Wills and Probate

Nobody likes to think about what will happen when they’re gone, but if you die without leaving a Will, your dependants and relatives could be left vulnerable at what will already be a very difficult time.

Many people assume that their possessions will automatically be passed on to their spouses or partners if they have not made a Will, but this is not always the case.

Without a Will, your estate will be shared among your surviving relatives according to the rules of intestacy. However, this means your final wishes may not be carried out, with people you have lost contact with benefiting while those you were closer to could lose out.

The safest way to ensure your loved ones receive what is intended for them is to make a Will and then review it on a regular basis to check that it is up to date and takes into account any changes in legislation, such as inheritance tax law.

If a Will is not up to date and names beneficiaries who have already died, then it could be subject to partial intestacy, meaning those who are still alive could face delays in receiving what they are entitled to. To avoid such problems, it is always best to seek advice from our Wills and probate specialists, who can help you draw up a Will and then review it regularly to ensure it remains up to date. Also registering your Will with Certainty the National Will Register of which we are a member.

Our Wills, probate and tax partner, Frances White, a member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), is an expert in the following areas:

  • Will drafting
  • Wills to benefit people with disabilities
  • Administration of estates and obtaining grants of representation (e.g. probate)
  • Powers of attorney – lasting and general powers
  • Court of Protection applications for incapable persons
  • Matters concerning the elderly
  • Trusts – creation and administration
  • Tax advice
  • Charity matters
  • Foreign wedding declarations

Frances White LLB (Hons)

Partner / Solicitor

01702 348384

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Kathryn Pavitt


Kathryn is an affiliate member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and is a qualified Residential Conveyancing Paralegal. Since joining the firm in 2009 as a secretary, she has attained these qualifications whilst providing support to the Conveyancing and Probate departments, with the ultimate aim of qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive.

Kathryn is a mother to a young child and in her spare time she enjoys cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Val Nunn

Legal Assistant

Val has more than 30 years’ experience working in legal departments, with 25 spent as secretary then PA to Margaret Ridley.

More recently, Val has run her own body of matrimonial cases and following Margaret’s retirement as a partner, continues in this role and also as PA to Peter Fisher and Debbie Stanton.

She has extensive experience of dealing with all aspects of family matters and of assisting with high value and complex financial issues.

As well as her work, Val enjoys spending time with her family, football as a supporter of both Arsenal and Southend United, reading, entertaining and dining out.

Gareth Brazier LLB (Hons)

Associate Solicitor

Gareth qualified as a Solicitor in 2012 and has many years of civil litigation experience, having previously worked in the City of London advising major insurers on a range of issues including road traffic accidents, industrial accidents and the defence of fraudulent claims. He has experience of handling serious and complex injury matters including spinal, traumatic brain injury and amputations.

More recently Gareth has transferred these skills into providing a detailed and thorough service for both private clients and small businesses in property, contract and debt recovery disputes. Where agreement or mediation is not possible, his robust approach to litigation can secure the right outcome.

Gareth has three young children, and when not enjoying time with family he spends time on outdoor pursuits such as running, hiking and clay pigeon shooting.

Peter Fisher FRSA

Solicitor / Consultant

Peter qualified as a solicitor in 1969 and had been with the firm throughout his professional life, becoming a partner in 1971 and senior partner in 1994. Peter retired from Partnership in 2015 to become a consultant, and is pleased to take on new work and still has a significant caseload.

Peter’s speciality is family law and he is a member of Resolution (The Solicitors’ Family Law Association). He is very experienced in dealing with complex matrimonial cases, whether these involve structuring financial settlements or handling sensitive child issues. A number of his cases have been published in law reports, including a case which has stood the test of time as the benchmark for unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce.

Besides sitting for a number of years as a Deputy District Judge, Peter is also experienced in the preparation of wills and lasting Powers of Attorney.

Peter and his wife have three adult children and four grandchildren. For more than twenty five years Peter was a governor of Thorpe Hall School, a local independent school. A life-long Anglican, he has been much involved with the affairs of the Church of England and is a churchwarden of the Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, Leigh on Sea. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a keen photographer. He enjoys walking in the UK and abroad, and aged over 65 years he completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks in a very respectable time. He has also devised and walked a coast to coast from Harwich to the Bristol Channel and an up-England trek from the English Channel to Lake Windermere.

Frances White LLB (Hons)

Partner / Solicitor

Frances qualified as a solicitor in 1978, having trained with the firm’s founder and former senior partner, Mervyn Beecham. She became a partner in 1979 and has worked with the practice ever since.

A member of Avenue Baptist Church for over 45 years, Frances continues to undertake legal work for various local churches and the community. She was previously a member of the management committee which established the YMCA hostel in Southend.

Frances has a Bachelor of Laws Degree, with upper second class honours, from the University of Newcastle. She was also awarded honours on passing her final solicitor’s examinations with four distinctions.

She is a member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT). Also the Law Society’s Property Section and Private Client Section, which are representative associations for members.

Frances enjoys gardening, baking, the theatre and many types of music. She has no children but has recently become a great aunt three times over!

Debbie Stanton LLB (Hons)

Partner / Solicitor

Debbie qualified as a solicitor in 2004 since when she has specialised in Family Law with a particular interest in resolving financial aspects within divorce/co-habitation/ civil partnerships and disputes involving children. Debbie joined the firm in May 2010 and was brought into Partnership in November 2011.

As a member of Resolution, Debbie is committed to providing a personal, non-confrontational and supportive service.

Debbie’s outside interests include interior design, gardening, reading and socialising with family and friends.

Since January 2016 Debbie has been a trustee for HARP, an established charity which is committed to eradicating homelessness in Southend. As part of her role as Trustee, Debbie attends regular monthly meetings which deal with the general day to day running of the charity.