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How can we help? A guide to services for you

Operating from our Lancashire offices (Preston, Blackpool & The Fylde and Blackburn), our Cumbria offices in Penrith and Kendal and our office in Southport, we offer a professional and approachable service to assist with a wide range of personal legal issues.

Starting out

If you are buying your first home and need assistance with conveyancing, our dedicated Residential Property team are on hand to guide you through the process. Check out our Guide to Conveyancing for more information on how the process works. We can also assist with co-habitation agreements if you’re buying with another person, and also pension and investment advice when you start on the career ladder.

Family life

If you are planning to get married, there are a number of different services we can assist with – pre-nuptial agreements, writing of a new Will (or amending an existing one) and wealth management advice. Have a look at our fixed fee services for clarity on costs.

Children leaving home

With your family growing up and leaving home, you may be looking to downsize your property or review your finances. It may also be the right time to review your parent’s care – you may find our page on Lasting Powers of Attorney useful.

Relationship breakdown

The breakdown of a relationship can be difficult on all those involved. Our Family team can help with separation agreements, child arrangements, and alternatives to court proceedings such as collaboration and arbitration. They will also be able to assist with the financial implications of divorce and distribution of assets.

Marrying again?

If you are making a fresh start with a new relationship, it may be time to review your plans and assess what you already have in place. We can help with pre-nuptial agreements, rewriting of a Will, and also sale and purchase of property. Napthens Wealth Management deals with succession planning for business owners and overall financial advice.

Planning for later years

Our Wills and Estate Planning team can assist with planning for future care, including a Letter of Wishes to be kept with your Will. We can also help you make arrangements for dealing with the loss of physical and mental capacity, ensuring that you are well looked after in accordance with your wishes in your later years.

Dealing with bereavement

Ease the burden of losing a loved one with the assistance of one of our specially trained professionals. Our Probate team can deal with obtaining a grant of probate, distributing assets and if there is disagreement over an estate, our specialists are on hand to assist with Inheritance and Will disputes.

For a no-obligation discussion, please call 03456710276 or click the make an enquiry button below.

  • Articles & News
  • FAQs
  • Legal Glossary

Can someone dispute my Will?
A close relative (spouse, former spouse, child or grandchild) can contest a Will if they have been omitted or believe they are entitled to more of your estate. The Court may redistribute an estate accordingly if they feel any of the above were omitted unintentionally. A Will can also be contested if there is proof that the Will writer was of unsound mind when making a Will, or that the Will has been forged or tampered with. It is very important to make sure your Will is not ambiguous and that your wishes are clear and concise, in order to avoid potential dispute.

Do I need Grant of Probate?
If the deceased has left a Will, a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry may be required. This is to confirm the named Executors’ authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets, particularly if there is a property involved. If there is no will then the deceased’s next of kin may need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration to enable them to finalise affairs.

How long is my claim likely to take?
This depends upon the extent of your injuries and whether liability for the accident is admitted or denied by the defendant. Straightforward cases can usually be dealt with quite quickly but in cases of more serious injury, or where there is a dispute, the case will take longer. We aim to ensure your claim is concluded as speedily as possible and we will keep you informed of progress every step of the way.

How much compensation am I likely to receive, and how is this worked out?
Compensation for injuries depends very much on the medical evidence obtained. We work with the appropriate medical and other specialists to evaluate your claim which is assessed in the light of previous cases decided by the courts. Compensation for injuries is entirely separate from claims for other losses e.g. loss of earnings etc which are claimed in addition.

I already have a Will – will I ever have to change it?
You should think about reviewing your Will every time your circumstances change, or at every ‘life event’. For example, if you buy a home for the first time, have children, get married or divorced, if your personal finances change or if one of the main beneficiaries of your Will has passed away.

I am a first time buyer looking to purchase a house. The particulars say there is a ‘chain’. What does this mean?
As a first time buyer, you are essentially at the bottom of the chain as you do not have a property to sell. A chain means that your seller is also buying a property, and it would be sensible to check with the estate agents whether the owner of that property is in turn buying onwards. This way, you get an idea of how many ‘links’ there are in the chain and how many parties need to co-ordinate the various sale and purchase transactions to work towards a mutually achievable exchange and completion date.

I am building an extension to add value to my property before I eventually sell. Is there anything I need to consider?
When undertaking any work of this kind, it is important to keep copies of all relevant certificates, as these will be required when you come to sell your property. These include copies of any planning permission and building regulations approval and completion certificates, guarantees and service agreements for your gas and electrical installations, and a copy of the landlord’s consent if the property is leasehold. Of course, before commencing any work, it is important to really consider how much value will be added to your house, and it may be worth having a survey conducted.

