax purposes.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. On Your Side appears every week in Personal Finance. Write to her at Keren@holbornassets.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.


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