Private Client

Whether you need advice in respect of succession planning, your will or lasting powers of attorney, or assistance with estate administration on someone’s death we will work with you.

How We Work

Your circumstances are unique, we recognise this and offer advice tailored to your needs. We help to establish the best structures to protect and pass on wealth. Forward planning today will protect you and your family in the future.

We offer a sensitive and practical approach to the matters we deal with and give specialist advice with a view to protecting family wealth.

You may save your loved ones a good deal of trouble by planning in advance. Therefore, we encourage our clients to put a Will in place as early as possible to ensure your estate passes to those whom you wish to benefit.

We help to establish the best structures to protect, grow and pass on wealth. Our private client team deal with administration of estates, lasting powers of attorney, trusts and matters relating to elderly and vulnerable clients.

Our Vision, Our Mission

Affordable Legal Help with a Team You Can Trust

Service Areas

  • Making a Will

    Whilst it is not a pleasant thought, it is a fact of life that we are all going to die eventually. We will assist you in formalising your wishes in the event of your death and help your family cope with the stress and problems associated with bereavement.

    Writing a will is the only way to ensure your loved ones are looked after in the way you want. Leaving loose ends after you die may result in loved ones becoming involved with complex legal issues at a distressing time. As a result, your assets (including your home and its contents, personal items, money, shares etc.) may not be inherited according to your wishes and your estate may be reduced significantly by Inheritance Tax.

    The writing of a will ensures that your estate passes to those whom you wish to benefit. A carefully prepared will can mitigate inheritance tax and safeguard family assets for future generations and therefore is an essential tool in arranging your affairs.

    We can also advise you on the validity of existing wills and assist you in preparing new wills. We encourage you to review your will regularly – tax laws change, as do family circumstances, and it is important to keep a will up to date.

    In addition, we will also advise you on the impact of Inheritance Tax making use of exemptions, reliefs and allowances or take measures to reduce the risk of possible claims against your estate and, if appropriate, on family trusts. We can also advise you regarding other arrangements, such as appointing trustees and executors, or guardians to care for children.

  • Probate & Estate Administration

    At Blackhams, our probate solicitors have extensive experience in preparing Wills and specialise in administering estates including post-death Inheritance Tax planning by the use of a Deed of Variation.

    When anyone dies, somebody has to deal with their estate – the money, property and any possessions they had at the time of their death. If there is a will the estate will pass to the people named in the will. If there is no will rules laid down in Parliament, known as the Rules of Intestacy will apply.

    We have extensive experience in administering estates including post-death Inheritance Tax planning. Our dedicated and experienced team administer estates with sympathy and efficiency enabling us quickly to identify and to resolve any potential problems and minimise the expense and stress involved.

    Even a small estate can involve considerable responsibility and paperwork. The paperwork can be substantial and the process time-consuming. We are here to help and can assist you throughout all or part of the process and may be able to identify tax planning opportunities.

    We can help at all levels, including

    • Registering the death
    • Helping you to make funeral arrangements
    • Organising payment of Inheritance Tax
    • Obtaining a Grant of Representation
    • Dealing with assets and liabilities
    • Assisting with tax claims and returns to the Inland Revenue

    Some estates will require special consideration to ensure that the estate is dealt with in as tax-efficient a way as possible. We have experience in winding up estates with a range of net values, from modest levels to those with millions of pounds. No estate is too small, and all require a personal, professional and structured service; and at Blackhams they all get the same. This ensures that our clients are informed as to progress at all times.

    Blackhams have a dedicated team of specialists who deal with all the formalities required in obtaining Probate and administering estates, dealing with estates both large and small.

  • Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)

    We must face up to the possibility of future events that may be unwelcome. This includes the possibility of becoming unable to make decisions for us due to physical or mental incapacity, whether brought on by an accident, illness, or old age.

    What would happen if you lost capacity through illness or through a sudden injury? How would your bills be paid? Who would decide what medical treatment you will have?

    By making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) you can give someone (your Attorney) you know and trust your express authority to deal with your affairs if you are unable to do this yourself. An LPA cannot be used until it has been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. It can cover either your financial affairs, or decisions that may need to be made about your personal welfare (e.g. medical treatment, care and so on) or both. Making an LPA is sensible planning.

    What if I do not have an LPA and need help in the future?

    If you do not have an LPA and become unable to deal with your own affairs due to a loss of mental capacity, the process of appointing someone to stand in your place (and be your Court-appointed Deputy) can be cumbersome and costly.

    There may be a period where no one is officially appointed to assist you, during which time anyone trying to assist on your behalf will be doing so without the appropriate authority. This could create difficulty and distress for you and your family. Appointing an Attorney under an LPA is much less expensive and gives you and your family peace of mind for the future.

    There are two types of LPA.

    Property and Affairs LPA

    Enables an attorney to make decisions about the Donor’s property and financial affairs. These might include:

    • Buying or selling property
    • Operating a bank or building society account
    • Managing Investments
    • Claiming benefits
    • Paying household expenses
    • Paying residential or nursing home fees.

    Health and Welfare LPA

    Allows an attorney to make decisions about the Donor’s personal welfare if the time comes where they are unable to make decisions for themselves. These decisions may be about:

    • Where the Donor lives
    • The Donor’s daily care
    • Arranging for dental treatment
    • Consenting to or refusing medical treatment
    • Access to the Donor’s medical records
    • Overseeing medical and mental assessments.

    An LPA is therefore a very important part of planning for the future. The time may come when we need a helping hand to make those decisions that were once commonplace. Having an LPA in place makes that process so much easier and less stressful.

