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    • happyhero
    • By happyhero 31st Mar 14, 1:16 PM
    • 1,108Posts
    • 54Thanks
    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?
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    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 24th Oct 17, 8:41 PM
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    Doc N
    Now that is interesting, it it's accurate.
    • UniversalVictim
    • By UniversalVictim 31st Oct 17, 7:12 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    I have some more information about this company/firm and, unfortunately, it's not good news.

    Like many others, I have been unable to contact Universal by phone and, given the recent posting on this forum suggesting that the company had gone bust, I travelled to Ipswich to try to find out what had happened.

    When I arrived, the metal gates to the premises were locked closed and there was a notice attached which read:

    'If you need to contact Universal, please either call us on 01473 808080 and leave a message or send us an email at enquiries [at] universalgroup [dot] co [dot] uk (amended by me)

    The site looked rather deserted although there were four cars parked at the far end. While I was there, another car pulled up and the couple advised that they were similarly affected. Then another man came and advised that he ran the business next door and had heard that a number of staff had been laid off, the reason given that Steven Long had suffered a bereavement. He added that the gates were locked all day and only opened at the start of the day when the people arrived and in the evening when they left.

    This is obviously not good news and puts a serious doubt on anyone who is the beneficiary of trusts under the control of Universal seeing their money in the short term, if at all. What is not clear is whether there has been any criminal activity within the business, in particular by creaming off assets held in trust. The big problem is that the activities of Universal appear to be largely unregulated and whilst Long is a member of STEP, STEP is a trade organisation rather than a regulator with any real powers. What is also not clear is whether Universal has, in fact, gone bust. My suspicion is that they haven't and are just trying to lie low.

    I spoke to a lady from STEP this morning who was 'aware' of Universal but not of the rumours surrounding possible insolvency. She has taken up the case and has requested any information about the organisation. I do not have her permission to give her details on this forum but if you phone STEP on 020 3752 3700, go through the automated answer menu to get to the switchboard and ask to speak to someone about Universal, you should get through to the right person.

    I am not a lawyer so I can't give any advice other than to suggest the following:

    1. If you haven't already done so, refer to a solicitor
    2. Report Universal to Suffolk Trading Standards. The more people that complain, the more likely they are to act. However, referrals to TS need to be done via Citizens Advice - google 'Ipswich Trading Standards' for the process.
    3. If you suspect that any criminal activity has taken place, report it to Action Fraud
    Last edited by UniversalVictim; 01-11-2017 at 2:24 PM.
    • UniversalVictim
    • By UniversalVictim 1st Nov 17, 6:09 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    Further to my post yesterday, I have now heard from someone who has managed to speak to a member of the Universal team on the number supplied. They were advised that the company is functioning normally. albeit with reduced staff. Their advice is to phone 01473 808080 and leave a voicemail - someone should call you back within 24-48 hours. They also state that due to the reduced staffing, they will only see people with appointments at their premises.

    I will be proceeding on this basis and sincerely hope that this will bring resolution without the need to escalate to either Trading Standards or Action Fraud. However, I remain of the view that the situation is precarious and engaging a soliticor is a sensible precaution.
    • Eltel58
    • By Eltel58 1st Nov 17, 9:25 PM
    • 1 Posts
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    Not helpful
    I read your comment Doc n but it's not needed or helpful. People who are still dealing with Universal are most likely at their wits end and worried sick as to what has happened to their money/trusts. If you could please only post helpful advise at this time, we can laugh and joke when we get to the bottom of this shady company
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 1st Nov 17, 10:49 PM
    • 6,460 Posts
    • 19,347 Thanks
    Doc N
    I read your comment Doc n but it's not needed or helpful. People who are still dealing with Universal are most likely at their wits end and worried sick as to what has happened to their money/trusts. If you could please only post helpful advise at this time, we can laugh and joke when we get to the bottom of this shady company
    Originally posted by Eltel58
    Couldn't agree with you more.

    Still scratching my head, though, as to why you thought it was even remotely connected with laughing and joking. I said the previous post was interesting if it was accurate, and if you were aware of the history of this thread, and the background, you'd understand the significance of the words in italics.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 2nd Nov 17, 9:36 AM
    • 3,571 Posts
    • 5,502 Thanks
    I am sure none of us doubt that Southfolk was told that the company had ceased trading and the liquidators were in, and believes what they were told in good faith. The question is whether the liquidators are actually in, or whether this is delaying tactics, in the hope the investors leave off for a few weeks while the people behind the company continue doing what they are doing.

    There is no sign of any Universal Wealth companies on the London Gazette's latest insolvency notices, nor is there anything about liquidation on the Companies House page for Universal Trustees LLP.
    Last edited by Malthusian; 02-11-2017 at 9:39 AM. Reason: better source for insolvencies
    • Eltel11
    • By Eltel11 3rd Nov 17, 2:24 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Universal are still insisting its business as usual but,

    'As an interim measure, STEP suspended Mr Long's membership earlier this week on a without prejudice basis until we are able to establish the facts of the current situation'.

    Probably doc n, gallows humour?
    • don't get mad get even
    • By don't get mad get even 14th Nov 17, 10:57 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    don't get mad get even
    Any news?
    I have been trying, with no success, to get an update from Universal about the progress with resolving my late father's estate and am somewhat devastated but not surprised to see the latest updates here.
    I have spoken with STEP this morning but they have no more news and ominously suggested that I might want to contact Action Fraud and also take independent legal advice....

    Has anyone any firm news/ or received credible responses from Universal in the last ten days or so?
    • W88NEE
    • By W88NEE 18th Dec 17, 2:12 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Any Updates?

    Our family have read the thread and we are in a similar situation where we can not get in contact with Universal Wealth or Steve Long. Emails, letters and voicemail's are being left with them, but no response after a couple of weeks.

    For clarity we have checked companies house and they are registered as trading as at 18th December 2017, companies house also list they are currently not being wound up or dissolved.

    It would be great to get a response from others on here to see what people are doing to remedy the situation. We are currently taking legal advice, but are keen to see what other action you are all taking?
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