I am buying a house. Should I consider having a survey done?
Yes. There are three main options available. The most basic type of survey is a mortgage valuation, which your lender will require if you are planning on obtaining a mortgage. If you are buying a relatively new property, it may be satisfactory but it will not give a particularly in depth report. This report is done on behalf of the lender and the buyer may not be able to rely upon it if it is incorrect. The next option is to have a Homebuyer’s Report and Valuation conducted. This will give you a greater degree of insight into the state and condition of the property, but will also say what has not been checked (eg the carpets have not been taken up to inspect the floorboards). Finally, you could have a full structural survey. This is the most expensive option but is sensible to consider, especially for high value or older properties, listed buildings or properties in need of serious renovation. Additionally, make sure you have thoroughly inspected the property yourself and don’t solely rely on the estate agents particulars.

I am keen to sell my house as quickly as possible. Is there anything I can do to speed up the process whilst I am trying to find a buyer?
There are several things which can be done up front that could speed the process along once you have a buyer. Arrange the Energy Performance Certificate, which must be done before you market the property. Next, find the deeds to the property, and further documentation such as building regulations and planning documents, guarantees, ground rent receipts and utility bills – having these to hand can save a lot of time in the future. List the contents of your home which could be left at the property (curtains, wardrobes etc) and consider which you would like additional money for and which can be used as a bargaining tool. This is not an exhaustive list, but should go some way towards preparing for a quick sale once a buyer has been found.

I am still in a lot of pain and discomfort but my GP has told me that the waiting list for physiotherapy may take up to 6 months. Can Napthens help?
Yes. Where appropriate, we can quickly arrange private physiotherapy treatment and include the cost as part of your claim.

I am unable to work and my wife has also had to take time off work to look after me. Is there anything that can be done to help?
Yes. It is possible to make a claim for all reasonable losses which can be proved to have been sustained as a result of the accident. This can include your loss of earnings and also your wife’s loss of earnings. In cases like this we would usually include a claim with regard to the cost of care provided.

I bought a dishwasher online with my credit card, but the item has not arrived and the trader has gone into liquidation. Is there anything I can do?
Yes; if you have paid any of the sum on your credit card, you are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and you can make a claim against your credit card company if that single item cost more than £100 (excluding any fees or charges eg delivery). Get in touch with your credit card company in order to make a claim.

I had an accident last year. Is it too late to make a claim?
If you are over 18 and your accident happened in the UK, you generally have three years in which to start your compensation claim. If you are under 18 (or were at the time of the accident) then the three year period starts from your 18th birthday.

I have been injured by an uninsured driver – is there anything I can do?
You may be able to claim compensation, although it is slightly more complex than dealing with an insurance company. The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) is an organisation set up to help compensate the victims of uninsured motorists or untraced drivers eg hit and run, or where the driver gave false details at the scene of the accident. The MIB effectively allows you to claim as if the driver was insured. As with all road traffic accidents, you should report the incident to the police and seek medical assistance where necessary.

I have been told I will need to do ‘searches’ before buying a property. What does this mean and what do they include?
There are various searches you can undertake before buying a property which your mortgage lender may require. Searches include: Local Search – gives information about the local area, including any planning entries, tree preservation orders, adopted roads etc. Water & Drainage Search – shows the location of sewers, drains and pipes and whether or not they are adopted. Mining Search – if the area has a previous or current mining history then this search highlights any likelihood of mine shafts in the area. Envirosearch – shows if the property may stand on an area of seriously contaminated land, flooding, landslip or subsidence as well as showing any land fill sites nearby. Chancel Repair Liability Search – shows if you may be liable to fund repairs to your local church, and if there is a potential responsibility, an insurance policy can be taken out to protect against this. Subject to the location of the property, additional searches such as Mining, Tin and Brine Searches may also be recommended.

I have bought an expensive new stereo system which has stopped working! What are my rights?
The first point of call is to contact the seller and discuss your options. You do have certain rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which state that items need to be fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time. Obviously, ‘reasonable’ is a matter of interpretation, but you may have a potential claim if they refuse to offer a repair or replacement. Of course, do remember to keep your receipt and copies of any guarantees as a record of the transaction.

I have had a bad back for some years, but this has been much worse since I fell over a raised manhole cover. I will need an operation and as I am no longer able to work I am suffering financially. As I had a bad back already does this mean that I cannot claim compensation?
If your accident can be proven to be the fault of the local authority responsible for the manhole cover, then a claim for compensation can be made for the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident. From what you say it does appear that the accident has certainly aggravated your previous symptoms, making an operation necessary. In this case you should be compensated accordingly.

