New research has been published by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) uncovering the impact of unqualified advisers in the estate planning sector, issuing warnings of buyer beware. STEP has long been concerned that unqualified and incompetent advisors are taking advantage of clients, “selling” highly complicated and often unnecessary wills and trusts, resulting in substantial parts of loved ones estates being spent on legal fees in order to fix the problems or paying more tax as result of the “solutions”. The report highlights multiple cases where clients had to pay additional tax ranging from £25,000 to £2 million.
Direct from the report:
- “Just over half of those surveyed (54%) have come across firms making false claims about the wills they are selling to clients. Of those, 71 people mentioned that advisors had wrongly told their clients that they could avoid care home fees by putting their home and other assets into a trust during their lifetime. Some clients have been advised to gift their house during their lifetime. Both of these are considered to be deliberate deprivation of assets and are ineffective for care assessment which can lead to serious problems.
- Over half (55%) had come across cases of incompetence or dishonesty in the drafting and administration of trusts
- 79% had come across cases of wills with errors”
Clients inadvertently enter into these arrangements, thinking they have put their affairs in order, when actually they have been let down and taken advantage of as the advisor lacks the specialist skills and knowledge to give what is extremely technical legal and tax advice.
Those who write wills and administer estates should be regulated to ensure minimum standards of competence and behaviour in order to protect the public.
If you have any concerns due to this information, please cantact one of the Private Client Team, who would be happy to help.
Here's a link to STEPs full report: https://www.step.org/system/files/media/files/2023-09/2023-03-Wills-and-Trusts-STEP-Research-Report.pdf