A recent article from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners ("STEP") has given warning to anyone who was a client of Universal Tax Solutions, which traded as Universal Wealth Preservation ("Universal").
Universal prepared Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney ("LPAs"), and Trusts for its clients, in particular advertising a scheme whereby clients placed money or property into trust for the purpose of artificially reducing the apparent size of their estate. Clients were told that this could potentially provide savings in estate administration fees, tax and/or care fees. In many cases Universal, its owners, Mr Steven Long and Mrs Melanie Long, or some of Universal's related companies were appointed as Executors, Attorneys or Trustees.
Universal is now being investigated for numerous complaints in relation to advice they have given, with many clients facing uncertainty as to the current ownership and management of their assets. Mr and Mrs Long are being investigated by the Police, whilst Universal itself has entered into compulsory liquidation and is therefore no longer trading.
Clients have perhaps unsurprisingly reported difficulty in contacting Universal and recovering their original documents and are sadly facing the possibility of significant financial losses as a result of Universal's malpractice. In many cases, court applications will need to be made in order to remove Universal, any of its related companies or Mr and Mrs Long as Executor, Trustee or Attorney, with no guarantee that the cost of such applications can be recovered.
If you were ever a client of Universal, you may be affected because:
- Universal hold your Will, or a Will of a relative which you cannot now recover from them;
- Universal prepared your LPAs or Enduring Powers of Attorney, or those of a relative which you cannot now recover from them;
- Universal, its related companies or Mr and Mrs Long are appointed as an Executor, Trustee or Attorney for you or a relative;
- You are a co-Executor or a beneficiary of an estate which Universal was administering;
- You are a co-Trustee with or a beneficiary of a Trust which Universal was administering; or
- Universal was undertaking work for you which involved altering the title to your property at the Land Registry.
These very unfortunate cases highlight the need to have regulated professionals, such as solicitors, handling your affairs. If you think that you may be affected, and would like to speak to Clapham & Collinge specialist Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitors to update your Will or Lasting Powers of Attorneys, please contact our Client Relations Team to book an appointment on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.