Sarah has been qualified as a solicitor for over twenty years and specialises in all aspects of private…View Profile View all
The owners of Ipswich-based Universal Tax Solutions, Universal Wealth Preservation, Universal Asset Protection Ltd and Universal Trustees Ltd (‘Universal’) are being investigated by Suffolk Police, following their apparently fraudulent handling of families’ wealth and assets.
Steven and Melanie Long operated Universal through several companies, some of which are listed above, offering care fee planning to clients nationwide. They advised that assets be put into trust to prevent them being used to pay care fees in the future. However, this planning has meant that often clients are now unable to access their assets or sell their own homes due to restrictions put in place by Universal. Often, one of the Universal companies is the legal owner of a property, and sometimes Steven and Melanie Long are personally listed as the owners of the property.
Universal ran seminars throughout the country in relation to care fee planning and offered Will-writing and the drafting of Lasting Powers of Attorney as further services. They then often visited clients in their homes to take instructions and sign paperwork. Will-writing is not a regulated activity and so the ‘professionals’ at Universal were typically not qualified lawyers.
Care fee planning will only be successful if the purpose of putting the assets into trust was not to prevent them being used to pay care home fees, so the vast majority of care fee planning does not work. Companies like Universal often charge substantial fees for the creation of trusts, so before going ahead, it is important to get independent legal advice.
We have been informed that Cohen Knights LLP are now trustees of some of Universal’s trusts and have been making contact with former Universal clients. Cohen Knights LLP lists as its directors Richard Wood, who is the former head of Universal’s Private Client department, and Glen James Wicks De La Ronde Wilton, who may have been Universal’s Financial Controller (now resigned as a director of Cohen Knights LLP). Cohen Knights LLP are not a regulated solicitor’s firm.
If you have any concerns about Universal or think that you may have been affected by care fee planning, please do not hesitate to get in touch. There are hundreds of people in the same position and there are steps that can be taken to help you regain control of your assets.
Please contact Sarah Hodkinson for more information.