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Fiona Ashworth, who qualified as a solicitor in 1999, joined the TSP Wills and Estates team in August 2014 as the Team Leader, and is based in our Colchester Office. Fiona has extensive experience in her area and advises our clients on Succession Planning and their Wills; the preparation and use of Powers of Attorney (whether general powers of attorney for business structures, Lasting Powers of Attorney for Property and Financial affairs or Health and Welfare needs, and registration of the old-style Enduring Powers of Attorney); the Administration of Estates, Inheritance tax and Trust matters and Court of Protection cases.
Fiona has developed a particular specialism working with meeting the needs of elderly clients and her farming background (she was born into a farming family and is married to a farmer) has helped her develop a strong agricultural client base.
Since January 2016, Fiona M. Ashworth Ltd, a company of which Fiona is a Director, has been a corporate partner in Thompson Smith and Puxon.
Fiona, who was born in Colchester, has long established links with the town. Her Father, David Cannon, is a former Mayor (1998), and she attended Colchester County High School for Girls. She completed both her Law Degree and her Legal Practice Course at Anglia Ruskin University, before going on to complete her training contract with a Colchester law firm. During her training Fiona worked in the Wills and Probate team and on “elderly client” matters and decided that this was the area of the law that she wanted to focus on, as it goes to the heart of any family.
Fiona is a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly (‘SFE’), an independent national organisation of lawyers who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.
Fiona is also a fully qualified member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (‘STEP’). STEP is the leading worldwide professional body for practitioners in the fields of Trusts, Estates and related issues. STEP members help families to plan for their long term financial future, providing expert advice on how to comply with the often complex law and tax rules surrounding Trusts, Estates and Inheritance. Fiona is a past Trustee of the Essex Federation of Young Farmers Clubs and is a past council member of the Essex Agricultural Society, from which post she retired in October 2017, following 4 years maximum service. She remains as a member.
Fiona is a Dementia Friend, an Alzheimer’s Society scheme which aims to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with dementia and how people living with it can be helped. Find out more about the scheme and how TSP is involved here.
Thompson Smith and Puxon has, for a number of years, been highlighted by the Legal 500 as a Leading Firm in this practice area and Fiona is noted as a Leading Individual in her practice area in the Legal 500’s Guide to Elite Lawyers nationwide. In 2020/21 the Legal 500 said:
Preparation of wills, administration of estates and enduring powers of attorney are all handled by the ‘diverse and knowledgeable’ personal tax, trusts and probate team at Thompson Smith and Puxon. In addition, it provides specialist legal advice to the friends and family of the elderly, particularly in relation to Court of Protection applications. Team leader Fiona Ashworth is a specialist in the agricultural sector and is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. Solicitors Aileen Hirst and Sarah White are accredited members of Solicitors for the Elderly while Robert Ashworth is recommended for succession planning, with an emphasis on farming clients.
In 2021/22 the Legal 500 said: Thompson Smith and Puxon’s wills and estates practice is highly prominent in the agriculture sector; its recent workload in this space has included advice to clients on farming family successions, high-value estate administrations and tax-related issues. Fiona Ashworth and Robert Ashworth are both members of the Agricultural Law Association, and along with Aileen Hirst, are members of the Tendring Hundred Farmers Association and Suffolk Agricultural Association. Beyond work for agricultural clients, the practice is highlighted for its advice to business owners and high-net-worth individuals on lifetime and succession planning. Elsewhere, the team’s other areas of expertise include Court of Protection deputyship matters, powers of attorney and contested wills.
In 2019 the Legal 500 said: “Thompson Smith and Puxon’s ‘impressive’ private client department is ‘very well versed in dealing with complex matters’ which include all aspects of wills, inheritance tax planning and the administration of estates. Led by standout practitioner Fiona Ashworth, who clients describe as a ‘real asset to the firm’, the team is proficient in handling high-value and often uniquely challenging transfers of inter-generational wealth. The agriculture sector has traditionally been a strong client focus of the firm. Aileen Hirst acts for high-net-worth clients and advises on trust planning and estates. Sarah White and Robert Ashworth are also recommended.”
In 2018 the Legal 500 said: “The ‘thorough, efficient and reliable’ private client department at Thompson Smith and Puxon ‘exhibits a high degree of professional experience and capability’ with ‘a caring and considerate side’ and a willingness to ‘go the extra mile’ in order to ‘provide a comprehensive and timely service’. Focus areas include will preparation, probate, trusts, tax and succession planning, registering enduring powers of attorney, and Court of Protection matters, as well as asset preservation relating to long-term residential or nursing care requirements. A large proportion of clients have a business or agricultural background. ‘Sharp-minded, sympathetic and hardworking’ Fiona Ashworth, who ‘has a wealth of experience’, leads the practice from the Colchester office and is a main contact for elderly and farming clients. In October 2017, ‘friendly and persevering’ Robert Ashworth and ‘conscientious, sympathetic and efficient’ Aileen Hirst, who ‘has a practical grasp of problems and solutions’, joined Clacton-based Sarah White at associate level. Clients further recommend ‘exceptionally professional and caring’ solicitor Adina Milleare.”
Fiona said “I am a people person. I enjoy dealing with families, helping them to sort out their succession and tax planning, or later life care issues. Being able to help them at times which are very often upsetting, and stressful, suits my personality and gives them peace of mind.”
To find out more about the Wills and Estates services that Fiona can offer click here.
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