I have just bought a property abroad – does my existing Will cover this?
If you buy a property abroad, it is essential to ensure that an appropriate Will is put in place to avoid future complications and legal fees, as in many countries the rules on distribution of estates is different from the UK.

I have lived with my partner for years, but we are not married. What will happen if I die without making a Will?
If you are unmarried but die without making a Will, your partner will not automatically be entitled to anything from your estate. Generally, your entire estate will pass to your children or, if you have no children, to your blood relatives. It is therefore important to make a Will that reflects your wishes.

I have worked for all of our married life, whilst my partner stayed at home to raise our children. As a result, I have a considerable pension fund and my spouse does not. Now that we are separating, will my partner be entitled to a share of my pension?
Pensions are considered as part of the assets of the marriage. A pension will either be dealt with by way of a Pension Sharing Order which would mean that the pension would be divided into two separate pension pots. Alternatively, your spouse may be awarded more of the available capital to compensate for the loss of entitlement to your pension.

I hired a plumber to fix my central heating. The boiler worked for a week and then stopped working again. He is refusing to come back and complete the repair and has told me he will take me to court if I do not settle his invoice. What can I do?
The first step would be to contact the plumber, preferably in writing, advising why you are disputing the invoice. Given that he did do some work, it is probably reasonable to make some offer of payment, but perhaps suggest that you withhold payment of the full amount until he has completed the work to your satisfaction. If you are unable to come to a compromise, you have various options available, including mediation or a potential litigation claim.

I suffered serious injury in a car accident when travelling as a passenger in my sister’s car. Although my sister was responsible for the accident I don’t want to claim against her. What should I do?
Any claim of this type will be dealt with by your sister’s motor insurers and so the claim may not really involve your sister at all. Bearing in mind that you have suffered serious injury through an accident which was not your fault, you should certainly take legal advice and find out more about pursuing a claim.

I want to ask my spouse for a divorce. On what grounds can I do this?
If you have been separated for less than two years, a divorce would either have to be on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. If you have been separated for more than two years, you can petition on the basis that you have been separated for two years and that both parties consent to the divorce. Should you have been separated for more than five years, you can petition on this basis and will not require the consent of your spouse.

My husband has died and his Will leaves everything to me. Our house is in his sole name. Do I need a Grant?
To be able to transfer the house into your name you need the authority of a Grant of Probate. It is better to do this now, as if you ever decide to move or need to sell the house to fund residential care, you won’t be able to do this if the house is not in your name.

My husband left a lot of debt. Do those debts die with him?
Any debts will have to be cleared from assets in your husband’s sole name and in some cases creditors will apply to have assets in joint names used as well to clear their account.

My injuries are severe and I am unable to work and support my family. Is there anything that can be done to help me now?
Yes. It is possible to request an interim payment from the defendants’ insurers in cases where liability for the accident is admitted and where there is evidence available to confirm at least the losses incurred to date.

My motor insurers have said I must use their panel solicitors if I want to make a claim. I am not happy with this, but do I have any choice?
You do have a choice. Insurers often insist upon panel solicitors being used under a legal expenses policy but this is certainly something we suggest you discuss with us. There may be another way of dealing with your case, particularly if the accident circumstances are straightforward and liability is admitted.

My neighbour has moved a fence which now encroaches on my land. What can I do?
The first thing would be to check the Title Deeds and plans of the property to make sure they have actually encroached on your land – it could be that they are simply reclaiming their own land. If they have encroached and you are on good terms with your neighbour, try negotiating with them to resolve the matter with them amicably. Failing that, it may be possible to deal with the matter more formally, with mediation or litigation action.

My neighbour regularly plays loud music well into the night, which is keeping myself and my small children awake. They continue to do so, despite my requests for them to stop. Is there anything I can do?
This depends on the situation. For example, if they rent the house (particularly if they are a council tenant), they will have to abide by certain terms in their tenancy agreement which may be easy to enforce. However, even if they are the home owner they still have a duty to keep reasonably quiet between the hours of 11pm – 7am. Keep a diary of the incidents and report the matter to your Local Authority so that they have a record in order to investigate your complaints.

My partner and I are buying our first house but have been told there are two different ways of owning a property. What are our options?
When you buy a property jointly with someone else, it can be held as ‘Joint Tenants’ or ‘Tenants in Common’. In a joint tenancy you will each own the property together and, if one owner dies, their share of the property automatically transfers to the other owner, even if a Will has not been made or says something different. It is common for married couples to buy as joint tenants. With Tenants in Common, each party owns a ‘share’ of the property, usually as a 50/50 spilt (although it is possible to have more than two owners or an uneven split). This means that should one owner die, their share of the property is passed on to whoever is specified in their Will, which is not necessarily the other owner. Co-owners who are not married or who have contributed unequally to the price of the property may buy as tenants in common. In this case, it is very important that co-owners make Wills.

