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  • FIRST POST
    • happyhero
    • By happyhero 31st Mar 14, 1:16 PM
    • 1,145Posts
    • 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 9
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 16th Feb 18, 5:02 PM
    • 6,693 Posts
    • 19,570 Thanks
    Doc N
    Our Steven Long still seems to be active in setting up new companies:

    SPLICE MANAGEMENT CONSULTING LTD (incorporated December 2016, with Long coming on the scene in August 2017)

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10537847

    Melanie Long (wife?*) is connected with Long's companies


    LONG, Steven Peter

    Correspondence address
    Units 4 & 5 Brightwell Barns, Waldringfield Road, Brightwell, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, IP10 0BJ
    Role ACTIVE
    Director
    Date of birth November 1966
    Appointed on 12 August 2010
    Nationality English
    Country of residence England
    Occupation Lawyer


    LONG, Melanie
    Correspondence address
    Oakwood Manor, East Harling, United Kingdom
    Role RESIGNED
    Secretary
    Appointed on 12 August 2010
    Resigned on 10 October 2014


    https://www.zoopla.co.uk/property-history/oakwood-manor/west-harling-road/east-harling/norwich/nr16-2sq/30050232

    I wonder if this is where he lives/lived?


    *"However when they came to sign the docs, Mr Steven Peter Long of
    Inheritance Advice UK ltd. and his wife, Melanie Sexton, have been
    added in as additional trustees."
    Last edited by Doc N; 16-02-2018 at 5:10 PM.
    • ANGUSM3C
    • By ANGUSM3C 28th Feb 18, 8:13 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    ANGUSM3C
    I am in a very similar position to you, a year on. I would be very interested to know if you did receive the money due.
    • Deb1million
    • By Deb1million 5th Mar 18, 9:00 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 11 Thanks
    Deb1million
    More shady dealings of Steven Long?
    DocN, I’m enraged that Steve Long is allowed to continue setting up more businesses to continue ripping more people off, after letting us existing customers struggle on with all the grief and stress.
    What alarms me most about the latest finding from Companies House about this listing for Splice Management, is that he lists his occupation as LAWYER! As far as my dealings with him in the last five years, he has always been an Estate Planner.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 5th Mar 18, 9:37 AM
    • 4,255 Posts
    • 6,702 Thanks
    Malthusian
    DocN, I’m enraged that Steve Long is allowed to continue setting up more businesses to continue ripping more people off, after letting us existing customers struggle on with all the grief and stress.
    Originally posted by Deb1million
    Who do you think should have stopped him?

    You can be banned from acting as a director for various reasons including (quoting gov.uk):
    • allowing a company to continue trading when it can’t pay its debts
    • not keeping proper company accounting records
    • not sending accounts and returns to Companies House
    • not paying tax owed by the company
    • using company money or assets for personal benefit
    Do you believe that Steven Long is guilty of any of these and if so, what action have you taken?

    Being the subject of anonymous complaints on an Internet forum is not grounds to be banned as a director.

    People seem to constantly talk about consulting solicitors in this thread and yet, unless there is some legal action in progress not visible to Google, none of them follow it through.

    I don't expect people to come on here after meeting their solicitor and tell us everything that's going on - when you're involved in legal action it's best to say as little in public as possible - and yet if there is legal action in progress it should be partly a matter of public record.
    • Reaper
    • By Reaper 5th Mar 18, 10:23 AM
    • 6,267 Posts
    • 4,516 Thanks
    Reaper

