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  • Hazel Jones

When Care Planning Goes Wrong


If you listened to Radio 4’s Money Box programme on 5 May, you will have heard a shocking story about how a couple may have lost their life savings to an unregulated firm, Universal Wealth Preservation of Ipswich.

Surprising as it may seem, anyone can set themselves up as an estate planner or will-writer. No qualifications, insurance or membership of a professional or regulatory body are required. This is the case with Universal.

Mr and Mrs X attended a seminar run by Universal in 2013 and on the advice of Universal’s Steve Long, signed Wills and set up a lifetime trust in order to protect assets from potential care fees. The assets of the trust were their home. In 2016, they added £250K cash. The trustees were officers of Universal.

Last year, Mrs X wished to access some funds from the trust and were told she could do so. However, she has been unable to contact anyone from Universal, despite numerous attempts. Sensibly, Mr and Mrs X have replaced the original trustees of their house but are understandably seriously worried about the possibility that they have lost their life savings.

Because Universal is unregulated, there is no regulator deal with Mr and Mrs X’s complaint and possibly no way of Mr and Mrs X recovering the trust assets. One of the umbrella companies, under which Universal operates, has been wound up and seven former employees are taking Universal to an Employment Tribunal for unpaid wages. Finally, there have been two arrests of individuals in Ipswich on suspicion of fraud.

How Garden House Solicitors Can Help

There are legitimate ways of ring-fencing assets from potential care home fees but in order to protect yourself, advice should always be obtained from a properly qualified, regulated, professional with mandatory insurance.

Hazel Jones of Garden House Solicitors in Hertford is an experienced Solicitor and also a Member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE). As a Solicitor, she and Garden House Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Legal Ombudsman and are insured.

Please feel free to contact Hazel at hazel@ghsolicitors.co.uk or call 01992 422128.

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