11 July 2019

Beware of unregulated advisers

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

A warning has been issued to beware of ‘professionals’ who are once again visiting rural market towns with promises that they can protect families’ financial pots from future care home fees.

Leaflets have been circulated across the Lincolnshire region over the last few weeks tempting people to find out more about moving assets into Trusts which, it is claimed, will ringfence their assets, including money tied up in property, in the future should they need care. The same organisations may also offer a Will-writing service.

But specialist lawyers have repeated their warnings from just 12 months ago, when the same events were being held by ‘unregulated advisers’.

Lucy Butterfint, a senior solicitor with Wilkin Chapman’s estates, tax and trusts department at Horncastle, said 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 in 2018.

“A 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.

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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