    What alarms me most about the latest finding from Companies House about this listing for Splice Management, is that he lists his occupation as LAWYER!
    Originally posted by Deb1million
    If you believe somebody is claiming to be a lawyer when they are not then you can report them here:
    www.sra.org.uk/bogus-solicitors
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 5th Mar 18, 11:56 AM
    • 6,693 Posts
    • 19,570 Thanks
    Doc N
    If you believe somebody is claiming to be a lawyer when they are not then you can report them here:
    www.sra.org.uk/bogus-solicitors
    Originally posted by Reaper
    The word ‘lawyer’ is sufficiently vague to avoid any suggestion of misdescription. The words ‘solicitor’ and ‘barrister’ are tightly controlled and enforced by the relevant professional bodies, but ‘lawyer’ is generic and difficult to argue against.
    • ANGUSM3C
    • By ANGUSM3C 12th Mar 18, 5:59 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    ANGUSM3C
    Universal Victims
    I am currently locked in a similar situation with the Longs. A very large sum of money is owed to me - no sign of this being received!! Did your Mother every get her money back?
    • Robbo T
    • By Robbo T 14th Mar 18, 2:02 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Robbo T
    Group Action
    Hello all,

    Just to chip in. We as a family are involved with this firm & they have been paying care home fees for my Nan until a few months ago & have now stopped. We’ve seen a solicitor & after a few stages that have failed, it has now come to the stage where it needs to go to the high court. This, as mentioned in the thread previously, is estimated to cost £60k+.

    What I was wondering is, seeing as there are a lot of us, can we go about this as a group? I’m not sure of legalities etc, but can’t we all club together & take action at a lower cost each? People may not be willing to risk £60k, but if it were say £10k instead, would you be prepared to push on & pursue this firm?

    Only an idea, but as it stands for us, this is going to cost my parents their house due to outstanding care home fees alone.

    This firm needs to be taken to task & any helpful advice is appreciated.

    Thank you.
    • UniversalTruth
    • By UniversalTruth 15th Mar 18, 11:50 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    UniversalTruth
    Just a heads up, a new company has been registered at the same address as Universal.

    Cohen Knights LLP is an estate planning company registered to Dencora House, the same address as Universal Wealth Preservation. The directors of this company are James Milk (ex Universal), Richard Wood (ex Universal) and a Mr De La Ronde-Wilton who is/was the interim Finance Director of Universal.
    • bank leper
    • By bank leper 15th Mar 18, 4:35 PM
    • 12 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    bank leper
    I have taken to phoning and leaving voicemail messages about once every 30 minutes. I've also bombarded them with emails. They really don't like it if you accuse them of hiding behind technology telling me it's very unhelpful ... you can imagine my reply to that!
    I have tracked down several ex-employees none of whom have anything positive to say about the Long's.
    These people are ripping families off when they are at their most vulnerable. I have been appalled at the number of Director posts SP Long leaves behind him. Interestingly it seems that he even has fingers in his brothers company ... although they deny all knowledge. However Companies house clearly list him... go figure. If you're stuck in the cycle the same as we are trying to get money back from them you have my sympathy. If you're looking at this thread wondering whether to get involved I would urge you to run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.
    • bank leper
    • By bank leper 15th Mar 18, 4:38 PM
    • 12 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    bank leper
    ... oh and we ARE looking at legal advice along with other avenues to track these people down. I'll keep you posted because we will not let this go. My parents are both now deceased and the Longs have been the bane of my life for too many years now. I will not let it go until I get back what belongs to our family. Try emails to interim.management@unviersalgroup.co.uk as well as the other emails if you're sending them messages.
    • Doc N
    • By Doc N 15th Mar 18, 4:55 PM
    • 6,693 Posts
    • 19,570 Thanks
    Doc N
    For what it's worth, it might be useful for anyone facing problems to contact the BBC, who've run at least two programmes about Universal.

    I think they might be very interested to learn what's going on now direct from anyone affected, and maybe they can flush something out of them.

    One was here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15405097

    And the other was on Radio 4's Money Box (a very sound financial programme): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08m8q7z



    Universal’s response to the BBC Money Box programme on Radio 4 was this:

    As you may be aware, this company was featured on BBC Money Box, broadcast on Radio 4 on the 15th April 2017 and repeated the following day on 16th April.

    We consider that the content of the programme presented a very one sided version of events, was misleading and did not show this company or the wide range of professional services it offers in the correct light.

    In the BBC’s own words, ‘we are one of many firms’ (indeed we are 1 of over 500 firms), which provide estate planning advice and as such feel that we were unreasonably singled out.

