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  • FIRST POST
    • happyhero
    • By happyhero 31st Mar 14, 1:16 PM
    • 1,147Posts
    • 54Thanks
    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 17
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 14th Oct 18, 7:59 PM
    • 96,058 Posts
    • 63,874 Thanks
    dunstonh
    And once again, we have another thread where regular posters warned about the issues in 2014 but MSE deleted or edited their posts and warned posters not to continue posting about those things. And once again, like other threads, the company is found wanting and consumers being potentially out of pocket.

    For a consumer site, MSE doesn't really like protecting consumers.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
    • jimjames
    • By jimjames 14th Oct 18, 8:08 PM
    • 12,860 Posts
    • 11,617 Thanks
    jimjames
    Quite shocking really that all the signs were there. All it takes are lawyers to intimidate the sites hosting any content that could alert people to the situation
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 14th Oct 18, 8:11 PM
    • 6,800 Posts
    • 19,688 Thanks
    Doc N
    And once again, we have another thread where regular posters warned about the issues in 2014 but MSE deleted or edited their posts and warned posters not to continue posting about those things. And once again, like other threads, the company is found wanting and consumers being potentially out of pocket.

    For a consumer site, MSE doesn't really like protecting consumers.
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    You do make a very good point there, for those of us who remember all too well what happened.

    If somebody from MSE had properly taken on board what was really going on and done something about it instead of just going along with muzzling those who were sounding alarm bells a lot of people might not have lost a lot of money.

    Not a good outcome for MSE, was it.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 15th Oct 18, 10:08 AM
    • 4,971 Posts
    • 8,032 Thanks
    Malthusian
    In fairness to MSE, even after all the "text removed by MSE Investigator" there was still more than enough information left on the thread to deter anyone who Googled the company name looking for a second opinion.

    The first two replies stated very clearly that the supposed care fee avoidance mechanism could be invalid and that professional advice should be taken, ColdIron pointed out in post #4 some distinctly dodgy text from Universal Wealth's own FAQ, post #7 pointed out that they are unregulated and there is no redress if it goes wrong...

    Anyone who read what was left and still handed over their assets to Univeral Wealth Trust was quite clearly determined to lose their money, and it would have made no difference if MSE had left whatever they deleted.

    If MSE really wanted to be responsible for people losing their money, they could have asked happyhero whether they wanted to provide their full name and address and potentially get sued by Universal Wealth, or have this entire thread deleted.
    • jimjames
    • By jimjames 15th Oct 18, 1:18 PM
    • 12,860 Posts
    • 11,617 Thanks
    jimjames
    I
    Over the years, I have been threatened by many companies via the site. MSE Investigator must think "not another one" when he sees my name. What is fairly consistent is that the companies that threaten tend to be the dodgy ones. The ones that have something to hide. Many of them have later gone on to be confirmed as scams or doing something dodgy or have gone under taking money with them. The genuine firms tend to say nothing or add clarification or information to show different.
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    I've had exactly the same over the years. Funnily enough I've never had solicitor letters for making comments over the service from British Gas, Npower or TSB. The only ones have been companies that have subsequently been found to have issues of one sort or another.
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
    • Glen Clark
    • By Glen Clark 15th Oct 18, 2:19 PM
    • 4,303 Posts
    • 3,322 Thanks
    Glen Clark
    In fairness to MSE, even after all the "text removed by MSE Investigator" there was still more than enough information left on the thread to deter anyone who Googled the company name looking for a second opinion.

    The first two replies stated very clearly that the supposed care fee avoidance mechanism could be invalid and that professional advice should be taken, ColdIron pointed out in post #4 some distinctly dodgy text from Universal Wealth's own FAQ, post #7 pointed out that they are unregulated and there is no redress if it goes wrong...

    Anyone who read what was left and still handed over their assets to Univeral Wealth Trust was quite clearly determined to lose their money, and it would have made no difference if MSE had left whatever they deleted.

