Meet the Wills, Trusts & Estates Team with Emma Saunders
What is your role in the team and how long have you been at Sintons?
I joined Sintons over five years ago to head up the contentious trusts and probate team. I assist clients who find themselves in the midst of a dispute about a deceased person’s estate. It may be there are concerns about the validity of the deceased’s will, or about the provision that has (or has not) been made for somebody on the deceased’s death. Quite often I help clients who are unhappy with the way an estate or trust is being dealt with, such as a lack of information or accounts.
I also advise on disputes in the Court of Protection relating to the assets of those people who have lost the capacity to manage their own financial affairs, and who have, or need, an attorney or deputy assisting them.
Tell us about your career to date…
I studied economics and social policy at Newcastle University and worked in the public and voluntary sectors at the start of my career. I undertook some advice work and through this decided that I wanted to become a solicitor. I completed the law conversion course and LPC at Northumbria University before completing my legal training at a firm in London.
On qualification as a solicitor I specialised in trust and estate disputes, along with contentious Court of Protection matters. I practiced law in London for a number of years before relocating to Newcastle in 2017 and starting at Sintons, where I became a Partner in 2021.
What attracted you to Sintons?
I was attracted to Sintons because the firm was keen to offer a contentious probate specialism to increase the breadth of the firm’s offering to clients and demonstrated a strong commitment to building such a legal practice. I knew the firm had a strong and highly regarded private client team who would support me in developing this growing business area.
I felt that Sintons as a firm was really “on the up” and I wanted to be a part of that development.
What does your role involve?
My role involves advising clients on a range of issues related to the estates and finances of those who have died, or who have lost capacity. I deal with a wide variety of different legal issues and no two cases are the same.
Many of my clients’ cases are resolved through negotiation or mediation, while others require the involvement of the court. It is my role to guide and support clients through the litigation process. Often, clients are distressed and grieving so, along with more traditional legal advice, a lot of time is spent listening to clients and helping them deal with the complex emotions that estate disputes can cause.
What have been your personal highlights to date?
One personal highlight has been resolving a complex will dispute and Inheritance Act claim for a vulnerable client at a mediation. It meant that a court hearing could be avoided, thereby reducing the costs and stress for the client. The settlement achieved will have a positive and lasting impact on the client for the rest of his life.
I am also pleased to have been included as a Band 1 Individual for Private Wealth Disputes in the Chambers High Net Worth legal directory for the North East and Yorkshire, and for Sintons to be one of only four firms ranked for work in this area.
In addition in the Legal 500 solicitors guide we are the only Tier 1 ranked firm in the North.
The award-winning Wills, Trusts & Estates team is one of the most highly-rated in the North of England. What are the advantages of being part of it?
One of the main advantages of being part of our team is that the people involved are knowledgeable, supportive and keen to do the best for clients, but are also fun to work with!
We have a range of expertise within the team, and the wider firm, which means we can tap into specialist areas to provide a comprehensive and cost-effective service to clients.
How does Sintons differ from other firms you have worked in?
Sintons is an incredibly friendly place to work and the firm is committed to retaining that ethos. The firm reward staff through fun treats such as a visit from the ice-cream van in the summer or the pancake van on Shrove Tuesday.
Sintons is able to offer a fantastic range of services to clients while at the same time not being a firm in which you feel lost by the sheer volume of people.