Succession - which side are you on?

Eleanor Firth, Associate in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, property litigation team.
Eleanor Firth
3 min Read

Our private client team often acts for longstanding clients and their families. As a trainee in the team you get the chance to work on a variety of matters with high net worth clients who also usually have very interesting and unique family dynamics.

(Binge watching Succession over my Christmas holiday was a great insight into the world of private client and might have also been 29 hours well spent.)  

Private Client Blog

Till death do us part

Take the Roys for example, longstanding clients of the firm who collectively are worth over £18 million. Shiv Roy contacts my supervisor wishing to create her first will ahead of her upcoming marriage to her fiancé Tom. Shiv has never made a will before, has never married, has worldwide assets and currently has no children.

As marriage usually invalidates a will correctly drafting a contemplation of marriage clause is very important for Shiv, as this will ensure her will remains valid once her and Tom have tied the knot!

As a trainee researching a contemplation of marriage clause and drafting the will really allow you to gain technical drafting skills teamed with an understanding of the practical importance to the client.


Due to some unfortunate circumstances at Shiv and Tom’s wedding including a sudden death of a waiter, the team gets instructed with a new probate matter with the Roys paying our fees. I attend a meeting with my supervisor where we meet with the bereaved mother and talk through the steps required to obtain a grant of probate and how we can assist her with administering her sons’ estate.

I give to you

Shiv’s older brother Kendall, has two adult children. His marriage broke down last year but for now he remains married and his current will leaves everything to his estranged spouse with no default beneficiaries. As Kendall is in the depth of heartbreak he does not want to sign a new will. He wants to make sure his children are provided for and emails to ask for advice on gifting them £1 million each. Lifetime gifting can be a very tax efficient way of providing for your children and starting the seven year clock running as early as possible can be hugely beneficial when thinking about inheritance tax liability.  

Trust me

The next day my supervising partner takes an urgent call from Logan, the head of the family and all-round business mogul. He wishes to have a in person meeting that afternoon, before flying back to New York, to discuss one of his many trusts that the firm set up for the family just under 10 years ago. The trust is nearing its 10 year anniversary and Logan is conscious that an anniversary charge of 6% on the trust assets will soon be due. He wishes to discuss the tax consequences of terminating the trust.

We discuss issues such as Capital Gains Tax, the Relevant Property Regime and Hold Over relief, all of which are  considerations when bringing the trust to an end. This time Logan says he is happy to pay the anniversary charge and asks for tax calculations. As a trainee I tidy up the attendance note and draft a note to Logan outlining his options and include the amount of tax due. 

Blogs Individuals & families private client team wills estate planning and trusts tex Russell-Cooke Eleanor Firth