    The BBC advised us of their intention to broadcast the programme in an email on 29th March. We responded by providing them with substantial evidence to refute their allegations and those of the featured client.

    The BBC refused to answer our questions nor did they acknowledge the contents of the documents we sent but stated that they would continue with the programme as they planned regardless of the proof we sent them. Hence the only recourse left to us was to try to prevent broadcast by seeking the Court’s help. We did indeed go to the High Court but this was after we had sent the BBC numerous documents which clearly showed that their version of events was misguided and they gave us no confidence the programme would remain impartial. The case was never heard by the Court as the BBC raised a technicality and so the judge never made a decision as to the validity of the BBC’s claims.

    This release is intended to present a fuller version of the facts rather than those carefully selected by the BBC to support their allegations.

    The programme featured a client of Universal (Susan Steer) who had complained following the death of her husband. This complaint to us was almost two years after they had engaged us to carry out comprehensive planning for them.

    Dealing with the points as they appeared on the programme:

    Susan Steer first complained to us on 28th October 2016. We replied on the following dates answering her queries, 10th November 2016, 23rd November 2016, 6th December 2016, 15th December 2016, 7th February 2017, 9th February 2017 and 2nd March. We went to extraordinary lengths to deal with Mrs Steer's complaint, remaining professional at all times. Mrs Steer's complaints seemed to vary considerably each time, accusing this firm of varying misdemeanours and ironically she never suggested that 'care fees' was her main concern yet the BBC appear to have made this out to be the reason for her complaint. Dissatisfied with our responses, Susan Steer involved her local MP, Alan Johnson, who following receipt of the actual details of the matter from us has not proceeded with the case.

    The BBC did barge into a seminar being presented by our Steve Long in 2011; on 4th October 2011 they requested an interview with him and we replied promptly on 10th October 2011 saying he was out of the country and that he would speak to them upon his return; in the run up to their misleading programme on 15 April 2017 we provided the BBC with documentary proof of Mr. Long’s absence out of the country and that we had notified the BBC on his return from this absence yet they chose to edit today’s programme in such a way as to make it seem that Mr. Long was avoiding them but this absolutely was not the case.

    The Steers never told our representative that Don Steer had terminal cancer; we were only told that he had been diagnosed with cancer; we even sent the BBC the paperwork pertaining to the meetings with the Steers and the documents which they signed which showed precisely why the Steers instructed us; in their own words it was because “ [Mr and Mrs Steer] have a son who is not very responsible where money is concerned. Gifting their main asset into trust will be helpful for him in the future re administering their estate and for him after they have died “. The BBC only mentioned the later half of the actual reason, therefore being very selective with what they wanted the listeners to hear. Furthermore, If a client decides to withhold vital information relating to the health, which would understandably affect their planning, this firm cannot be expected to advise fully and for Mrs Steer and the BBC to suggest otherwise is wholly unreasonable.

    Don Steer not only attended the seminar but had a personal one to one consultation with our advisor, saw and approved the information we had noted and was finally seen by another representative on a subsequent visit to whom he confirmed his approval and that he was very happy with what we were doing for him and his family. At that second meeting Mr and Mrs Steer formally executed all of the legal documentation drafted for them and raised no objections or questions regarding the planning they had undertaken. At no point did Mr or Mrs Steer confirm Mr Steer's cancer as being terminal, despite our client care letter asking them to check and clarify our understanding.

    Lastly, we would add that Susan Steer and her son have indeed benefited from the planning Don put in place, as should Susan need to go into care, the assets which Don put into trust cannot now be used to pay for her care fees and their son is protected irrespective of her stated intentions of avoidance. Don's desire to ring-fence and protect his assets for his wife and son have been achieved. This was never mentioned on the programme.

    Turning to the seminars, we make it quite clear to potential clients in writing, in our slides and verbally during the presentation, that if avoiding care fees is a primary motive then we cannot assist them. Our sales consultant covered this at the end of the seminar when answering questions and categorically reinforced this fact.

