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  • FIRST POST
    • happyhero
    • By happyhero 31st Mar 14, 1:16 PM
    • 1,076Posts
    • 52Thanks
    happyhero
    help please with Universal Wealth preservation Trust
    • #1
    • 31st Mar 14, 1:16 PM
    help please with Universal Wealth preservation Trust 31st Mar 14 at 1:16 PM
    Hi my mother is fretting over a scheme she has just paid for, one of those things where they tell you to take out a trust to protect yourself from inheritance tax so that that you can pass on more to your family rather than the tax man. She thought it was great at first but is now having doubts as to whether it is worth the money and does she really need it etc. I went to the first seminar with her and was with her for when they came round to arrange the trust she needed. She picked stage 2 and it came to 4000.

    Has anybody got any experience of these people or similar schemes?

    Once in the trust your property and savings/investments are protected from tax and any other attack basically.

    Both the seminar talker and the guy who came round have a bunch of qualifications in finance/investment and legal stuff, the seminar talker was a non practicing solicitor, i.e he used to be a solicitor before he did this.

    I like to think I am not easily swayed or taken in and both guys seemed nice genuine people plus I felt what they said made sense. I understood it all but my mother was worried that she did not. She feels all control will be taken away as they put the house and everything in trust whereas the way they do it is protect it in the trust and my mother becomes the boss for want of a better word and makes the decisions as to what will happen with everything, i..e who inherits what etc. Plus this way the property cannot be taken for things like care fees.

    I thought it was a good thing but my mother is now thinking of backing out and I must admit if she keeps being against it it does start to make me have doubts even though I was sure about it up till now.

    Can anybody tell me what they think or what would be brilliant if somebody has had this for a while and what their experience and thoughts of it are?
Page 2
    • Reaper
    • By Reaper 8th Feb 17, 4:49 PM
    • 6,041 Posts
    • 4,074 Thanks
    Reaper
    Steven Long is apparently out of the country and no one will respond to her the money is awol.
    Originally posted by fergies_army
    Back in 2011 the BBC was suspicious of the scheme, and mentions:
    When the BBC tried to contact Mr Long to put the allegations to him it was told he was out of the country.
    He was in fact giving seminars in Southampton and Gloucester.
    So I would take that claim with a pinch of salt. Maybe you should turn up to one of their seminars and ask awkward questions.
    • fergies_army
    • By fergies_army 8th Feb 17, 5:23 PM
    • 102 Posts
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    fergies_army
    {Text removed by MSE Forum Team}

    Its unlikely the police would be interested, long and short is that the property had been placed into their name as a trustee, they havnt stolen it in the definition of the theft act (however morally they have)they clearly havnt acted in the interest of the beneficiary which would be a breach of the trust act 2000 which isn't a police matter.

    Don't worry I will be travelling the country to every seminar!!!
    Last edited by MSE Investigator; 16-03-2017 at 9:49 AM.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 9th Feb 17, 4:05 PM
    • 2,000 Posts
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    Malthusian
    @fergies_army: It seems clear that your mother has gifted the house to a trust. But you said "she had to sell" the property. If she gifted the house to a trust the house was no longer hers to sell. Who actually signed the paperwork selling the house to the new owners?

    Proving fraud would be difficult. That's not to say that there is no fraud, or even that it's not obvious there is a fraud, but it is always difficult to prove. The Trustee Act route may be more useful as it allows trustees to be removed if they are unfit - but you said she is taking legal advice and her solicitors will be able to advise her on that.

    Let us know how you get on at the seminars, I understand the next one is in Shrewsbury on Valentine's Day.
    • fergies_army
    • By fergies_army 9th Feb 17, 4:14 PM
    • 102 Posts
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    fergies_army
    Thanks Malthusian ..... I agree with you hence why it hasn't been reported to the Police as others have suggested above for the reasons you outline.
    • shortcroft
    • By shortcroft 18th Feb 17, 2:19 AM
    • 5 Posts
    • 10 Thanks
    shortcroft
    Update
    I posted as Athenaia2016:

    I applied to the Trustees (Melanie and Steve Long) to have my parent's Trusts wound up several months ago and have been given the run around by them. Last month I was advised in writing that Steven Long was seriously ill. However I have also been advised by another Trust beneficiary in a similar situation that he is in another country.