    If MSE really wanted to be responsible for people losing their money, they could have asked happyhero whether they wanted to provide their full name and address and potentially get sued by Universal Wealth, or have this entire thread deleted.
    Originally posted by Malthusian
    Exactly.
    There were enough warnings left in place.
    Britains libel laws are such that Lord Archer cost the Daily Star over a million pounds (at a time when the average house price was £25K ) just for truthfully stating that Lord Archer gave money to a working girl. (I suspect that was the reason nobody dared print the truth about Sir Jimmy Savile OBE KCSG.)
    Why should we expect someone else to take that kind of risk on our behalf when it isn't necessary?
    Last edited by Glen Clark; 15-10-2018 at 2:25 PM.
    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” --Upton Sinclair
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 15th Oct 18, 2:20 PM
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    • 8,032 Thanks
    Malthusian
    The fault here still lies with the dodgy companies making legal threats rather than with MSE.

    UK defamation law is clear that if you run a website (like MSE) and you receive a legal threat over something that somebody else posted on your website, your responsibility is to contact the person who posted it and give them the opportunity to give their full name and address and take the flak. If they demur or can't be contacted, you either remove it or you are legally liable for it as if you posted it yourself.

    I wouldn't volunteer to be held legally responsible for something that dunstonh or jimjames or bail-in said about a dodgy unregulated scheme, even if I agreed with it, and I don't expect MSE to be legally responsible for something I've said either.

    If this Universal Wealth thread had been posted in 2018, I think MSE would have simply deleted the whole thing. As they have done over the past couple of years with threads on Asset Life plc, MJS Capital etc.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 15th Oct 18, 2:57 PM
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    Malthusian
    And just to head off a couple of points which people may be thinking:

    "But they wouldn't actually sue if it was true" - sure they would. Dodgy unregulated schemes have a bottomless pit of other people's money to bring frivolous lawsuits with to discourage adverse coverage.

    "But even if they did sue they'd never win" - sure they would. Google Privilege Wealth v David Marchant.

    The issue in that case is not that Privilege Wealth won - that was inevitable as Marchant turned down the fight. The issue is that a British judge went so far as to say that Privilege Wealth was "clearly not a fraud" when, after Privilege collapsed a year later, it took the liquidator all of a couple of months to prove that it probably was exactly that. For whatever reason, the British judiciary has a raging boner for dodgy people who bring SLAPP cases against individuals.

    Dodgy oligarchs and unregulated schemes pay their lawyers more than journalists and amateurs (often hiring QCs - bottomless pit of investors' money, remember), which in the eyes of a judge - remember that a judge is an ex-lawyer in a silly costume - makes them the good guys.
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 16th Oct 18, 2:48 PM
    • 6,800 Posts
    • 19,688 Thanks
    Doc N
    Originally posted by Twopints
    Thanks for the info Twopints - an interesting programme, and some old footage of the elusive Steve Long too.

    Here's an iPlayer link for anyone interested:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bnk6xq/inside-out-east-15102018
    • jimjames
    • By jimjames 16th Oct 18, 9:52 PM
    • 12,860 Posts
    • 11,617 Thanks
    jimjames
    Thanks for the info Twopints - an interesting programme, and some old footage of the elusive Steve Long too.

