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  • FIRST POST
    • happyhero
    • By happyhero 31st Mar 14, 1:16 PM
    • 1,133Posts
    • 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 8
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 24th Oct 17, 8:41 PM
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    • 19,494 Thanks
    Doc N
    Now that is interesting, it it's accurate.
    • UniversalVictim
    • By UniversalVictim 31st Oct 17, 7:12 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    UniversalVictim
    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
    UniversalVictim
    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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    Eltel58
    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
    • 6,626 Posts
    • 19,494 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
    • 3,935 Posts
    • 6,140 Thanks
    Malthusian
    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
    Eltel11
    Universal
    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
    • 4 Posts
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    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
    W88NEE
    Any Updates?
    Hello,

    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?
    • Reb55
    • By Reb55 23rd Jan 18, 1:12 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Reb55
    Information on Universal
    I also went to the seminars had some dealings with this company but got cold feet and decided not to proceed. Went to see a solicitor and he didn't recommend using this method of Trust. I have been digging around and found this today.

    Companies Court Winding Up List

    Cause list Wednesday, 17 January 2018

    Updated: 17 January 2018 08.30 (refresh your browser for the latest version)
    The following list is subject to change until 4.30pm. Any alterations after this time will be telephoned or emailed direct to the parties or their legal representatives.

    Help for Litigants in Person
    The Company Insolvency Scheme (CO.IN) provides free, one-off advice and representation for Litigants-in-Person in the Winding Up Court (High Court, Rolls Building).
    The Scheme runs every Wednesday from 10am during the Court’s term time. A volunteer Barrister from the Chancery or Commercial Bar can be found in Consultation Room 17 on the 2nd floor. The scheme is administered by City Law School Students. Please drop by if you need assistance.




    IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE – INSOLVENCY AND COMPANIES LIST
    ROLLS BUILDING
    COURT 16
    2nd FLOOR

    REGISTRAR BARBER

    Wednesday 17 January 2018

    Robed




    Not before 11:00am

    CR-2017-008318 UNIVERSAL ASSET PROTECTION LTD

    Sorry its not better news. Good luck to all of you who have been having problems.
    • ANGUSM3C
    • By ANGUSM3C 10th Feb 18, 7:07 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    ANGUSM3C
    Universal robbers
    Hi


    Did you ever get this resolved with Universal
    I have a very serious situation regarding a large sum of money which Steven Long is refusing to pay back.
    It would be very helpful to know.


    Thanks


    Angus Mac
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 10th Feb 18, 7:19 PM
    • 6,626 Posts
    • 19,494 Thanks
    Doc N
    Hi


    Did you ever get this resolved with Universal
    I have a very serious situation regarding a large sum of money which Steven Long is refusing to pay back.
    It would be very helpful to know.


    Thanks


    Angus Mac
    Originally posted by ANGUSM3C
    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05929392/filing-history

    Universal Asset Protection Ltd (see post 150 above): Striking Off action discontinued
    • andrewcr
    • By andrewcr 12th Feb 18, 12:57 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    andrewcr
    Still having problems contacting the company both bt e-mail and telephone
    • Rhyan
    • By Rhyan 15th Feb 18, 5:16 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Rhyan
    I'm only joining this thread as my family are having major issues with this company also. We were in the final stages of them gathering the remainder of the funds from my late father-in-law estate to distribute to us at the end of 2017. Since then we've not been able to get in contact with them at all, either by phone or by email.

    We've had the auto-reply email, and we did have one email from a Christina Sinclair "PA to Steven Long", apparently, which was basically a holding email. But nothing since then.

    We've now engaged solicitors, who have sent out a warning letter. If we don't get the funds by next Tuesday, we start exploring court options.

    From the moment I realised my father-in-law had put his property in one of their trusts and had had his will re-written to nominate Steven Long as an executor, I had a bad feeling about this company. Now my fears are coming true. We've had the grant of probate since November 2016, and it took them over a year to get on with requesting the funds from the various companies who needed probate. And now they disappear on us!