My partner and I are separating. How will our assets be divided?
Your assets will be divided by agreement if you are able to reach a settlement. If not, the court will be asked to decide, and when reaching a decision they will consider the needs of any children, the duration of the marriage, the income of both spouses and their earning capacity, the ages of both parties and the contribution each has made to the assets. Both spouses will be expected to fully disclose their financial circumstances to each other.

My partner and I have decided to get married and it has been suggested that we should get a ‘pre-nup’. What is this and do we need one?
A pre-nuptial agreement records how you agree to divide the assets in the event that the marriage should break down. It is important to seek legal advice about the benefits of a pre-nuptial agreement and to ensure that the agreement is to be binding. Pre-nuptial agreements may be particularly beneficial to couples that have been married before and may wish to protect their assets for their children, or for couples that have received significant sums by way of inheritance.

My son and daughter-in-law have got divorced and the children are going to live with her. How can we make sure we will still get to see our grandchildren?
Grandparents may seek contact with their grandchildren through the courts although, first they must try to reach agreement through mediation.  If no agreement is reached then they require the court’s permission to make an application.

My spouse and I have separated and I want to issue divorce proceedings. What is involved in the process and how long will it take?
Divorce proceedings will usually take approximately 6 months from issuing your petition to Decree Absolute being pronounced. When the proceedings are issued your partner will receive a copy of the petition from the Court and an acknowledgement of service form which they must complete and return. When your partner returns the acknowledgement of service form it will be necessary for your solicitor to prepare a statement on your behalf. Your solicitor will then be in a position to ask the Court to fix a date for your Decree Nisi to be pronounced. Once your Decree Nisi has been pronounced you must wait six weeks and 1 day before applying to the Court for Decree Absolute to be pronounced. When your Decree Absolute is pronounced your marriage is dissolved.

My spouse has told me they want a divorce. What will happen to the children?
When a couple separates, the court would not become involved in the arrangements for children unless there was a dispute. If you and your former partner are not able to agree on arrangements for the children, such as where they will live and how regularly they will see your former partner, then the case will first be referred to mediation.  If an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, then the court may be asked to make an order. The court will base its decision on what is in the children’s best interests and may also seek the children’s views, depending on their age.

My spouse is divorcing me. Will we have to sell the house?
This very much depends on the value of the house and any mortgage secured against it. The court’s primary concern when deciding whether a property should be sold will be the needs of any dependent children. If a sale of the property would result in it not being possible to adequately re-house you and the children, then it is unlikely that the property would be sold whilst the children remain in education.

My wife has died without leaving a Will. What do I do now?
Where a person dies without leaving a Will and has assets in their sole name worth over £20,000 it will be necessary to obtain a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ to be able to deal with those assets. A spouse does not automatically inherit the whole of those assets.

My young son suffered a nasty injury when taking part in activities at the local leisure centre. It seems that there was no real supervision. Can I make a claim for compensation for him?
Yes. A claim for compensation can be made if it can be demonstrated that the leisure centre staff failed to provide appropriate supervision and take appropriate care to ensure your son’s safety. You should certainly speak to a legal specialist who can advise you on how to make a claim.

What are my duties and responsibilities as Executor/Administrator?
Your duty is to deal with the estate efficiently and cost effectively and always with the best interests of the beneficiaries in mind. If there is a Will you must gather in the assets, pay all debts, settle tax issues and distribute the estate in accordance with the Will. If there is no Will the same responsibilities apply but the rules of intestacy will apply to distribution of the estate. If you decide to deal with the estate yourself then you are personally responsible for any problems or complaints from beneficiaries or other interested parties. If you instruct Solicitors then it is the responsibility of those Solicitors to deal with any such problems or complaints.

What happens if I get married or divorced?
If you get married, any existing Will automatically becomes invalid, so you and your partner should both make new Wills if you are planning to marry. However, if you divorce or separate from your spouse the provisions of your Will are not affected. It is therefore important to review your Will following a divorce or separation to reflect your new wishes.

What will happen if I die without a Will?
If you die without making a Will you will be ‘intestate’ and the law will automatically determine how your property is distributed and who administers your affairs after death. This may not necessarily be in a way you would have wanted. Generally the bulk of your estate will go to your spouse or your children. If you are unmarried and have no children, your estate will pass to your blood relatives or, in some cases, to the Crown.