    Here's an iPlayer link for anyone interested:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bnk6xq/inside-out-east-15102018
    Originally posted by Doc N
    Cheers. I'm not sure about the advice at the end of it to speak to a lawyer though. Surely anyone should contact Suffolk police as a first port of call?
    Last edited by jimjames; 16-10-2018 at 9:55 PM.
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
    • Reaper
    • By Reaper 17th Oct 18, 8:45 AM
    • 6,340 Posts
    • 4,629 Thanks
    Reaper
    Britains libel laws are such that Lord Archer cost the Daily Star over a million pounds (at a time when the average house price was £25K ) just for truthfully stating that Lord Archer gave money to a working girl.
    Originally posted by Glen Clark
    I'm going off topic but that's not entirely correct. He succeeded because he had an alibi for the night the newspaper said he was seeing a prostitute, so the court finding in his favour was fair enough.
    Subsequently it turned out he had manufactured the alibi, paying people to lie for him for which he went to jail and was forced to repay the Daily Star.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 17th Oct 18, 9:56 AM
    • 4,971 Posts
    • 8,032 Thanks
    Malthusian
    I'm going off topic but that's not entirely correct. He succeeded because he had an alibi for the night the newspaper said he was seeing a prostitute, so the court finding in his favour was fair enough.
    He succeeded because in a his-word-against-hers case, the judge believed a crooked politician and his dodgy friend over a prostitute. The overriding point is that the Star printed something which was perfectly true, and they still had to pay record damages over it, thanks to a judge who couldn't have been more biased if he'd worn a "Justice For Jeffrey" badge on his robes.

    "Remember Mary Archer in the witness-box. Your vision of her probably will never disappear. Has she elegance? Has she fragrance? Would she have, without the strain of this trial, radiance? How would she appeal? Has she had a happy married life? Has she been able to enjoy, rather than endure, her husband Jeffrey?" This vomitous statement about Archer's wife is up there with "Privilege Wealth is clearly not a fraud" in the list of idiotic things said by judges, and should dispel the illusion that a judge is some kind of wise, impartial seeker of the truth rather than an ex-lawyer in a silly costume.

    It is best to assume that if you are sued for defamation in the UK by someone who is rich and powerful you are probably going to lose, regardless of whether it is true or not, unless you are more rich and powerful. (Dodgy unregulated investment schemes qualify as rich and powerful, due to their bottomless pit of other people's money.)

    Cheers. I'm not sure about the advice at the end of it to speak to a lawyer though. Surely anyone should contact Suffolk police as a first port of call?
    Originally posted by jimjames
    Suffolk police aren't going to be able to unwind whatever trust arrangements Universal Wealth has locked up your money in. That's a job for a regulated solicitor.
    • bank leper
    • By bank leper 5th Nov 18, 7:45 PM
    • 13 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    bank leper
    MoneySavingExpert.com Insert:

    DC Kett has asked us to add a note to this post giving the best contact number and email address for this enquiry: 01992 533 555 or email ardentenquiries@ersou.pnn.police.uk

    Back to the original post:



    Long shot ... but does anyone know the name of the conveyancing firm Universal Trustees LLP were using?

    ... and has everyone who is tied up in this mess seen this:
    You need to confirm your details with
    DC Graham Kett
    Regional Asset Recovery Team
    Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU)
    Eastern ROCU
    PO Box 725, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 9HZ
    {details removed}
    Twitter: @ersourocu
    Website: www.ersourocu.org.uk
    Last edited by MSE Andrea; 20-11-2018 at 12:15 PM.
    • affinite2
    • By affinite2 10th Nov 18, 10:42 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    affinite2
    Cohen Knight LLP
    Just an update from me in case its of value to others.

    My mother took out a Universal Wealth Preservation Trust in 2015.
    Unfortunately we were slow to spot the problems with the original Trust concept and of course with the company in question. Like others, our calls and emails to Universal went unanswered.

    Earlier this year we were contacted by Cohen Knight LLP who offered to undertake the legal work necessary to change the names of the Trustees from Universal Trustees to two nominated family members (myself and my brother) and to ensure that the appropriate changes to Land Registry records wrt the ownership of my mothers house were made.

    I was aware that the partners/directors at Cohen Knight are ex Universal employees and to be honest I thought at one stage that we may have thrown good money after bad by instructing them but I am now relieved to say that the transfer has now been completed, all original documents (Trust, Will, Power of Attorney) held by Universal group have been returned to us.

    Bye the way before someone suggests it, no, I have no connection with Universal Group or Cohen Knight.- just a relieved victim
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 10th Nov 18, 12:47 PM
    • 6,800 Posts
    • 19,688 Thanks
    Doc N
    Just an update from me in case its of value to others.

