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Team Members

Solus Trust is proud to introduce our Team Members

Putting a face to the name, introducing the Solus Team.

OUR TEAM MEMBERS
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John Blackmer
President & CEO
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Jackie Sewell
Senior Trust Officer
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MoYan (Louis) Yu
Trust Officer
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Grant Armstrong
Senior Trust Administrator
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Ethel Obispo
Trust Accountant
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Mark Oldham
Vice-President, Operations and Corporate Secretary
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Kristine Love
Senior Trust Officer
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Brenda Fee
Trust Officer
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Andrea Mottu
Trust Administrator (on Maternity Leave until June 2022)
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Annie Chan
Executive Assistant
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Karen Melville
Office Coordinator
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Jessica Y. Lo
Manager, Estate Planning
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Cathy Adam
Senior Trust Officer
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Irene Bihari
Trust Officer
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Samira Jafari
Trust Administrator
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Dianna Oswald
Database Administrator
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JOHN BLACKMER
BA (Hons), MBA, LLB, TEP

President & CEO

Experience

John has worked in the taxation, trust and estate fields since 1984. His areas of specialization include managing complex and multi-jurisdictional estates and trusts.

John is frequently sought out to act as an expert witness in trust and estate matters before the courts. John is also frequently invited to speak at industry and professional advisor events about issues of administration and independence in the trust and estate areas.

John founded Solus Trust in 2005 having recognized a need for an independent trust company not affiliated with any financial institution. An independent, unbiased approach eliminates the inherent conflict of interest other trust companies may have when offering their own services along with the financial services of their affiliates.

Part of John’s experience prior to Solus Trust includes working internationally in the trust industry (with Bermuda Trust Company in Bermuda and Harris Bank in Chicago) and assisting with the launch of the fiduciary operations for two large banks in Canada: BMO (in Toronto) and HSBC (in Vancouver).  John also worked for a period of time in the charitable sector (with Vancouver Foundation) and the investment industry (with Royal Trust in Amsterdam and with Real Assets in Vancouver).

Previously John practiced law as in-house counsel for Royal Trust in Toronto. He has also worked at three of Canada’s leading law firms in both Calgary and Toronto, where he practiced exclusively in the areas of tax, trust and estate planning.

John has designed, advised, administered and overseen hundreds of substitute decision-maker arrangements, estate plans, agency arrangements and trust structures. In addition to this domestic experience, John has also worked with complex and multi-jurisdictional structures in the United States and offshore and in Europe.

Qualifications & Education

John has been called to the bar and is a member of the law societies of British Columbia, Alberta and Upper Canada (Ontario).

He graduated from Queens University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) in Political Studies and Economics.

John graduated from the joint MBA / LLB program at York University’s Schulich Business School and Osgoode Hall Law School, respectively, in 1984. His LLB was obtained with a concentration tax, trust and estate law. His MBA focused on accounting and finance.

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MARK OLDHAM
BA

Vice-President, Operations and Corporate Secretary

Experience

Mark has over 25 years experience in the trust & estate, industrial relations & collective bargaining, public & private sector operations and human resources management.

Mark joined Solus Trust as employee #2 in 2006. Mark has served as a Trust Officer for dozens of former and current Trusts, Estates, Power of Attorney and Committee clients.

Mark is currently Solus Trust’s VP, Operations. Mark continues to serve Solus Trust’s clients working with numerous long-term and complex clients as well as backing up other Trust Officers with their client work.

Mark ensures that client work is balance amongst Solus Trust’s Trust Officers and Trust Administrators to ensure the best experience possible for clients and
stakeholders.

“Each client has their own story, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always unique. I strive to provide each person with a positive experience, while at the same time maintaining respectful boundaries. The wide variety of industry professionals that I have had the good fortune to meet over the years has also made my job extremely enjoyable!”

Qualifications & Education

Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Relations from McGill University in Montreal, PQ.

Other Interests

Mark is an avid swimmer and runner. He has held numerous provincial and national records as a Masters swimmer and continues to enjoy swimming on a regular basis. He also enjoys running, having completed numerous marathons including the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon.

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JESSICA Y. LO
BSc, JD, TEP

Manager, Estate Planning

Experience

Jessica is a designated Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) with 10 years of experience in the legal industry.  Her previous practice experience gives her a deep understanding of estate planning tools and strategies, as she has assisted numerous clients to implement their planning goals through the creation of well-considered, customized estate plans.

At Solus Trust, Jessica provides our prospective clients with information on the full range of personal fiduciary services that we offer. She further facilitates the process for individuals seeking to appoint Solus Trust in such fiduciary roles. Additionally, Jessica serves as the primary point of contact in liaising with external referral sources such as law firms, investment-advisory firms, accounting firms, charitable organizations, and seniors’ organizations.

Jessica is passionate about estate planning because it allows people to care for their loved ones and achieve peace of mind.  She is always happy to discuss and explore with prospective clients their planning intentions and needs, in order to help them navigate their next steps.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Jessica practiced at a regional full-service law firm in the areas of estate and incapacity planning, as well as estate administration. With respect to Jessica’s previous estate planning practice, she assisted clients of diverse backgrounds to help identify their objectives and concerns, and created estate plans tailored for their unique circumstances. To implement this planning, she regularly prepared a variety of supporting documents as may be needed in each case – these included wills, powers of attorney, representation agreements, advance directives, trust documents, and various others.  Regarding estate administration matters, she advised and guided executors and other personal representatives in administering estates of various sizes and complexities.

Jessica was born and raised in Vancouver. In addition to fluency in English, she is also proficient in both Cantonese and Mandarin.

