A partner at a Midland firm of solicitors has said there is a worrying number of “fake solicitors” trying to scam people out of their money over the phone.
And she is warning people to be on their guard.
Fiona Barnes, a partner with law firm MFG solicitors, said two of her clients were disturbed by cold callers trying to “sell” them a range of services – specifically to safeguard the person’s home from being sold to pay for long term care fees.
The caller also claimed that the clients’ solicitors were failing them in not advising them about protecting their homes in case a family member had to go into care.
Ms Barnes said: “I have recently been contacted by a couple of existing clients who have been ‘cold-called’.
“They initially thought the caller was from a firm of solicitors but in one case at least this was not the case, the caller being from a firm of will-writers, who unlike solicitors do not have to be qualified or regulated.
“My first client was most distressed by the call because the caller told her that she would have to sell her home to pay for her partner’s care fees on his death.
“In her circumstances the value of her partner’s share in the home would be disregarded for means testing his care fee contribution, although his other assets and income could be used for fees, and so the advice given by these will-writers was incorrect.
“We had already discussed using trusts in our client’s will to protect her half value of the house should she die first and we also discussed setting up a lifetime Asset Protection Trust to give greater protection for her half share in the home, but neither of these options was suitable for our client.
“My second client – who was told that her number had simply been taken from the telephone book – understood from the call that by making a will for £70 she could safeguard her home from long term care fees. This is absolute rubbish.
The client was 82 years old, a widow, the sole owner of her home and in poor health, Ms Barnes said, making her more vulnerable to cold callers.
“I suspect the caller probably talked about wills, powers of attorney and asset protection trusts all in the same call, which would have confused anyone,” she said.
“I am keen to help clients to protect their assets through wills, trusts and other methods where appropriate but I am concerned that this particular organisation is scaring people unduly.
“There is widespread belief that by giving away your home you can protect it from having to pay for care fees, but the rules on this are complex and the local authority has wide powers in respect of assets given away. Anyone thinking of giving away their home should take specialist legal advice.