Nottinghamshire County Council is appealing for people to be on their guard for what could be the latest care home fees scam that is targeting retired Nottinghamshire homeowners.
In recent weeks, a number of residents have received cold telephone calls from people who claim to be able to ‘ring fence’ their home and savings from the cost of care home fees, by putting them into a Trust document.
The county council’s Trading Standards team is investigating the reports.
Earlier this year, the county council’s Trading Standards team successfully prosecuted two Nottinghamshire-based businesses for running a similar scam which has resulted in imprisonment for the ringleaders.
In the most recent cases, people from organisations based outside of the county, are arranging for a ‘Legal Consultant’ to visit a resident’s home who tries to persuade you to pay an up-front fee of several thousand pounds. They promise that the Trust is a watertight legal document that will protect the resident’s home and their savings for their family.
The truth is that the products they peddle will not protect you from care home fees and may have other unforeseen financial consequences. ‘Deprivation of assets’ rules means that anything put into a trust to avoid care fees can still be included in the financial assessment.
Despite using names that make them sound like legal professionals, these businesses are not real solicitors firms and are not endorsed or regulated by the Law Society or Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, Committee Chairman for Community Safety, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Legal affairs are often complex by their nature but the public must be on their guard and report anything suspicious to us so that we can investigate as we are there to protect our communities from this sort of activity.
“Please treat all cold calls with caution: We never recommend employing a trader based on a cold call. We also recommend that you research any company that you are planning to do business with before allowing them to arrange a sales visit.”
One Nottinghamshire resident was persuaded to send his property deeds to one of these companies and we had to intervene to recover them. He is still owed several thousand pounds by the business.
Other people have exercised their right to cancel their contracts but were refused refunds.
If you have received a cold call that matches this description, please report it to us via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
If you want advice on wills, trusts, or estate planning we recommend contacting a qualified solicitor. Contact the Law Society on 020 7242 1222 to find a local solicitor who specialises in wills and probate.
You can also contact the charity Age UK on 0800 169 6565 who provide some excellent advice leaflets about financial planning in later life and the rules surrounding care home fees.