Excellent service and great client outcomes

A new flagship partnership with Museums Sheffield, a growing portfolio of satisfied clients and plaudits from the Legal 500 for excellent service and great client outcomes - it’s been a busy time for Wake Smith’s wills and probate team.

The department’s niche strengths are inheritance tax planning, usually via Wills and trusts, and dealing with the affairs of the elderly and vulnerable by means of Lasting Powers of Attorney and Deputyship applications to, and appointments by, the Court of Protection.

Now 18 months into her role as the first female head of private client at Wake Smith, Suzanne Porter looks at the highlights and aspirations for her expanding team.

She said: “I now head up the department’s ever growing team which currently extends to eight fee earners and four secretaries.

“Since taking over as head of department from Andrew Vidler, we have recruited a new solicitor and a paralegal to focus on Wills and powers of attorney to deal with the volume and specialism required.

“At any given time there are around twenty estates valued in excess of £1m each in the course of administration.

“The value of trust funds under management by the department is over £61m.”

A new business plan together with a revised management strategy has seen the department work smarter and more efficiently resulting in the kick back of a better service to clients through more effective use of individual’s time, case loads and case management systems, structuring fees and staff feedback.

This year the team joined forces with Museums Sheffield and its legacy team and is now advising the organisation’s sponsors, guests, contacts and employees in the whole of South Yorkshire.

Suzanne said: “This is in part as a result of the technical expertise within the team and also due to our dynamic, personable and friendly approach to advising clients.

“It was a huge honour to have been asked to partner Museums Sheffield for the launch of their legacies programme and we are working well together.”

Joined up thinking is key to Wake Smith’s success and the private client team works very closely with the firm’s personal injury and clinical negligence department.

Suzanne added: “We have been instructed via referrals to set up a number of personal injury trusts, the settlement values going into the trusts amounting in total to multi-million pounds.

“There is a clear policy within the firm, supported whole-heartedly by the private client team, of departments working together to provide clients with the best possible service that the firm can offer.

The private client team at Wake Smith advises high-net-worth individuals on inheritance tax planning, as well as handling the affairs of the elderly and vulnerable.

Suzanne added: “The wills and probate department also has responsibility for the administration of a long-standing group of family settlements, which now have some 40 or more beneficiaries, some of the fourth generation. The assets of the settlements have a total value in excess of £24 million. Michael Tunbridge, Andrew Vidler and myself are trustees of the various settlements.

Wake Smith’s personal tax, trusts and probate team was praised for delivering ‘excellent service and great client outcomes‘ in the Legal 500 2018.

So what is the focus for 2018?

Suzanne added: “Private client solicitors are simply focused on getting to grips with frequent and complex developments in the actual law meaning we have to be up to speed on technical content and out there networking with financial institutions and advisors.

“Customer service is key. Our clients still want face-to-face meetings with a solicitor who is willing and able to provide a proper, personal service, who can understand and advise on the innumerable amount of issues that may stem from their circumstances. These clients cannot be served by the conveyor-belt, online approach that has emerged in other areas of practice.

“Above all, the extremely positive feedback from our clients really makes a difference to the team. And we are really proud to have so many glowing testimonials about our work.

“It can be a time consuming area of the law – but only by talking to clients can we really assess our client’s mental capacity and ability to make decisions and make the best recommendations for them.”

The Wills and probate team at Wake Smith consists of head of team and director Suzanne Porter; director Breda Cashell, associate Rachel Baseley, assistant solicitor Jessica Rowbotham, legal executive Shaun Talbot; paralegal Holly Abbott Cragg and consultants Andrew Vidler and Michael Tunbridge.

For further information on services offered by the private client team contact Suzanne Porter on 0114 224 2178 or at suzanne.porter@wake-smith.com


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