What attracted, and keeps you in this area of law?
I always wanted to be a solicitor so after studying in London and Paris, I qualified in a small high street firm in Shoreham by Sea in 1999. There I had a taste of a number of different areas of law and financial advice. After qualifying, I worked in financial services in London for a while but found I missed the personal connection with my clients, so returned to law at Mayo Wynne Baxter in 2003. Writing a Will involves fully understanding what a client needs and preparing the right Will to suit them. Helping a grieving relative navigate the probate process, and share their burden is an immense privilege.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
It’s a cliché, but other than my colleagues, the best thing about my job is my clients. Every day is different. Dealing with the loss of a loved one or contemplating one’s own mortality is hard. To have a client say “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” is a lovely feeling. I am currently head of the department and am enjoying being able to help shape the future of the team and watching the more junior members progress. I work with a network of excellent financial and tax advisers and accountants to ensure that my clients get great all-round advice.
What are your particular strengths and skills?
Possibly strangely for a solicitor, I am good at maths and really enjoy preparing accounts, showing what funds have been received and paid out during the administration of an estate. I take time to talk with my clients to work out what they actually want, to create the right Will, Power of Attorney or even to decide to do nothing. I like solving problems and getting things done. And I especially enjoy saving my clients from paying unnecessary tax. When I decided to specialise in this area, I became a member of STEP, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners which is a worldwide organisation of experts in this area. I now sit on the Sussex STEP committee. I am very positive, and passionate about the importance to everyone to have a Will. I have done presentations in retirement and care homes, to charity supporters, to bank customers, and even to the WI to spread the word.
Tell me about a memorable time when you’ve helped a client
I hope I help all my clients, but some unusual situations do spring to mind.
- I remember one client who was in danger of losing her house when her partner died unexpectedly without a Will. We helped keep the family in their home.
- On a number of occasions, I have visited clients in hospital to prepare Wills, giving them peace to know their loved ones will be supported.
- One of my clients had over 100 individual shareholdings and certificates that we had to sort and sell.
- One of the most complex I have been involved with as a gentleman whose uncle died without a Will. His estate went to his sister, who sadly died shortly afterwards. The uncle had 2 businesses, several shareholdings, and 3 properties. At the same time, we are dealing with a claim that a fraudulent Will exists.
- Recently we helped a local client claim heritage asset relief against Inheritance Tax, saving an important painting for a local museum.
What would your colleagues say about you?
That I am straight talking. But I talk a lot. And I will always try and help the rest of the team.
Outside of work
I like to spend time with my family and I even try to cram in a good book when I have the time!
May I take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for a friendly and efficient administration of my mother's estate.
Mr R - Andover
Huge thanks Fiona and Lauren - you were both wonderful with our mother! I can't say enough how professional, yet sensitive you were with her. We are so lucky to have had you both assigned to our family case.
With warmest wishes and heartfelt appreciation.