    Trust planning has numerous benefits and while a client may enjoy many of these benefits, care fee avoidance should not be the motive for planning and while it may, for some, be a side benefit, it can never be guaranteed.

    Even the BBC’s own expert, Mary Butler, (a Solicitor for the Elderly) said during the programme “I am not saying that these products in certain circumstances will not work”... this is because they do work and we would add that if done correctly, for the right reasons and at the right time and not to deliberately avoid care home fees it would be difficult to challenge. The Government’s Care and Support Statutory Guidance definition says: “…it would be unreasonable to decide that a person had disposed of an asset in order to reduce the level of charges for their care and support needs if at the time the disposal took place they were fit and healthy and could not have foreseen the need for care and support.” In conclusion Trusts have been around for hundreds of years and have consistently proved to be an effective tool in tax and inheritance planning.

    Finally, we totally agree that many of the companies offering this type of planning are unregulated. In fact, many are untrained and unqualified. However, please note that our employees are highly qualified in their own specialist areas and are individually regulated within their own field of expertise. Our staff include experts qualified in law, accountancy and tax and ongoing technical training and competency is a top priority for the firm.

    The Government decided that bodies such as ourselves do not need to be regulated but, we would be happy to be regulated as we strive to meet and exceed all legal requirements.

    We have many thousands of satisfied clients who have enjoyed the benefits of comprehensive planning with us. We are not always perfect and we do occasionally fall short of the rigorous standards that we have set for ourselves, but we pride ourselves on the technical accuracy of our advice and the commitment and integrity of our staff who always act in the best interests of the client.


    A couple of email addresses in case anyone wants to get things going again:

    watchdog@bbc.co.uk

    moneybox@bbc.co.uk

    I think there's quite a story here.
    • don't get mad get even
    • By don't get mad get even 15th Mar 18, 5:59 PM
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    don't get mad get even
    We have been trying to work with Universal and the Longs for well over a year since my father died. Unfortunately he had appointed Universal as his Executors as well as the Longs being trustees. Probate was granted in August and since then all communication from Universal has consisted of incomplete and late responses and, to be frank, I do not believe a word of the excuses given for not paying out any money to any of the beneficiaries. No replies have been received for over two months. We have sent legal letters to Universal and these have been ignored.

    Our solicitors are now consulting a barrister with a view to initiating court proceedings to remove the Longs from their trustee role and recover monies.

    I would be interested to know if anyone has actually heard from Universal recently or received monies owing.

    I do quite like the idea of approaching the BBC and think this might be more effective if a number of victims do this.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 16th Mar 18, 10:30 AM
    • 4,255 Posts
    • 6,702 Thanks
    Malthusian
    Funny how the company manages to find time to draft lengthy responses to negative publicity, long after it went incommunicado to clients attempting to get their money out.

    The BBC did barge into a seminar being presented by our Steve Long in 2011
    "Barged into" a seminar open to the public?

    [Mr and Mrs Steer] have a son who is not very responsible where money is concerned. Gifting their main asset into trust will be helpful for him in the future re administering their estate and for him after they have died “
    How? If someone is the sole beneficiary of a trust and is mentally competent and over 18 they can demand the trust's money at any time, whether the trustees like it or not and even if the Will or the Trust Deed has some useless text about them having to wait to age 25 (Saunders v Vautier).

    Unless it is set up in a very specific way, giving the money to a trust is therefore totally useless for preventing an irresponsible son spending all the money. This can be got around, but typically by making the trust for the benefit of the son and some other person or persons (so the son is not automatically entitled). However, this means the son might not get the money if the trustees decide to give it to the other persons. So if the parents want the son to have the money, this creates another problem.

    I would not expect a PR statement to go into the ins and outs of this specific trust, but given what we know about Universal Wealth's history, I think it is highly dubious that this trust would have achieved what the Steers wanted to achieve.
    Turning to the seminars, we make it quite clear to potential clients in writing, in our slides and verbally during the presentation, that if avoiding care fees is a primary motive then we cannot assist them.
    As the people who attended these seminars did so because they'd received a leaflet saying "It's just not fair... find out how you can protect your home and savings from care fees", avoiding care fees was provably a primary motive for everyone at the seminar. Meaningless pseudo-compliance, which evidence on this thread suggests local authorities have seen through (post #156 from BewareUniversal).

