Judge Spotlight: Emily Deane TEP

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 Emily Deane, a new judge to the British Wills and Probate Awards.

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

My role is Technical Counsel and I head up the policy team at STEP. I have been a private client lawyer for about fifteen years and I joined STEP five years ago to help inform public policy in relation to trust and estate related issues. STEP’s policy team acts as a key liaison between our membership, committees, stakeholders and government bodies such as HMRC and the Treasury.

What initially sparked your interest in the sector?

I was motivated by the prospect of working closely with families and helping them to plan ahead for momentous life events such as births, marriages, family businesses, retirement and so on.  It was unanticipated but I have been very lucky that my career has involved working in the UK, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and now I help to inform public policy at STEP which is a challenging but incredibly interesting and rewarding role.

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

The private client sector is an ever-changing and expanding industry and it will continue to maintain its relevance due to the vast number of people that live and work abroad now. There will always be families who need advising on tax, succession and estate issues, whether they are low or high net worth individuals. It is a rewarding and diverse area to practise in.

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

I believe it is incredibly important for those who work in the sector to ensure that they continue to learn and keep up to date with ever changing requirements. STEP provides valuable CPD for its members through advanced qualifications, regular webinars and technical updates, and providing an invaluable network to ensure our members stay on top of their game, and are committed to deliver the best service at a time of personal difficulty for their clients.

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

I would say that a good submission addresses all of the specified criteria is of course a must, but to be a winner, it will need to stand out from the rest. I’ll be looking for compelling evidence to back up any assertions, interesting examples, genuine innovation and a focus on maintaining high professional standards at all times.

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

Probate work is challenging, aside from the need to remain focused on technical aspects of the role, a good practitioner will demonstrate a combination of softer skills; empathy, listening, the ability to recognise that each client is an individual with their own needs. Practitioners are often required to identify the unsaid requests and needs of their clients to guide them effectively through the challenges of planning for the future, and later on. Being able to combine all these skills whilst dealing with a busy workload often requires emotional strength, and therefore recognition of the hardwork and dedication of colleagues, in being able to continually learn from and motivate those around them is something to be applauded.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the private client industry with many technical and practical issues this year. The use of digital platforms and remote witnessing will continue to become more prevalent and commonplace and no doubt will continue to bring legislative change that needs to be monitored as we move towards a more digitally modern landscape. We are also experiencing an ageing population that brings with it capacity issues and the need for more rigorous incapacity planning and with that we need to ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place to prevent abuse. The key consideration for the industry is to ensure that the right balance is maintained between the new technological options and the privacy and protection of the families that it advises.

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

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