13 August 2018

Legal experts warn about unregulated advisers

Lucy Butterfint Partner and Head of Wills, Estates, Tax & Trusts

Elderly couple were offered £2,000 to protect their future - but they did not need to spend a penny! Expert's warning about Unregulated Advisers.

Marketing flyers advertising the work of unregulated Trust and Will advisers should be approached with caution, warns a leading local solicitor in family and private matters.

Targeting elderly people, often in affluent rural areas, there are a growing number of such ‘professionals’ who have been present at recent regional events, as well as organising their own sales and marketing activities.

However, warned Lucy Butterfint – a senior solicitor with Wilkin Chapman’s estates, tax and trusts department – people should be very careful before signing up.

Lucy, a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and Solicitors for the Elderly, recalls an incident at a rural event in the county this summer that was set to cost a couple hundreds of pounds, which they did not need to pay.

“The couple had been approached about putting their house into Trust at a cost of £2,000. Unsure whether this was right, they came to see us before signing anything,” explained Lucy.

When questioned, it emerged the couple had been asked nothing about their incomes or other assets.

“It turned out they would have sufficient income to pay for any care fees and their other assets amounted to £700k (excluding the property) so they would still have been paying privately for any care even if they had put the property into a Trust. Also, the fact that they were 80-years-old would have meant a strong likelihood of deprivation of capital,” said Lucy.

In short, they did not need the Trust at all and their visit to Lucy saved them almost all of the money.

She added: “Unregulated advisers and companies will leaflet drop or hold events, targeting the more affluent areas or towns popular with older people. They advise people to set up trusts and often charge between three thousand and five thousand pounds when often, these are not needed.

“Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a legal adviser and write a Will or sell a Trust package, claiming they have expertise with no legal qualifications at all.”

Lucy’s final word of advice is: “Just take care when planning for your future. You may think you are saving money, but if the advice given by an unregulated advisor is incorrect, like in this case, you could find yourself even more out of pocket with no redress”.

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