    Finally, we totally agree that many of the companies offering this type of planning are unregulated. In fact, many are untrained and unqualified. However, please note that our employees are highly qualified in their own specialist areas and are individually regulated within their own field of expertise. Our staff include experts qualified in law, accountancy and tax and ongoing technical training and competency is a top priority for the firm.
    Qualified in what from which body? Maybe all this ongoing training is the reason why nobody at Universal Wealth has time to pick up the phones or release money to beneficiaries.

    The Government decided that bodies such as ourselves do not need to be regulated but, we would be happy to be regulated as we strive to meet and exceed all legal requirements.
    Then why haven't they applied to be regulated by the SRA, given the confidence this would give to their clients?
    • bank leper
    • By bank leper 16th Mar 18, 2:32 PM
    • 12 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    bank leper
    Happy for anyone to use my avatar to help hunt down Mr Long ... I'm sure he will have to surface for air eventually. He's lurking around setting up new businesses according to Companies house website, although interestingly Tim Long (who Steve Long is showing as a director of his company) claims not to know who he is ...!!
    • bank leper
    • By bank leper 16th Mar 18, 2:37 PM
    • 12 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    bank leper
    We have been trying to work with Universal and the Longs for well over a year since my father died. Unfortunately he had appointed Universal as his Executors as well as the Longs being trustees. Probate was granted in August and since then all communication from Universal has consisted of incomplete and late responses and, to be frank, I do not believe a word of the excuses given for not paying out any money to any of the beneficiaries. No replies have been received for over two months. We have sent legal letters to Universal and these have been ignored.

    Our solicitors are now consulting a barrister with a view to initiating court proceedings to remove the Longs from their trustee role and recover monies.

    I would be interested to know if anyone has actually heard from Universal recently or received monies owing.

    I do quite like the idea of approaching the BBC and think this might be more effective if a number of victims do this.
    Originally posted by don't get mad get even
    I had a flurry of emails from them yesterday - none of which were of any help or productive at all. I think we should approach the BBC / Any media outlet ... they've covered Universal before. Apparently staff that worked there last year who got laid off haven't been paid either! Those that are left don't like it when you suggest they're not doing their job though!! Any help to force them to pay out would be gratefully received. Companies House did try to strike them off (again!) in February. It's important that everyone advises Companies House that we are all actively pursuing them for money ... this puts this action on hold. They must NOT be allowed to be struck off ... if we do everyone loses everything!!
    Please do contact companies house and advise them if you are impacted by this situation. Strike off has been delayed until August.
    • Robbo T
    • By Robbo T 16th Mar 18, 6:24 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Robbo T
    sandy.martin.mp@parliament.uk

    This is the email address for the MP in Ipswich where the company is based. He wants to help as I contacted him earlier, so please email him with your case & let!!!8217;s get this all sorted.
    • Hellibore
    • By Hellibore 19th Mar 18, 2:56 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Hellibore
    Still No News
    First time posting to this thread.
    I too am waiting for funds to be disbursed and getting no response to any of my attempts at communication. I wrote to Sandy Martin MP today, lets see what he can offer if anything.
    Feeling powerless at the moment but not giving up.
    • Hellibore
    • By Hellibore 19th Mar 18, 2:58 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Hellibore
    I'd like to know how you get on via your solicitor. Mine advised not throwing good money after bad, but I hate to think of him getting away with this.
    • don't get mad get even
    • By don't get mad get even 21st Mar 18, 6:07 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    don't get mad get even
    We haven't heard from our barrister yet but have written to Sandy Martin.
    I will also be contacting the BBC and the Consumer Association this weekend.
    Hellibore, did your solicitor say why you shouldn's pursue the Longs?
    As they have the best part of £200K of my father's money I will pursue them to the darkest corner thay are hiding in - both for that money - and to stop them ripping off others.
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