    The advice from the person advising you to review the Deeds and other Trust documentation is correct. My parent's Trusts are Asset Trusts which if wound up the assets will transfer to a Discretionary Trust.

    The setting up of Trust is a restricted activity and should only be set up by lawyers however there appears to be little enforcement of this by the Law Society and STEP appear to mainly a training organisation rather than regulatory. The FCA are also unable to help. I got to Xmas with the sense of absolute helplessness. My parent's intention in placing their lifetime home in a Trust was "to protect it and keep it in the family for their children & grandchildren". That is not the outcome. Not only are the Trustees failing to protect the asset as they are required i.e. Maintenance, charges etc (they have been formally advised of this) but they are not acting professionally in their dealings.
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 18th Feb 17, 8:01 AM
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    Doc N
    That's a dreadful situation, shortcroft - and not an easy one to resolve.

    There's no simple way of challenging the activities of trustees, and you'd almost certainly need legal assistance to do it. That would very likely be expensive (we're talking senior legal staff here at upwards of 200 per hour) with no certainty whatever of success, or getting costs back.

    I think in this situation I'd be trying to get Watchdog, You and Yours, or Moneybox (BBC TV and Radio 4) involved. They could be interested in a story, if enough people are involved, and quite often in situations like this they can achieve positive outcomes for the originators of the story simply by the publicity involved.
    • le loup
    • By le loup 18th Feb 17, 11:22 AM
    • 3,497 Posts
    • 3,273 Thanks
    le loup
    Is there a household insurance policy that may cover legal costs?
    • shortcroft
    • By shortcroft 18th Feb 17, 5:07 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 10 Thanks
    shortcroft
    Legal Costs
    After an hours discussion with a litigation lawyer at 300 + VAT it became apparent that to pursue them through the courts is not an option at an estimate of 30-70k and no guarantee of success. It is also moot whether the costs could be offset against the estate that falls outside of the Trusts otherwise this is a cost that would need to be personally bourne. This was also confirmed by a friend who was a Trust lawyer.

    I will be writing to Paul Lewis of BBC Moneybox as well as a QC that was asked to review the miss selling of Trusts in 2014. With the latter I have been unable to locate any information on the outcome of the review.

    For the want of 200-300 worth of advice from a Trust lawyer a decision to go to an unregulated organisation to place your family home under the control of others is bluntly very foolish. I understand how they persuade people with fear but always step back before you sign anything and get independent, professional advice. It is your right. And if you are feeling pressured (one lady told me that after several hours and being told it was a "no brainer") by them even more so as no decent organisation will use those tactics. The cost otherwise is considerable.
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 18th Feb 17, 5:19 PM
    • 6,084 Posts
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    Doc N
    Paul Lewis is an excellent starting point - it's a subject he's well aware of and it could provide the seed for a major story. That could be helpful to you.

    I have attended one of their seminars (curiosity, really, after seeing one of these threads) and I can understand how people could be taken in. It all sounds very plausible, and a lot of what they say is legally correct and based on sound principles. There was nothing challengeable (or I would have challenged it) and nothing particularly controversial.

    All pretty much standard IHT/Nursing Home avoidance tactics, much of which would probably achieve the desired end if done at the right time.

    There was no suggestion, though, that they would be using their own people as trustees. The assumption I made, perhaps wrongly, was that trusted family members would be the trustees.

    {Text removed by MSE Investigator}
    Last edited by MSE Investigator; 16-03-2017 at 9:47 AM.
    • townngown
    • By townngown 4th Mar 17, 12:15 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    townngown
    trust possible solution
    Most of the comments about the fact that the assets are the trustees' are correct, so calling in the police when a trustee can say he is fulfilling his legal duties is not going to be a quick solution. However, most trust deeds allow the person who set the trust up or the beneficiaries to replace the trustees. If this is so, your mum should ask the current trustees to resign, appoint new trustees - this can be your mum and yourself if you wish - and ask the previous trustee to transfer the trust assets to the new trustee. This can be done at a reasonable cost with a solicitor who understands trust law. The assets then don't belong to the old trustees but to the new. If the transfer of assets to the new trustees doesn't happen - then I think that you have more of a reason to involve the authorities
    • jimjames
    • By jimjames 13th Mar 17, 1:06 PM
    • 11,784 Posts
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    jimjames
    Has anyone received contact about this thread? It appears that even if the people behind it are out of the country and supposedly uncontactable that they are still able to get in touch by email.
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
    • ColdIron
    • By ColdIron 13th Mar 17, 1:16 PM
    • 3,141 Posts
    • 3,557 Thanks
    ColdIron
    Might have
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 13th Mar 17, 2:04 PM
    • 2,000 Posts
    • 2,862 Thanks
    Malthusian
    I posted as Athenaia2016:

    I applied to the Trustees (Melanie and Steve Long) to have my parent's Trusts wound up several months ago and have been given the run around by them. Last month I was advised in writing that Steven Long was seriously ill. However I have also been advised by another Trust beneficiary in a similar situation that he is in another country.
    Originally posted by shortcroft
    Having read Reaper's link to a BBC article at post #24, I think both explanations are equally plausible.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 13th Mar 17, 2:29 PM
    • 87,709 Posts
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    dunstonh
    All pretty much standard IHT/Nursing Home avoidance tactics, much of which would probably achieve the desired end if done at the right time.
    The trust/product cannot be put in place with the purpose of being outside of the means test for local authority care. It has to be a coincidence. i.e. Absolutely fine that it is done for an IHT need. And if that happens to make it exempt from the means test as well then that is just luck rather than planning. If it is planned on the basis of the means test then it is wrong and would be deprivation of assets and potentially benefit fraud.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from a Financial Adviser local to you.
    • fergies_army
    • By fergies_army 13th Mar 17, 2:43 PM
    • 102 Posts
    • 64 Thanks
    fergies_army
    Interesting that a number of posters to this thread have been contacted by MSE after universal wealth have been in touch. I wonder if the fact this thread comes up first on google before their own website has something to do with that!!
    • Reaper
    • By Reaper 13th Mar 17, 2:50 PM
    • 6,041 Posts
    • 4,074 Thanks
    Reaper
    Apparently I am not allowed to say whether I have been contacted.
    • fergies_army
    • By fergies_army 13th Mar 17, 3:14 PM
    • 102 Posts
    • 64 Thanks
    fergies_army
    Well I guess now is a good time to provide an update on my mothers dealings with Universal Wealth.

    After the sale of her house as previously posted they didn't release the funds to her. After my posts on here and her employing a solicitor and barrister (at great cost) suddenly they started to send money to her account!

    Eventually all her money was returned to her. She never got a real explanation why it took 3 months and a barrister to contact them for it to be released (I have my suspicions why).

    She is now left with a large legal bill but at least no longer penniless or homeless !!
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 13th Mar 17, 3:21 PM
    • 87,709 Posts
    • 52,948 Thanks
    dunstonh
    I just realised that I have also been told that I cannot say that I have been contacted either.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from a Financial Adviser local to you.
    • fergies_army
    • By fergies_army 13th Mar 17, 3:23 PM
    • 102 Posts
    • 64 Thanks
    fergies_army
    There is not going to be many people left on MSE forums that Universal Wealth haven't complained about soon!!!
    • cloud_dog
    • By cloud_dog 13th Mar 17, 3:39 PM
    • 2,986 Posts
    • 1,590 Thanks
    cloud_dog
    So, if I understand correctly... The OP had posted their situation on here regarding Universal Wealth looking for other's comments and during this entire time had struggled to get any sort of meaningful communication from Universal Wealth and yet as some people offered their opinions and pointed to links highlighting that this possibly wasn't a good scheme to belong to Universal Wealth managed to communicate very effectively and efficiently with virtually every poster (possibly) but were unable to liaise with the OP until they incurred significant cost in employing a solicitor and a barrister in order to resolve the original issue with Universal Wealth.

    This doesn't really put Universal Wealth in a very good light from a customer service perspective. If this type of 'plan' / 'scheme' was something I was considering then I don't believe Universal Wealth would be an organisation I would consider worthy of engaging with.
    Last edited by cloud_dog; 13-03-2017 at 3:43 PM.
    Personal Responsibility - Sad but True

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