Q: Why do I need a solicitor to act for me?
A: Independent, impartial legal advice is your safeguard and guarantee that the terms and implications of an equity release scheme are fully explained to you.
The code of conduct of SHIP (see below) states that a solicitor of your choice must sign a certificate to the effect that the scheme has been explained to you.
Q: What will EQLegal/Birchall Blackburn do?
A: Birchall Blackburn is a firm of solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our role is to provide you with independent advice about the terms and implications of the equity release scheme you are about to enter into and to assist you and the other parties to complete the equity release. The advice we give will be independent and you are free to ask questions on all aspects of the equity release transaction.
Q: How much will you charge me?
A: Our standard charge is £400 (including VAT). A fully itemised quotation is provided at the outset which includes a ‘fixed price menu’ for all the possible add-ons. For example, we tell you in advance that if we have to arrange for an occupier of your property to get separate legal advice (because this is a requirement of the product provider) we will charge an extra £23.50.
Q: Do you provide advice about the scheme my financial adviser
A: We do not provide you with any recommendations or advice in relation to the different equity release products (other than in very general terms). We do not sell equity release schemes. We do not review the advice you have been given by whichever firm is selling you the equity release scheme.
Q: What does the Financial Services Authority (FSA) do?
A: The FSA regulates most firms that sell equity release schemes. This means they must have to meet standards that are monitored by the FSA.
Further information and a useful guide to equity release is available from the FSA who can be contacted by telephone (0845 606 1234) if you do not have access to their website (www.moneymadeclear.co.uk).
Q: Should I get advice from a financial adviser?
A: We think it is essential that you receive advice from an FSA-regulated firm. Without that advice, if the scheme you have chosen turns out to be unsuitable you will have fewer grounds for complaint and redress.
Remember that we will not and cannot provide you with advice about a scheme you have chosen for yourself (as opposed to any other scheme): we can only advise you about the terms and implications of that particular scheme.
If you have not received any advice from an FSA-regulated firm we recommend that you do so straight away. Please note that some FSA-regulated firms can only recommend the equity release schemes of certain providers. If you want to make sure the recommendation covers the broadest possible range of available products we suggest you contact an Independent Financial Adviser who specialises in equity release schemes.
Q: What does Safe Home Income Plans Limited (SHIP) do?
A: SHIP is a self-regulatory trade body which promotes safe equity release schemes.
Most leading equity release scheme providers are members of SHIP and you can take further comfort if the scheme that has been recommended to you is endorsed with the SHIP logo.
Even the providers who are not members of SHIP tend to offer products which have similar levels of protection but you will have no guarantee that the SHIP safety guarantees apply if there is no SHIP logo.
Further information on SHIP can be obtained from their website (www.ship-ltd.org) or by contacting them on 0870 241 6060.
Q: Why is EQ Legal/Birchall Blackburn recommended by equity
release scheme providers and intermediaries?
A: Birchall Blackburn is a specialist in equity release schemes. EQ Legal is our specialist equity release legal service.
We are independent of the scheme providers or sellers and act in the best interests of our clients.
We have a dedicated team of people who do equity release day in, day out.
Our customer satisfaction rating is very high and we provide our service at a fixed price notified to you in advance.
In short, we are very good at what we do and our clients, the equity release scheme providers and the firms selling equity release schemes know this.
We have not and will not pay anyone to recommend, introduce or refer you to Birchall Blackburn.