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Sam Crossby: The human touch

Chartered accountants Ward Williams offered the right combination of empathy and expertise to deal with probate for Sam Crossby’s mother’s estate

HR professional Sam Crossby was already familiar with what probate entailed when her mother died in 2017, having previously taken on the probate for her father’s estate when he had passed away some years earlier. That earlier experience led to her and her brother deciding to get professional help second time around. “Probate can be a complex process and it’s difficult to go through that when you’ve just been bereaved,” she says. “Not only is there plenty to do but it all needs to be done properly.”

She had expected to have to ask a firm of solicitors to deal with probate. But when she informed Ward Williams, her parents’ personal financial advisers, of her mother’s death, she was pleasantly surprised to find that the firm could take on the probate. “Ward Williams were financial advisers to both parents and after my father died they continued to look after my mother’s financial affairs,” she says. “Because of that good understanding we felt they would be best placed to provide the expertise needed to see probate through and would handle everything in-house. The long-term relationship meant that we already had a high level of trust in them.”

While Crossby did not ask anyone else about taking on the probate, she was approached by another party: their mother’s bank. However, she says their advance hit the wrong key. “Although the people at the bank did show empathy, their approach came across as more commercial than an offer of personal assistance,” she says. “Ward Williams, on the other hand, simply told us that they could provide the service, explaining what they could do if we wanted them to. Their approach was far more human, and much more appropriate to the circumstances.”

That human touch and accessibility characterised the whole process. “We felt we were always able to ask any questions that we had or pop in for a meeting. We felt well looked after all the way through and it was very comforting to know that we had a professional firm to take the anxiety out of the process for us.

“Probate can be a very detailed procedure, as I knew from personal experience, but Ward Williams made the whole thing less daunting. They were very reassuring and clear about everything, keeping us informed and letting us know we could ask for advice whenever we wanted.”