Download Wills and Trusts: Buyer Beware: uncovering the impact of unqualified advisors in the estate planning sector
People make a will or set up a trust for their own, and their loved ones’, peace of mind. They need to be confident that they are getting sound advice for such an important decision.
Otherwise, grieving families have to deal with the financial and emotional consequences of bad advice, which can be devastating.
STEP has long been concerned that unqualified or incompetent advisors in the UK are taking advantage of their clients or letting them down because they lack specialist skills and knowledge.
We regularly hear from people whose loved ones have inadvertently chosen wills that mean that substantial parts of their estate are spent on legal fees or unnecessary tax bills.
We first surveyed our members in 2011 about their concerns. In May 2023, we sent out a new survey to STEP’s UK members. The report found that:
- 79% have come across cases of wills with errors.
- Over half (54%) highlighted their concerns about rogue firms making false claims about wills leading to increased tax bills.
- The majority of respondents (63%) have come across cases where a will writing company has quoted a fee for writing a will but then charged additional costs not covered within the terms of business.
- 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.