  • Court of Protection

    If someone loses their mental capacity and becomes unable to make decisions, but has not made a Lasting Power of Attorney, it may be necessary for a Deputy to be appointed by the Court of Protection.

    The Deputy appointed by the Court will then have the necessary powers to act on behalf of the person concerned. The Court will issue an Order setting out the extent of the Deputy’s powers. The powers may relate to financial matters or personal welfare issues. The powers granted will depend upon the needs of the person concerned.

    The Court of Protection is responsible for

    • Deciding if an individual has the mental capacity to make a decision for themselves
    • Appointing a Deputy, usually a member of the family if willing to take this on to deal with matters on behalf of the individual who lacks mental capacity
    • Giving permission to people to make one-off decisions on behalf of a person who lacks mental capacity
    • Making decisions on Lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney

    We can advise you on all aspects of Court of Protection applications and prepare the necessary application papers on your behalf.

  • Trusts

    Trusts have been used for centuries for inheritance planning and wealth protection.

    We advise on the right type of trust for you, set up the trust and help you to manage a trust. We can guide you through the various tax rules affecting trusts. We can, and frequently do, act as trustees alone, or with family members.

    The approach of families to these issues has changed over time but the trust is still a valuable tool.

    Specific issues such as the protection of vulnerable or under-age family members can be addressed by appropriately structured trusts.

    The management of trusts – the responsibility of the trustees – can be daunting, but we are here to make life as easy as possible for you. We can help you to agree a suitable investment policy with your investment manager, we can guide you through the various tax rules affecting trusts. We can, and frequently do, act as trustees ourselves.

    Trusts are set up for a number of purposes, including

    • To control and protect family assets
    • When someone is too young to handle their affairs and protecting assets for younger beneficiaries
    • To provide for vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries
    • To pass on assets while you’re still alive to mitigate in particular Inheritance Tax
    • To ring fence assets such as the family home so it is not taken into account in means tested benefit when an elderly surviving spouse requires full time nursing care

    We can

    • Advise on the right type of trust for you
    • Set up trusts
    • Help you to manage a trust
    • Act as trustees (with family members or alone)
  • Estate & Inheritance Tax Planning

    At Blackhams, we understand that the issue of inheritance tax is important to you, which is why we work closely with you to ensure every detail is carefully considered and planned to minimise the liability on your estate.

    The team at Blackhams will work closely with you to understand your personal circumstances and from this they will ascertain whether steps can be taken to reduce your estate’s liability. We understand that no two clients or situations are the same, therefore our Inheritance Tax advice is tailored and personalised to you and your situation. We take the time to understand what it is you need from us and the outcome you desire and we strive to make this possible.

    By sensible Inheritance Tax planning, the amount payable can be greatly reduced. This is often done by careful use of various reliefs and exemptions available which are often less straightforward than they might seem at first sight. Early planning is beneficial.

    Blackhams Estate and Inheritance Tax Planning services
    Some of the areas in which we can provide professional advice include:

    • General estate planning and making the most of Inheritance Tax reliefs
    • Domicile
    • Lifetime Gifts
    • Negotiations with HMRC
    • Creating trusts as a structure for maintaining family wealth
    • Post-death tax planning and deeds of variation
    • Transferable Nil Rate Bands

    It is impossible to know what life has in store for you or what is waiting around the corner, which means it is never too early to start thinking about estate and inheritance tax planning. All you can do to create some certainty about the future is to plan ahead and take measures to protect those you love, just in case you are suddenly taken from them. To start planning for tomorrow, call or email a member of our team, who will be happy to discuss what you need and answer any questions you might have.

Private Client Team

Senior Partner

Timothy Cuthbertson

Probate Clerk, Private Client Department

Cherie Williams

Robert Pannifer
Solicitor - Head of Private Client

Robert Pannifer

Senior Partner

Timothy Cuthbertson

After graduating from University College, London in 1974, Tim took his Law Society exams at the College of Law in London in 1975 before joining his father in the family firm, Bradley & Cuthbertson, to complete his training, qualifying in 1977 and becoming a partner in that firm shortly thereafter.
He became a partner in Blackhams when the two firms merged in 2003 and Senior Partner in 2010.

From a broad base of general practice Tim has more recently concentrated his efforts on aspects of private client work including wills and inheritance tax planning, trusts. In particular, Tim works with vulnerable adults advising on Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection matters, including overseeing the financial affairs of clients as Attorney or Deputy.

Tim is a regular if inexpert skier and enjoys choral singing. Outside interests include membership of several boards of charity trustees, among them currently Lench’s Trust, The Solicitors Benevolent Association and Birmingham Diocesan Trustees all of which he has at different times chaired, and various other voluntary bodies.

Probate Clerk, Private Client Department

Cherie Williams

Cherie has worked in the probate department for the last 12 years, previously at Allsopp & Co in Solihull before moving to Birmingham to join the larger Probate Department working closely with Haroon Qayum.

It is a role that she enjoys immensely, finding the time to help clients at a difficult and vulnerable time of their lives.

Cherie is always approachable with any query and prides herself on building a rapport with clients to ensure the sure that the administration of an estate is finalised as quickly as possible for clients.

Outside of work Cherie enjoys arts and crafts and makes her own greetings cards for all occasions. She also enjoys spending time with her two grown up sons as well as family and friends.

Solicitor - Head of Private Client

Robert Pannifer

Robert Pannifer is a Solicitor and the Head of the Private Client department.

Robert qualified as a Solicitor in 1995 and specialises in Private Client law – Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Estate Administration and Court of Protection matters.

Robert is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) an organisation dedicated to ensuring through its members effective and up to date advice to elderly and vulnerable people.

Outside the office Robert is a member of the Knowle & Dorridge Rotary Club and a keen cricket follower.

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