    I don't know what else we can do, to be honest.
    • ANGUSM3C
    • By ANGUSM3C 15th Feb 18, 6:04 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    ANGUSM3C
    Universal Victims
    I think anyone with serious concerns about this company should try to get together and go for a Class Action. The situation is becoming extremely serious with potential financial loss to many Universal Clients. The Serious Fraud Office would be interested in hearing from any concerned victims.
    • BewareUniversal
    • By BewareUniversal 16th Feb 18, 12:06 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    BewareUniversal
    Don't Trust Universal
    Based on my 80 year old father's experience, this recommends other potential customers not trust Universal Trustees. They also trade as Universal Asset Protection, Universal Group and, according to other consumer reviews, potentially up to 14 other companies. All trade from Dencora House, 34 White House Rd, Ipswich IP1 5LT. They have initial hefty fees with an annual service charge promising ongoing support. They appear to be very professional and operate via recruitment presentations with follow-up home sales visits.

    They hide behind anonymity, never answer the phone - indeed have a permanent answerphone message requesting customers email them for help, are slow to email back other than via automated response, and fail to call back despite multiple emails and answerphone messages. They finally admitted via anonymous email to operating without the appropriate legal, tax and financial staff in place to support customers. They also operate without a regulator's oversight which should make future customers very wary.

    They promise expert advice on legal matters and a letter from their in house solicitor if/when necessary to the local authority should any challenge be made against a Trust's validity. In my father's case he set up a Trust for inheritance planning purposes. Much later he fell ill requiring expert nursing care. To date he has paid over £80K in care home fees. Now, when he needs support, the Local Authority is wrongly claiming a deliberate deprivation of assets and are refusing to contribute to care costs.

    Universal are refusing the advice and help promised in their leaflets and my father's contract, in part quote "This means at this time, Universal are unable to assist you further in relation to your local authority enquiries as we do not have the required team members with the necessary skills to provide you with the appropriate advice."
    They formerly employed an in-house solicitor but do so no longer, yet continue to provide Trust advice to new customers. Meanwhile my father is fearful of losing the house he hopes to return to as he has a positive prognosis and is thankfully making great progress in beating his illness.

    Should you be looking for inheritance advice and be considering establishing a Trust to ensure your wishes are fulfilled, I recommend you consult with a reputable solicitor or accountant as a first step and use professionals who operate within a regulator's framework, eg the FSA, and are based locally.

    Should you unfortunately feel you are in a position of having been mis-sold, or exploited, or indeed are now worried about your Trust's management and assets, I agree with the advice in other consumer reviews to report Universal to both Suffolk Trading Standards via your local Citizens Advice and Universal's industry association STEP on 020 3752 3700, although they do not have the teeth of a regulator. Importantly, you should contact your solicitor and ensure your assets are protected and placed under the control of regulated Trustees, either them or those they recommend locally. Good luck.

    Additionally, if you write one "review" like this, you can then quickly post it to the many consumer review sites that you will find when you ask Google in order to hopefully protect other vulnerable, elderly consumers.
    • BewareUniversal
    • By BewareUniversal 16th Feb 18, 12:16 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    BewareUniversal
    Don't Trust Universal
    Based on my 80 year old father's experience, this recommends other potential customers not trust Universal Trustees. They also trade as Universal Asset Protection, Universal Group and, according to other consumer reviews, potentially up to 14 other companies. All trade from Dencora House, 34 White House Rd, Ipswich IP1 5LT. They have initial hefty fees with an annual service charge promising ongoing support. They appear to be very professional and operate via recruitment presentations with follow-up home sales visits.

    They hide behind anonymity, never answer the phone - indeed have a permanent answerphone message requesting customers email them for help, are slow to email back other than via automated response, and fail to call back despite multiple emails and answerphone messages. They finally admitted via anonymous email to operating without the appropriate legal, tax and financial staff in place to support customers. They also operate without a regulator's oversight which should make future customers very wary.