Why do I need a Grant of Probate when there is a Will and I am the Executor named in the Will?
If the value of assets in the sole name of the deceased is less than £20,000 then it is normally not necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate. If the value of assets exceeds £20,000 then a Grant of Probate will authorise the Executors to gather in and distribute these assets. No financial institution will accept any instructions regarding accounts with a balance of over £20,000 without the authority of a Grant. Similarly it will not be possible to sell or transfer any house or land in the sole name of the deceased without the authority of a Grant.

Why should I make a Will?
Making and reviewing a Will should be a priority for most people, as it enables you to say exactly how you wish your estate to be distributed after your death. It is particularly important when considering any major personal and financial decisions, such as buying a house or setting up a business, or a change in personal circumstances through marriage, starting a family or divorce. Careful planning when making a Will can also minimise the effects of inheritance tax.

Administrator

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Applicant

Attachment of Earnings

Bailiff

Bankruptcy

Beneficiary

CAFCASS

Chancel Repair Liability

Charging Order

Child Arrangements Order

Civil Partnership

Claim

Codicil

Cohabitation Agreement

Completion date

Consent Order

Contact Order

Contract

Contributory Negligence

Counterclaim

County Court Judgment (CCJ)

Court of Protection

Creditor

Damages

Damages

Debtor

Decree Absolute

Decree Nisi

Deeds / Title Deeds

Default Judgment

Defended Claim

Deposit

Dispute

Enforcement

Estate

Exchange (of contracts)

Executor

Expert Witness

Financial application

Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR)

First Directions Appointment (FDA)

Fixtures & Fittings

Fixtures, Fittings & Contents Form

Form E

Freehold

Grant of Probate

Ground Rent

Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Injunction

Insolvency

Insured losses

Interim order

Intestate

Joint Tenants

Land Registry

Lasting Power of Attorney

Leasehold

Legacy / Bequest

Letter Before Action

Limitation Deadline

Liquidation

Maintenance

Mediation

Mediation

Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)

Negligence

Personal Guarantee

Petition (for divorce)

Petitioner (Divorce)

Pre Nuptial Agreement

Probate

Prohibited Steps Order

Property Information Form / Preliminary Enquiries

Registration of Title

Repossession

Residence Order

Respondent (Divorce)

Searches

Separation Agreement

Settlement

Sheriff

Slander

Specific Issue Order

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Statutory Demand

Survey

Tenants in Common

Testator

Third Party Debt Orders

Transfer Deed

Trust

Uninsured losses

Will

Winding Up

Without Prejudice

Witness (Will)

  • Adam Bradshaw
    Residential Property
  • Alex Colton
    Residential Property
  • Amanda Brown
    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Amy Leslie
    Residential Property
  • Andrew Holden
    Litigation
  • Ann Hallmark
    Family & Divorce
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    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Anthony Terry
    IT
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    Residential Property
  • Charlotte Cooper
    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Charlotte Rumsey
    Wills & Estate Planning
  • David Bailey
    Commercial Property Litigation
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    Wealth Management
  • Debbie Robinson
    Residential Property
  • Diane Lang
    Napthens Wealth Management
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    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Georgina Smith
    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Helen Clutterbuck
    Litigation
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    Residential Property
  • Helen Lucking
    Head of Family & Divorce
  • Hope Carter
    Residential Property
  • James Allison
    Head of Real Estate Division
  • James Todhunter
  • Jane Riley
    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Residential Property
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    Residential Property
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    Residential Property
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    Residential Property
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    Residential Property
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    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Napthens Wealth Management
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    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Residential Property
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    Residential Property
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    Head of Wills & Estate Planning
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    Head of Commercial Division
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    Litigation
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    Residential Property
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    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Family & Divorce
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    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Rural
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    Wealth Management
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    Litigation
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    Residential Property
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    Wealth Management
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    Residential Property
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    Residential Property
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    Napthens Wealth Management
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    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Risk and Compliance
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    Litigation
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    Residential Property
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    Head of Residential Property
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    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Sharon McDonald
    Family & Divorce
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    Residential Property
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    Finance
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    Litigation
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    Head of Private Client Division
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    Napthens Wealth Management
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    Litigation
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    Tax Specialist
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    Litigation
  • Susan Thurston
    Residential Property
  • Teresa Deeney
    Marketing
  • Terry Griffin
    Head of Personal Injury
  • Uzma Begum
    Residential Property
  • Victoria Cross
    Wills & Estate Planning
  • Victoria Marsh
    Wills & Estate Planning
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    Litigation
  • Zara Zaman
    Residential Property
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