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  • Writer's pictureThe Chesterton House Team

It's not just Law to our Team

This week I met with four members of a family to begin the process of dealing with the administration of the estate of the man who was their respective husband and father, and who clearly they had all loved very much.

It's always difficult to turn to practical matters after the death of someone close to you, and the responsibilities of sorting out the paperwork, dealing with financial and government institutions, notifying all of the people who need to be told, and totalling up the value of the deceased person's estate to be able to calculate whether they will need to pay inheritance tax, can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, at some point it has to be faced and the family were here in our office to find out where to start.

Two key members of our legal team, Jen and Hannah, joined the meeting too. Jen carefully explained what is involved in the probate process, and the steps that need to be followed. Dad's estate included cash in the bank, his home, and his share in the family business as well as the property from which the business traded. We had helped him to create his Will a few years earlier, and because of the business assets that he owned we had recommended setting up a trust within the Will to maximize the tax relief available. This meant that there were various options available to the family that they could consider, and we outlined some of these.

It was clear, though, that they were finding this whole process quite difficult. It was new territory for them and they had a number of questions about how it all worked and how the tax, if any, was calculated. We assured them that we would proceed at their pace, and there would be ample time to let it all sink in.

The biggest question that they had, though, was who would do this work? They would need valuations of the various assets, have to make declarations to HMRC, notify the necessary people, transfer the properties to the beneficiaries under the Will, and a myriad of other details.

Jen explained that, if they wanted us to, we would be able to do all of these things for them. Whilst dealing with all of these aspects of someone's estate is a daunting task for the uninitiated, it's something that our team is very well versed in. Holding our client's hand through these difficult times to be able to remove the stress and worry, make sure that everything gets completed properly, and working with families to help them make good decisions about the choices that they have available to them, is what gets our legal team out of bed in the morning.

After the family had left, visibly more optimistic than when they arrived, Jen, Hannah and I each reflected on how we had ourselves felt emotional during the meeting as we felt the love that existed within their family, and the support that they obviously continued to give to each other. I had known Dad for many years, and we felt proud to be able to do our bit to help his family to understand and engage in the process, and to lift the burden of responsibility from their shoulders.

Practising law, accountancy, finance and investment are all dry, technical subjects, you might think. But we know that when you are clear about the role that your work plays in your clients' lives, it's actually anything but. It's about being there, offering support and expertise, both technical and emotional, when it's most needed. It's what we do and we're very proud of it.

Andy Jervis, Chairman

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