    They promise expert advice on legal matters and a letter from their in house solicitor if/when necessary to the local authority should any challenge be made against a Trust's validity. In my father's case he set up a Trust for inheritance planning purposes. Much later he fell ill requiring expert nursing care. To date he has paid over £80K in care home fees. Now, when he needs support, the Local Authority is wrongly claiming a deliberate deprivation of assets and are refusing to contribute to care costs.

    Universal are refusing the advice and help promised in their leaflets and my father's contract, in part quote "This means at this time, Universal are unable to assist you further in relation to your local authority enquiries as we do not have the required team members with the necessary skills to provide you with the appropriate advice."
    They formerly employed an in-house solicitor but do so no longer, yet continue to provide Trust advice to new customers. Meanwhile my father is fearful of losing the house he hopes to return to as he has a positive prognosis and is thankfully making great progress in beating his illness.

    Should you be looking for inheritance advice and be considering establishing a Trust to ensure your wishes are fulfilled, I recommend you consult with a reputable solicitor or accountant as a first step and use professionals who operate within a regulator's framework, eg the FSA, and are based locally.

    Should you unfortunately feel you are in a position of having been mis-sold, or exploited, or indeed are now worried about your Trust's management and assets, I agree with the advice in other consumer reviews to report Universal to both Suffolk Trading Standards via your local Citizens Advice and Universal's industry association STEP on 020 3752 3700, although they do not have the teeth of a regulator. Importantly, you should contact your solicitor and ensure your assets are protected and placed under the control of regulated Trustees, either them or those they recommend locally. Good luck.

    Additionally, if you write one "review" like this, you can then quickly post it to the many consumer review sites that you will find when you ask Google in order to hopefully protect other vulnerable, elderly consumers.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 16th Feb 18, 11:26 AM
    • 3,935 Posts
    • 6,140 Thanks
    Malthusian
    Now, when he needs support, the Local Authority is wrongly claiming a deliberate deprivation of assets and are refusing to contribute to care costs.
    Originally posted by BewareUniversal
    If he set up this arrangement with a firm that promised to "protect your home and savings from care fees, the taxman and many other threats" [my emphasis] then I struggle to see how the Local Authority is wrong.

    You and your father have my sympathy if you have lost money as a result of Universal Wealth's actions, but not over having to pay care fees that he has the money to pay.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 16th Feb 18, 11:44 AM
    • 92,222 Posts
    • 59,404 Thanks
    dunstonh
    The key to the deprivation of assets not being an issue is that the solution used has to have been put in place for a valid reason that has nothing to do with means tests. i.e. it has to be a coincidence that it is exempt from the means test and not put in place to make it exempt.

    i.e. solution was recommended on the basis of tax efficiency then you have a valid reason.

    If there is no valid reason, or worse, it is actually done on purpose to avoid means test inclusion then it is quite rightly taken into account under deprivation of assets. Advisers are warned never to mention or even give hint that means test avoiding is a reason or a by-product. One hint of that and the local authority can include it.

    The advert shown in the link above by Malthusian is more than a hint. It is downright blatant.
    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.
    • Rhyan
    • By Rhyan 16th Feb 18, 4:29 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Rhyan
    Has anyone had any kind of response out of any of the companies beyond the auto-response email? The last contact I had was from Christina Sinclair, which was basically a holding email, but that was 16th January.

    Has anyone had more recent contact?

    I've been trying to track down contact details for Steven Long, but to no avail. Despite being director for 15 companies, he's hidden his tracks well! Although I note that he is the director of a seemingly completely unrelated company: "Tim Long Cleaning Limited", which sounds like it's a family member's business.

    I can't tell if that is also related to a company called TLCwindowCleaning, which, on its website, has their cars/vans lined up outside a building that also has one the "Universal" logos in the window. Curiouser and curiouser.
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