Do I really need a solicitor? The risks of using unregulated estate-planners

Partner Cara GrantIn this series, we explore real-life examples that our lawyers have encountered where failing to seek solicitor advice has caused clients all manner of problems. Along the way there are useful ‘takeaways’ to help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Naturally, people will go to great lengths to protect their homes and other hard-earned assets, but unfortunately there are dubious companies that exploit this desire to safeguard our property.

One such unregulated estate-planning business ran seminars across the country promising to help people to protect themselves against possible future care home fees and inheritance tax (IHT). Since then it appears to have ceased trading, its website is unavailable and the company is uncontactable.

Clients have been left facing major problems after setting up trusts with the business as their trustees, and are now unable to regain control of their houses, cash or other trust assets.

Private Client Partner Cara Sheppard (pictured) is currently helping several clients whose assets are in limbo as a result of dealing with unregulated estate planners. One client paid an estate-planning company several thousand pounds, to include the grant and registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). Unfortunately, the company became insolvent before the LPAs were completed and so the clients have paid for a service that they have not received and will not be compensated.

Had these businesses been regulated solicitors’ firms, there would be a number of controls in place to ensure that clients and their money were protected. However, these companies were unregulated, so they did not have professional indemnity insurance or a compensation fund, leaving their clients high and dry when they failed to deliver the service they had promised or, worse still, went out of business.

Why you should instruct a solicitor

When you obtain legal advice from a solicitor, you have the assurance of knowing you are dealing with a qualified professional who is insured and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). If something were to go wrong, you would have the right of redress through our regulatory bodies in addition to basic consumer protection.

For expert advice on Wills, probate, trusts, LPAs and other Private Client matters please contact Cara Grant:

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