Unregulated advisers could cost you a fortune warns legal expert, after the collapse of a national company.

30 October 2018

The collapse of a firm that pledged to look after people’s assets and save them thousands in care fees and inheritance tax has prompted another warning about the work of unregulated advisers.

Legal specialists at Wilkin Chapman solicitors have issued a series of such warnings over the last 18 months, sparked by issues across Lincolnshire and the Humber.

Recent news that a company called Universal Wealth Management is in administration has seen the advice repeated in a bid to stop people, especially the elderly, falling victim to similar unregulated advisers.

Universal Wealth Management ran seminars right across the UK, titled ‘Keep It In The Family.’ Staff at these seminars promised to protect people’s assets – money and property – from inheritance tax or future care home charges.

In many cases, people put their homes into a trust run by the company hoping to avoid paying future care fees. Whether or not these people will now get control of their assets is not yet known.

This summer Lucy Butterfint – a senior solicitor with Wilkin Chapman’s estates, tax and trusts department – told how unregulated advisers, working in a similar way, had approached an elderly couple who were visiting an event near Lincoln.

They had been asked for £2,000 to put their house into a Trust. When Lucy was asked to check, she discovered the couple would not escape future care charges anyway as their savings meant they were above the threshold – so it would have been a complete waste of time and money.

At a similar time, marketing flyers advertising the work of another unregulated Trust and Will adviser were distributed across the region.

Lucy’s colleague Senior solicitor Alison Elwess said: “It is vital that people understand how anyone can set up as a Will writer, with no requirement for any prior training or knowledge. This is the same when it comes to selling Trusts.

“These salespeople are very good at appearing to be informed and will often hold events where individuals or couples are persuaded to trust them with their assets.

“Many people assume that these unregulated advisers are cheaper than seeking proper regulated legal advice, or that they offer better value. But be warned, their fees are often higher, and they may well sell a product that is both expensive and completely unnecessary. Or, as in the case of Universal Wealth Management, they may face unnecessary costs to take back control of their property,” added Alison.

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