Rogue will writers jailed for defrauding elderly clients

Two men who conned pensioners out of thousands of pounds as part of an unregulated wills and financial services business have been jailed.

Michael John Wild, 52, and Robert Henry Holly, 44 ran Yorkshire Asset Protection (YAP) which offered wills, powers of attorney, funeral plan purchases and property protection trusts. However a jury at Leeds Crown Court heard some of the documents they provided were worthless and in other cases powers of attorney were never registered.

One woman paid £6,500 for a funeral plan but after her husband died, she discovered the funds had never made it to the provider and there was no funeral plan in place.

More than 30 people gave evidence at the trial according to local press, which saw both jailed for 15 months.

Wild, of Rawdon Avenue, Tang Hall, and Holly, of South Street, Cleethorpes, were each found guilty of participating in a fraudulent business through their involvement with YAP and engaging in a commercial practice which contravened the requirements of “professional diligence” over the registration of documents.

Wild was also convicted on two charges of fraud by representing that the Government was changing the law and also falsely representing that he was a solicitor.
The court heard Wild was also in breach of a four-month suspended sentence for fraud involving a credit card, imposed in 2011.

Local solicitor Peter Gibson helped many YAP clients go through and check their documents.

Speaking to Today’s Wills and probate, Peter said: “They were selling policies and protections, trust, preparing wills, lasting powers of attorney and funeral plans. From what they made of it, they seemed to have a good business.

“They had lots of clients, and after seeing some of the documents they had prepared, some were fine and some not quite so, and they didn’t do some of the things they said they were going to do.

“So there were funeral plans sold which didn’t exist, and some work which wasn’t done. If they’d stuck to doing what they were doing initially I think they’d still be in business, although I’m not in favour of unregulated will writers. If they had carried on as they originally started, they’d have been fine.

“Solicitors can struggle to have a positive image, we can be perceived as fat cats and unfriendly, which gives license to these sorts of people who can present themselves as more friendly and fun, but the ironic thing was for the services that had been rendered by them and the bills served, had they been done by regulated firms like us, ours wouldn’t have been anywhere near what theirs was, which flies in the face of this perception that we would be more expensive.

“Proper advice does have a cost but it shouldn’t be disproportionate to the value that’s given. and for the clients of YAP, it really was disproportionate, particularly for those whose work wasn’t done.”

Today's Wills and Probate