Howes Percival has expanded its Northampton and Milton Keynes private client teams over the past 12 months following strong demand for its family law and private wealth planning services.
The leading law firm has experienced a boom in pre-nuptial arrangements triggered by an increasing number of individuals concerned about wealth preservation. Rising property values over the past couple of years have also moved many clients into the inheritance tax bracket, which has led to more clients seeking advice on how to preserve and protect their wealth for the future.
Howes Percival, which has a reputation for dealing with top-quality, highly complex work for clients, is seeing strong growth in new instructions – often involving substantial and complex estates.
The firm provides a fully integrated, comprehensive service for high-net-worth individuals and family businesses. Across the firm, specialist legal experts work closely to advise clients on all aspects of relationships and family matters, including those relating to children, property, family and farming businesses, estates, wills, probate, trusts and tax.
Experienced litigator Jennifer Laskey joined Howes Percival’s Contentious Trust and Probate team in November 2021 as a Director specialising in dispute resolution. With over 20 years’ experience, Jennifer is qualified as a full member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists and specialises in advising clients in will disputes, claims against estates, challenges to will validity and issues arising from the administration of trusts.
Gemma Evans joined the Family team as a Senior Associate in Northampton in February of this year and has since moved to Howes Percival’s Milton Keynes office to lead the firm’s family services offering in the area. An accredited specialist on the Family Law Panel and a qualified collaborative lawyer, Gemma advises clients in relation to all aspects of family law (divorce, separation, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, financial settlements, co-habitee disputes, domestic injunctions, and arrangements for children).
Senior Associate, Rebecca Littlewood joined the Private Client team in May. Rebecca specialises in assisting clients with succession planning (wills, trusts, probate, powers of attorney and inheritance tax). She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly.
Justine Flack, Partner, and Head of the Family team, said:
“At Howes Percival, we understand the importance of helping clients prepare for the future through estate planning, providing for their loved ones and dealing constructively with family disputes, however they arise.
“Perhaps as a consequence of the pandemic, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of people wanting to get their financial affairs in order. We have a strong reputation for dealing with the more complex family arrangements and assets. We specialise particularly in cases involving high-net-worth individuals, complex families and the divorces that come out of them.
“Earlier this year, the introduction of no-fault divorce created the biggest shake-up of divorce laws in England and Wales for nearly 50 years. No-fault divorce presents a shift away from blame and it is hoped that this will lead to separating parties working together co-operatively. Gemma, along with other members of the Family team, is collaboratively qualified (allowing parties to seek a settlement without going to court) and so this is something we are pleased to be able to offer to clients. Another expected change in family law is a move towards greater transparency in the family courts. As this gains momentum, we expect the number of collaborative divorces to increase as parties seek to keep their affairs private by avoiding the use of courts.
“We have also found that pre-nups are becoming more mainstream as sensible financial planning by couples wishing to protect assets such as pre-acquired wealth, business interests, property and inheritance. Pre-nups shouldn’t be viewed as planning for a divorce – but as a way to avoid costly litigation by planning how you would manage the finances if the worst should happen. People often underestimate the complexity of the document, how long it can take to draft, or the information they will need to provide. So, we always advise couples to plan their pre-nup well ahead of their wedding.”
All Howes Percival’s family lawyers are members of Resolution, a national organisation of professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. While they strive to get the best result for clients by agreement, this is not always possible. The team are also experienced litigators and will represent clients’ interests in court robustly when necessary.
Partner and Head of Private Client, Tom Lawrence, said:
“For most people, their home is their most valuable single asset and the increase in property values over the past couple of years has pushed many into the bracket where inheritance tax is an issue and, understandably, people are looking for clear advice on the ways in which this can be mitigated. Our expert private wealth planning and tax teams are well placed to give advice on the solutions which are available.
“We are also experiencing a growing demand for advice from the next generation of family business owners who view the successful stewardship of the family’s wealth in the longer term as being a key objective. This often requires us to work closely with our family team and other sectors within the firm to deliver the right overall solution for the clients.”
For more information on Howes Percival’s services for individuals, click here