End of life planning after you’ve lived abroad

End of life planning after you’ve lived abroad

If you’ve lived abroad for an extended period of time but are now thinking of moving back to spend your remaining years in the UK, then there are a few procedures to think about. These include passing what’s known as the Habitual Residence Test, finding out whether you’re eligible for a UK State Pension, and justifying reasons why a local authority should offer you social care. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to think about when end of life planning after you’ve lived abroad.

If you’re returning to the UK

While all UK nationals automatically have the right to live in the UK, you might still be asked to prove that you’re moving back in the long term. This might include taking the Habitual Residence Test. To access NHS healthcare services, local social care services or claim certain benefits, you’ll need to prove that you’re ‘ordinarily resident’.

What this phrase actually means, as with all other government buzzwords, isn’t entirely fixed and ends up pointing to something quite fuzzy. Really, it’s referring to where you’re going to live for the foreseeable future; you need to show you’re intending to stick around. This might mean any of the following:

  • Supplying a proof of accomodation
  • Proving you’re registered with a GP
  • Proof that you’ve given up tenancy abroad
  • Proving you have a UK bank account and have recently made transactions

What will happen to my State Pension if I return to the UK?

While you were living abroad, you’ll have been eligible to receive your UK State Pension, but it might have been frozen at the rate it was first paid. If you’ve paid contributions in more than one country, you may get separate pensions from the different countries.

You’re first action should be to find out whether you’re eligible for either a UK State Pension (it’s based on the National Insurance contribution you’ve made throughout your working lifetime), a pension from the country you moved to or both.

The International Pension Centre or the Pension Service will be able to tell you this.

What happens to your State Pension If you’re making national insurance contributions in the EU or EEA countries?

You only need to claim your state pension in the last country where you lived or worked. Your claim will cover all EEA countries (including the UK), Gibraltar and Switzerland. So you don’t need to claim for each country separately if you’re eligible.

For countries outside the EEA, you need to claim your pension from each country separately.
Check with the pension service for the country where you’ve lived or worked to find out how to make a claim.

Your UK State Pension will be based on your UK National Insurance record. You need 10 years of UK National Insurance contributions to be eligible for the new State Pension. You might be able to use time spent abroad to make up these 10 years. This is most likely if you’ve lived or worked in:

  • the EEA
  • Gibraltar
  • Switzerland
  • certain countries that have a social security agreement with the UK

All of this, of course, applies only before the UK leaves the European Union. To find out about the countries that apply, visit the GOV UK page here.

Get your end-of-life planning in order before you move back

Organising end-of-life care from abroad can get a bit tricky. To be eligible for social care – such as a bed in a hospice or a residential home – then you need to show you’re ‘ordinarily resident’ in a particular area in the UK.

We’ve come across this term before, as this is tested when you want to access the NHS after living abroad. When it comes to applying for local services for care, proving your “ordinarily resident” status also includes proving that you have a connection to an area in order to justify that local authority providing long-term care for you.

To get around this, you’ll need to think about planning ahead. Think about the area you want to move back to – do you have family who live nearby, or perhaps you’ve lived in that area before, or you’ve received care in the UK recently. All this might allow you to request a needs assessment from the local authority more easily.

Unfortunately, this is one of the only ways you can gain control of your end of life care if you’re moving back after living abroad. It might seem a little precarious, so contacting either the International Pension Centre  or the Citizens Advice Bureau can help.

Find out more

Read more of our articles on end of life planning here:

Dying in a hospice

Dying in a hospital

Dying at home

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