Get to know our legal experts: Debra Lawler

Title:  Chartered Legal Executive

Area of Law: Wills, Trusts & Probate

Specialisms:  I specialise in advising clients on administration of estates to include intestate estates (where there is no valid Will).

I also handle the preparation of inland revenue accounts, calculating and dealing with inheritance tax and the preparation of estate accounts.

Other aspects include advising on Deeds of Variation, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Why did you decide on a career in law?

At the age of 17, I went to work for a Coroner and Solicitor in South Shields who saw my potential and encouraged me to study for and take the exams to become a Chartered Legal Executive.

Why did you choose your area of law?

Estate administration and the structure of wills and estates has always held a particular interest for me.

What does your role involve?

I joined Richard Reed in 2017 after working for a large law firm in Newcastle for 30 years.

As a member of the Wills, Trusts & Probate team, I guide clients through the complicated process of probate law.

Meeting my clients and helping them through what can be a very vulnerable time in their lives due to the loss of a loved one is an extremely important part of my role.

What would you reform or change about your area of law?

I would like to see it become mandatory for Wills to be registered in a central place.

Currently there are options (such as Certainty) but they are not mandatory which means there are still so many cases where Wills cannot be located.  This leads to uncertainty for families and/or friends left behind, something that their deceased loved one would have definitely not wanted.

Going on from there, I believe all adults should have a Will particularly where property is owned.

What is your most rewarding case?

I was asked by one of my clients to take instructions from a family member who was in hospital. Unfortunately, they didn’t have long left to live but I was able to prepare a Will for them at their bedside and made sure it was signed and witnessed.

This was of course a really sad time but by putting his Will in place for him meant that his estate could be handled in accordance with his wishes and gave his family the certainty and peace of mind they needed.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself...

My maiden name is Devine and I practised for many years under that name – Devine by name, devine by nature!

To speak with Debra or another member of our Wills, Trusts & Probate team, call us today on 0191 567 0465 or email us at: [email protected]

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