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Wills & Trusts: The Perils and (Potential) Financial Disaster Of Unregulated Advice

Police Probe Universal Wealth Management, an Ipswich Wealth Management Firm.

The firm which described itself as an inheritance planning firm, ran numerous seminars with titles like “Keep It In The Family” where they made promises of keeping people’s assets safe/exempt from inheritance tax.

The same firm also promised to help people avoid care home fees.

Two arrests have been made in connection with the enquiry.

After attending a seminar, people were often advised to put their home into a trust run by the company, which meant they no longer officially owned it. The basic concept was that  local authorities would then (have to) disregard the property in the event someone needed long-term care.

Reports from the BBC says that earlier this year, clients started to complain that their emails and calls were going unanswered.

The BBC also reports:

In April, two people connected with the firm were arrested on suspicion of fraud. They have since been released but remain under active police investigation.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Two people who were arrested on suspicion of fraud as part of a large-scale financial investigation have had their police bail cancelled.

Both have now been released under investigation whilst inquiries are continuing.

The national body that deals with fraud on behalf of victims, Action Fraud, said at least 140 clients of Universal Wealth had contacted it about missing money.

Many victims of this scheme potentially stand to lose their home and their life savings.

Neelam Maher (head of our Wills and Trusts Team) comments:

A large number of our clients regularly get these sorts of invitations, along with all sorts of slick presentations, talking about things like “bloodline trusts”. The problem is that all too frequently they don’t know what they are signing up to, given that they (the advisors) tend to be unregulated and are not subject to the same stringent regulations as we are.

They also charge up to 4 times more than a regulated Solicitor would!

Our advice to anyone who receives this type of promotional marketing and material or sales pitch is to go and speak to their local Solicitor…who will be regulated and who may even offer a free initial meeting/consultation such as the we offer.

You should consider very carefully, who you take your advice from when it comes to Wills & Trusts. In brief:

  • In England and Wales the practice of making a Will is one that requires no qualification.
  • Anyone can set up as a “will writer” and start drafting Wills for someone.
  • Will writers do not need to be regulated.
  • Will writers do not have to be indemnified (insured).
  • Will writers have no requirement to keep up-to-date.

Will Writers – the perils of leaving Wills to chance.

Perhaps it’s time to refresh your memory…and then talk to experts in the field.

Neelam Maher


Neelam Maher


Neelam is a Partner in the Private Client team heading up our Kettering office.