I am surprised by how often I am asked what makes Appleton the fiduciary specialists. The short answer is that we are a company that only drafts bespoke and individualised Wills and administers deceased estates. But the fact that we focus purely on these two aspects of one’s financial well-being doesn’t capture why we are so special for our clients. The top and bottom of our specialisation is the fact that we place our clients at the centre of everything we do as a company. And this is a company with over 100 years of collective experience in fiduciary services.
The first point of distinction is the detailed work that goes into understanding our clients’ estate needs before even drafting the first letter of their personalised Will. This is not just a case of asking the right questions, although this is key, but actually guiding our clients as to what should and can go into a Will. How to think about their legacy, their wishes, and how they would want their family and heirs to benefit from their estate.
Despite the availability of off the shelf, do it yourself and online Will templates, there will never be a substitute for a personalised consultation to ensure you understand your own estate, the implications of your marital and legal status, your tax implications and of course, ensuring that your Will is executable.
The second area of specialisation is the actual administration of estates. We have learnt through the bitter experience of others, that administering estates is a dedicated, full-time profession, which cannot be done as a sideline to a financial practice, legal practice, tax practice or accounting practice. It is often an intensive, time-consuming, complicated and at times frustrating process that demands constant personal attention and professional dedication. Appleton has, though its decades of experience, established a dedicated network of specialists who deal solely with the Masters offices around the country, as well as with all the deeds offices as well as SARS offices to ensure fast and efficient service for our clients.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in addition to the professional experience of our administrators, each has become expert at dealing with people who are at their most traumatised, emotional, dependent and yes, vulnerable. There is no online portal or template that can provide the human, emotional and professional support and guidance provided by Appleton’s administrators at the time of death. It takes a certain quality of individual to provide calm, caring advice and yet still achieve what has to be done to administer a deceased estate efficiently on a daily basis.
Remember too that Appleton is quite possibly unique as fiduciary specialists who have a team of two people dedicated to each estate. No call centres, no anonymous agents, but rather personalised estate administrators who establish personal relationships with families and heirs through the often-traumatic process of winding up an estate.
So, in a depersonalised and digitised ‘online’ world, that seems to have lost the human care and attention we all deserve, Appleton remains and will always be, the fiduciary specialists dedicated to each and every one of our valued clients.
As Executive Chairman, I wish you and your families a happy festive season and look forward to talking to you again in the first quarter of 2024.