James Beresford, partner and estate planning specialist at insurance and commercial risk law firm, BLM has been elected as the North East non-council member representative of STEP for England and Wales, the global professional association for practitioners specialising in family inheritance and succession planning. James’ three-year term is due to commence in January 2019.
Founded in 1991, and with more than 20,000 members, STEP is widely recognised by employers, policymakers and the public. STEP’s primary purpose is to improve public understanding of the issues families face in relation to inheritance and succession planning and promote education and high professional standards amongst its members. The organisation has a leading role in explaining its members’ views and expertise to governments, tax authorities, regulators and the public, examining the likely impact of any proposed changes such as reviews of Inheritance Tax and probate fees. Through his role on the committee, James will promote STEP’s best practice, professional integrity and educational programmes to its members whilst continuing to be an advocate of STEP’s Code of Professional Conduct.
Commenting on the successful election results, James said: “As an active member of the association since 2010, I have experienced the challenges STEP practitioners face that include ensuring members of the public receive correct advice in respect of their wills and estate planning in an unregulated sector.
“My diverse experience of different operational markets from high street to national level, allows me to bring a much needed balance in the interest of private client practitioners across large and small firms. I am honoured to be elected to this position and eager to work with STEP to offer solutions that help overcome these issues and support the industry and our members by implementing the values and standards of STEP.”
James heads up the BLM Private Wealth team and specialises in dealing with the administration of complex estates including advising clients on estate planning matters such as the drafting of Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. He is a wealth preservation specialist and assists clients with inheritance tax planning and business owners on succession planning.
The private wealth team has recently expanded with the appointments of Wednesday Jones and Charlotte Pritchard.
Charlotte specialises in the administration and taxation of trusts and estates. She is also an active member of the STEP Manchester committee and is currently studying towards qualification for the highly regarded STEP Diploma in the administration and taxation of trusts and estates.
Fellow STEP member Wednesday has over 10 years’ experience in Wills & Probate matters particularly across complex matrimonial affairs, tracing missing beneficiaries and the administration of complex estates where there are unknown beneficiaries or missing wills.
Wednesday has a special interest in dealing with the elderly and d/Deaf clients* and is currently studying to become a British Sign Language interpreter in order to facilitate access to justice for d/Deaf clients. In addition to wills experience, she is also a non-practising Licensed Conveyancer, having qualified in 2012.
James added: “Charlotte and Wednesday have joined the BLM private wealth team at a pivotal time. Their combined experience puts us in a very strong position to continue growing the practice through our clear-cut business values and client-centric service delivery. I look forward to see the positive effect of both appointments for the firm and for the industry as a whole through our STEP responsibilities.”
BLM diversified its offering with the creation of the Commercial Advisory and Private Wealth practice in October 2017 aimed at enhancing its insurance and risk legal services in the UK and internationally. The addition of a Commercial Advisory and Private Wealth practice enables the firm to deliver in-depth knowledge from an experienced law firm, with the added energy and agility of a modern business. For more information on BLM’s expertise, click here.