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Allen, Allen & Ms E SSAS (PO-22369)

Complainant: Ms E
Complaint Topic: Death benefits
Ref: PO-22369
Outcome: Upheld
Appeal outcome: None
Respondent: Member Trustees (Mr Simon Allen and Mrs Louise Allen)
Whitehall Group
Type: Pension complaint or dispute
Appeal: No

Ombudsman’s Determination


Having fully considered the evidence and submissions presented on the papers and those provided at the Oral Hearing, I uphold Ms E’s complaint against the Trustees of the Scheme. I have found that:  

  1. the November 2019 decision was improperly made; 
  2. the Trustees failed to take into account the fact that the Member Trustees were conflicted between their personal/business interests and their fiduciary duty as trustees; and 
  3. too much emphasis was placed on irrelevant factors, such as the two-year tax deadline and the level of liquid funds available in the SSAS. 

The sequence of events and the circumstances in this case have led me to conclude that the only appropriate and fair way in which to deal with the matter is for me to now make the distribution decision. I do so by directing that the remaining balance of Mr SD’s death benefits, without any reduction, is paid to Ms E, as set out in my Directions in paragraphs 199 to 201 below. The delay in reaching a decision, which could have been avoided by the Trustees, may now result in an income tax liability being payable and, if so, this should be borne by the Trustees. 

I direct that the following payments are made to Ms E: Whitehall £2,000; and the Member Trustees £1,000, for the severe distress and inconvenience this has caused her. 

Complaint summary

Ms E’s complaint is that the Trustees (collectively the Member Trustees and Whitehall) failed to administer the SSAS in an appropriate manner and have not made a proper decision in designating part of her late brother’s fund to Mr Allen.

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