Judge Spotlight: Eleanor Evans

Judge Spotlight: Eleanor Evans

In a series of Supporters in Focus pieces, we are thrilled to introduce our Judges of The British Wills and Probate Awards 2021

Alongside headline sponsor Executor Solutions we look forward to recognising achievement, highlighting progression and championing innovation.

However, the awards couldn’t take place without the hard task of judging and shortlisting the entries. It’s not a task many would take on, but we are extremely grateful to those that have.

Today we profile Eleanor Evans, a new judge to the British Wills and Probate Awards.

We’re delighted to have Eleanor Evans with us for the fourth year of The British Wills & Probate Awards. First of all, tell us who you are and what you do

I am a partner at Hugh James, a top 100 law firm with offices in Cardiff and London. I am Head of our Trusts and Estates Administration Department, a large team dealing with probate, estates and trusts administration on behalf of financial institutions, trust corporations, and individual clients.

What initially sparked your interest in the sector?

I first became interested in wills and probate when I was completing my training contract at Hugh James, having previously thought I wanted to be a corporate lawyer! I spent two seats of my training contract in our busy private client teams, drafting wills and powers of attorney, and dealing with probate and estate administration. I loved the variety of work and the interesting technical issues that arise, and the fact that, as a wills and probate lawyer, you are able to help people during difficult times in their lives.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in the Wills and Probate sector?

I would advise anyone considering a career in the sector to consider completing the STEP (Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners) qualification, which provides essential knowledge on estate and trust administration, tax and accounts. In addition to legal knowledge, it is important that you are well organised, numerate, and have good people skills – in my view, these skills are all key to success in a wills and probate role.

What improvements do you think could be made to the Wills and Probate sector?

I will be interested to see the outcome of the long-awaited Law Commission review of the laws relating to wills, which are ripe for further modernisation. Some of the taxation laws, particularly those relating to inheritance tax, and the taxation of trusts, are also unduly complicated and could be simplified.

As a Judge of the awards, what will you be looking for to identify that winning entry?

I will be looking for firms and people working in the sector who can demonstrate an approach to their work that puts the individual who is receiving the services, before everything else. I am hoping to see entrants that have adopted innovative ways of working to ensure a consistently excellent service.

How important do you think it is to recognise achievement in the sector?

I think it is fantastic to recognise the achievements of people working in the wills and probate sector. Lawyers and professionals in the sector work incredibly hard to achieve good outcomes for the people using their services, and I hear many stories about teams in the sector who work together to raise money for charity or help in their local community. This deserves to be celebrated.

What are the most prominent challenges the industry is facing at the moment?

It would be good to see further improvements to the service delivered by the probate registry, with grants of probate being issued more efficiently to enable personal representatives to finalise the administration of estates. The delays have caused challenges over the past couple of years for probate professionals, personal representatives, and estate beneficiaries.

Thank you to Eleanor for your support for The British Wills & Probate Awards 2021.

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Jennifer van Deursen