Were you a client of Universal Wealth Preservation?
Four Oaks Legal Services have been made aware by the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) that they have received an unprecedented number of enquiries about Mr Steven Long and the companies of which he is a Director, namely Universal Tax Solutions which traded as Universal Wealth Preservation. Associated companies also include Universal Asset Protection Ltd and Universal Trustees Ltd.
Mr Steven Long, his Wife Mrs Melanie Long and Universal Trustees Ltd have acted as Professional Trustees for many clients. Universal Wealth also assisted clients with the drafting and management of trusts; drafting wills and lasting powers of attorney (LPAs); as well as providing storage of original documents.
STEP have confirmed that they suspended Mr Long’s membership back in November 2017, pending the outcome of investigations into the numerous complaints they received.
Universal Asset Protection entered into compulsory liquidation in May 2018, although the business premises of Universal Wealth Preservation was closed several months before this time and the website is no longer active.
Four Oaks Legal are aware that many people have experienced great difficulties in attempting to contact Universal, with no responses to emails, letters or phone calls made. Those clients have been concerned about the management of their trusts and have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of their assets, or retrieve original wills and LPAs held in storage by Universal. Some clients have discovered their LPAs have not been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), although they believed they had.
We are aware that Suffolk Police are in the process of investigating Mr and Mrs Long, and they have seized all documents that were held at the businesses premises. Universal clients now face the realistic prospect that they are unlikely to retrieve original documents or to recover cash assets.
What should you do now?
The advice STEP is giving to Universal clients is as follows:-
- Seek independent legal advice from an experienced trust and estate practitioner on your options, which may include how to make an application to the courts to replace Mr and Mrs Long/Universal Asset Protection Ltd as trustees, making new wills and LPAs.
- Check whether Lasting or Enduring Powers of Attorney have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian – call the OPG on 0300 456 0300.
- If you are not in possession of an original will held by them, make a new one without delay.
- Contact the Land Registry to ascertain in whose name your property is registered. Call the Land Registry on 0300 006 0411. The Land Registry is aware of the issues with Universal.
- If appropriate, consider whether to make a report to Action Fraud quoting ‘Operation Ardent’.
- If concerned by marketing information received or direct approaches from other firms advising you to use their services, consider taking advice from Trading Standards/Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you are affected by any of these issues with Universal, please contact Rebecca Head or Joanna Parkin on 01543 440 308 and they will be pleased to discuss your options with you.