On the move: the latest East Midlands hires

Alison Neate and Victoria Townsend

Derby-based Smith Partnership has reported that the popularity of TV shows depicting family disputes over inheritance is contributing to a rise in inquiries for contested wills cases.

Programs like The Inheritance and Inheritance Wars: Who Gets The Money? are prompting viewers to seek legal advice, leading to a general increase in contested wills cases in recent years.

Factors such as rising house prices, poorly written DIY wills during the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes in family structures are also contributing to the trend.

Smith Partnership has expanded its contested probate team in anticipation of continued growth in inquiries.

Alison Neate, head of professional liability at Smith Partnership, is now working alongside trainee solicitor Sophie Wilson and solicitor Victoria Townsend.

Townsend has specialised in the area for the past four years and is one of only three members of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) working in Derby.

Townsend said: “Historically there were never enough inquiries for contentious probate to be a specialist area but this has changed and we are getting many more inquiries than when I qualified seven years ago. House prices have driven the increase because properties are worth so much these days that there are more potential benefits to challenging a parent’s or a relative’s will.

“I do intend to watch the TV shows because they are a very useful guide to what is possible when it comes to making a claim. I have dealt with so many cases that could easily have been turned into a TV show, these issues are often family soap operas in themselves so I’m not surprised they’re becoming a popular form of entertainment.”

Law firm, Wilkin Chapman has announced the appointment of a new partner to lead its Grimsby new build property team.

Jen Cooke is contributing more than five years of experience leading new build teams and a decade of legal expertise to Wilkin Chapman.

Cooke said: “My role involves working with local and national new build housing developers and assisting them with infrastructure, site setup, and all of the paperwork that comes with that, before assisting with selling those plots to the general public. I have been brought in to look after those developer clients and manage the team effectively to continue to provide a great service and make it better where possible.

“I am genuinely excited and we’ve got lots of things to achieve in the future so I’m looking forward to being a part of that. We want to expand the team and our client base and show everybody what we can do. There were lots of factors which made me want to join Wilkin Chapman. The firm has a really good outlook and everyone was so positive throughout the recruitment process, which was a refreshing change for a firm of this size. Everyone has been supportive and welcoming.”

Steve Betts has recently become the production manager at Pinelog, a Chesterfield-based timber lodge manufacturer.

Steve Betts

He has worked for several notable companies, including Toyota in both Derby and Japan for 17 years and most recently, he served in a consultancy role for a modular building manufacturer in the north of the UK.

In addition to overseeing the production of complete timber holiday lodges, in his new role, Betts will also manage the production of commercial buildings designed and built by Pinelog at the company’s Chesterfield site.

Betts said: “I’m a process-driven person, with years of experience in fine-tuning production and developing teams’ skillsets. I’m excited to see how I can support Pinelog’s vision.

“I first became aware of Pinelog when I visited Mercia Marina holiday park in Derby in my previous role and saw one of the company’s timber lodges. I was impressed by Pinelog’s quality. I am delighted to now be working for a company with such high standards of design and production. The attention to detail is unrivalled. Pinelog’s products stand apart in the timber lodge market.”