    My mother took out a Universal Wealth Preservation Trust in 2015.
    Unfortunately we were slow to spot the problems with the original Trust concept and of course with the company in question. Like others, our calls and emails to Universal went unanswered.

    Earlier this year we were contacted by Cohen Knight LLP who offered to undertake the legal work necessary to change the names of the Trustees from Universal Trustees to two nominated family members (myself and my brother) and to ensure that the appropriate changes to Land Registry records wrt the ownership of my mothers house were made.

    I was aware that the partners/directors at Cohen Knight are ex Universal employees and to be honest I thought at one stage that we may have thrown good money after bad by instructing them but I am now relieved to say that the transfer has now been completed, all original documents (Trust, Will, Power of Attorney) held by Universal group have been returned to us.

    Bye the way before someone suggests it, no, I have no connection with Universal Group or Cohen Knight.- just a relieved victim
    Originally posted by affinite2
    There was a similar post not so long ago from someone mentioning Cohen Knights in a positive way, though your post does look a little less suspicious than that one did.

    Are they not still completely unregulated, though? They're not solicitors, I believe, or members of any regulating body? They still seem to have virtually no track record, and given that they just seemed to appear when Universal disappeared - at the same address - I'd want a lot more reassurance than we currently have. And I'd not deal at all with an unregulated body.

    I'm sure they're fine people, whoever they are, but did you take any steps to satisfy yourself as to their trustworthiness? If so, what did you find?
    • affinite2
    • By affinite2 10th Nov 18, 2:07 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    affinite2
    Cohen Knight LLP
    Although we have had a good outcome, my post was not an endorsement of Cohen Knight.
    My intention was to offer encouragement to others that are still tied up with Universal that some of us at least have been able to extricate ourselves from Mr Longs tentacles. So there is hope!

    I think the points you make about using an unregulated practitioner are perfectly valid and we were perhaps naive (again) to have engaged a company who were obviously born out of the ashes of Universal. If you look at the Cohen Knight website, some of the (stock) images are identical to those used in the Universal marketing material !.

    Cohen Knights appear to be staffed by ex Universal employees and its interesting that they had access to the Universal client database (otherwise how did they know how to contact us) . Its also interesting that they had access to ,and were able to return, original documents held by Universal to us.
    • Glen Clark
    • By Glen Clark 10th Nov 18, 6:12 PM
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    • 3,322 Thanks
    Glen Clark
    I suppose it possible that ex UWP employees hold assets they can't do anything with, so are prepared to return them to their owners, but don't want to do so without another bite at the cherry - more fees.
    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” --Upton Sinclair
    • jimjames
    • By jimjames 10th Nov 18, 8:06 PM
    • 12,860 Posts
    • 11,617 Thanks
    jimjames
    I suppose it possible that ex UWP employees hold assets they can't do anything with, so are prepared to return them to their owners, but don't want to do so without another bite at the cherry - more fees.
    Originally posted by Glen Clark
    It's surprising and worrying from a Data protection viewpoint if private client files are being passed around between ex-employees and aren't stored securely or centrally anywhere. Might make it even harder for things to be tracked down.
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
    • Raymond Noy
    • By Raymond Noy 23rd Nov 18, 1:53 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Raymond Noy
    iht planning
    I also went to one of their local seminars a few years ago; I was convinced with what they said and the knowledge and sincerity of their staff. I parted with £5000 but after several months I had cold feet as I seemed to have lost control of a considerable amount of money and liable for fees at every turn of the process. I ask to withdraw and my money back. We agreed a severance fee of £1000 and the return of £4000.

    I advise any one in my positiion to do the same; for myself I will never approach any of these companies again, I have learned my lesson. Best Regards, Ray Noy
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 29th Nov 18, 3:02 PM
    • 6,800 Posts
    • 19,688 Thanks
    Doc N
    This might be of interest to anyone trying to remove the delightful Mr and Mrs Long from a family trust:


    http://trustsdiscussionforum.co.uk/t/universal-wealth-preservation/6942/3
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