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‘Solicitors interfering in equity release advice’

A leading barrister has accused some solicitors of being so prejudiced against equity-release products that they are interfering in the advice process.

At an equity-release round table organised by GE Life, barrister and consultant Tish Hanifan called for the role of solicitors within the equity-release advice process to be clarified as many mistrust or do not understand the product.

She said some solicitors unduly express opinions on products and services, falling dangerously close to giving financial advice to clients.

Hanifan added that a panel of solicitors should be set up to prevent such interference.

John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger said Safe Home Income Plans should look again at why it requires solicitors to sign a certificate saying the equity-release scheme has been explained to the client, claiming that solicitors find the requirement demeaning.

Hanifan agreed that many solicitors regard signing off as insulting.

GE Life senior product manager and Ship mortgage product board chairman Simon Little said: “The time is now right for Ship to be looking at how solicitors work. We will be working with people like the Law Society to see what needs to be done.”

Hanifan said: “Some solicitors have an attitude that they are protecting their clients by expressing views on products and providers.

“They have a very important role in the equity-release process but clients need to know they are working with someone who has some sort of expertise and knowledge.”

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