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Promoters of asset protection trusts jailed for mis-selling

Monday, 18 May, 2015

STEP Lead

Eight people have received prison sentences at Nottingham Crown Court for mis-selling so-called asset protection trusts to elderly clients.

Asset protection trusts – sometimes called property protection trusts or estate preservation trusts – are advertised as a means for homeowners to protect their property against local authority charges if they have to go into residential care. The theory is that a property placed in trust is not regarded as the settlor's asset for means-testing purposes. However, many qualified practitioners consider that such devices do not deliver what they promise, in that local authorities are entitled to disregard the trust when assessing the individual's assets, under the deliberate deprivation of assets rules.

The defendants in the Nottingham case employed salesmen to cold-call and then visit the elderly clients to persuade them to use these trusts, despite their lack of legal expertise. Trading under the names Inheritance Protection Services, Inheritance and Probate Solutions, and Goldstar Law, they demanded advance payments of GBP2,000 for setting up the trusts. Some clients were told that they had to buy the trust on that day or they would be charged for future visits.

During the two years that the businesses were operating, they took more than GBP250,000 in client fees. They also sold will-writing and power of attorney services. Most of the products sold were never delivered.

Joseph Croft of Sleaford, was jailed for four-and-a-half years, and Alan and Matthew Appleyard of Halifax, both received four-year prison sentences. They all admitted offences of fraudulent trading and unlawfully carrying out the reserved legal activity of preparing trust documents.

The others were given suspended sentences, including Joy Bell, of Bracebridge Heath, who was employed as the business' 'Head of Legal' although she had no legal qualifications.

Sources