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!
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.
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