Qualifications & Education

Jessica was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2011.  She holds a law degree from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Science in cell biology and genetics with a minor in Commerce from the University of British Columbia.

She earned her Trust and Estate Practitioner designation in 2017 from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. Jessica was granted the designation following completion of all required examinations under the STEP Canada Diploma Program and achieving the requisite practice experience.

Other Interests

When not at the office, Jessica likes to spend her time gardening, trying out new recipes, entertaining family and friends, and creating a variety of crafts. She also enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and golf, and practicing yoga.

Contact Information

You can contact Jessica directly by phone at 604.683.5949 ext. 2118, or by email at jlo@solustrust.com

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JACKIE SEWELL
BA, TEP

Senior Trust Officer

Experience

Jackie has been a Senior Trust Officer with Solus Trust since 2010.  Jackie has worked in the trust and estate fields for 28 years.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Jackie was a Paralegal in the business department of one of Vancouver’s largest law firms where she practiced for 20 years.

Jackie assists Solus Trust in fulfilling its fiduciary duties and responsibilities as Executor, Trustee, Power of Attorney and Committee.

Jackie specializes in the administration of estates and trusts and has extensive
experience in these areas, especially with estates and trusts involving complex and sensitive issues.

Administering an estate can be time consuming and difficult, especially when one is dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Jackie helps beneficiaries and stakeholders navigate through this challenging environment and time.

Jackie has administered and overseen hundreds of substitute decision-maker
arrangements, estate plans, agency arrangements and trust structures during her career.

Qualifications & Education

Jackie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University.
She received a Paralegal Certificate from Capilano University and is a member of the BC Paralegal Association.

Jackie is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), with a TEP designation.

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KRISTINE LOVE
Dip.Ad.Ed

Senior Trust Officer

Experience

Kris has worked in the trust and estate fields for 35 years. Her areas of specialization include estate and trust tax compliance and payroll.

During her career, Kris worked as a trust officer in numerous jurisdictions outside British Columbia, including Ontario and the Caribbean.

Kris also has deep experience managing complex and multi-jurisdictional estates and trusts from both a beneficiary and property perspective. She has administered estates with beneficiaries or real or moveable property in jurisdictions outside BC including: the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Ireland, the Caribbean, and most of the other Canadian provinces.

At Solus Trust, Kris also focuses on estate administration involving litigation amongst beneficiaries and Intervivos and testamentary trusts, including trusts established by personal injury lawsuits and for Power of Attorney clients.

Prior to working at Solus, Kris worked at RBC / Royal Trust for nearly 20 years as a Trust Officer and as a Tax Officer in their trust and estate department.

Kris also has a lot of experience in the charitable giving sector, having spent 10 years working for the BC Cancer Foundation as a Planned Giving Officer responsible for estate gift administration, including bequests, designated funds, insurance and registered funds.

A large part of Kris’ client base at Solus includes estates that are going to charity. Many of Solus’ clients include individuals with no surviving relatives or who provide for charitable gifts under their wills. “It is one of the things that I love about my job. It is very satisfying to present large distribution cheques to charities and learn of the positive impact of the gift”.

Kris is actively involved in industry associations and is the Treasurer of the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP) and has presented at CAGP professional development events.

Qualifications & Education

Kris received her Trust Officer designation from the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada in 1982.

She graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 2001 with a diploma in Adult Education.

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IRENE BIHARI
LLB, STEP Diploma Program (in Progress)

Trust Officer

Experience

Irene joined Solus Trust in 2021.  She has over 20 years of experience working in various roles in the legal industry.  Prior to joining Solus Trust, Irene practiced law in the area of child protection, estate planning, and estate administration.

Her areas of specialization include estate administration and the administration of inter vivos and testamentary trusts.  She also has experience administering estates with beneficiaries located in jurisdictions outside of British Columbia including Germany, United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Irene was born in Saskatchewan and raised in Vancouver. In addition to English, she is also fluent in speaking Hindi.

Qualifications & Education

Irene is an active member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and is currently enrolled in the Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation program.  She was called as a solicitor in New South Wales, Australia in 2009, and to the British Columbia Bar in 2015.  She is also an associate member of the Law Society of New South Wales.

Other Interests

Irene has a passion for volunteering and helping vulnerable children. She has volunteered in an orphanage in Argentina, and was part of a volunteer project in Zambia, Africa, to set up school funding and uniforms for children in the village of Magrimondi. She has also visited India and Bolivia to learn about the problems of child trafficking and bonded labourers.

While living in Australia, Irene was involved in raising funds for orphanages in India, Andaman Islands, and Fiji Islands; she contributed by designing indo/western clothing, coordinating a fashion show for a fundraising dinner, and setting up a pop-up shop to sell the clothing.

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BRENDA FEE
BComm

Trust Officer

Experience

Brenda has over 33 years of experience in the financial services industry with over 17 years of those working in the area of Estates and Trusts.

As a Trust Officer at Solus Trust, Brenda diligently serves our clients and stakeholders of estate, trust, agency, committee, and power of attorney accounts. She approaches every matter with care and attention to detail, and also understands that each one is unique and requires a personalized approach.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Brenda spent 17 years working with one of the 5 big banks, primarily in estates and trusts. She worked closely with the Executive Trust Officers and their assigned group of accounts, varying in size and complexity. Brenda would communicate with the internal and external parties, gathering information and implementing action plans to ensure exceptional service standards were met.

“Solus Trust is a fantastic organization. I love my job and the people I work with. They care about their peers and especially the clients they work for, which makes for a great work environment”.

Qualifications & Education

Brenda graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Finance Major).

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ANNIE CHAN

Executive Assistant

Experience

Annie has worked exclusively in the trust and estate fields for over 30 years.

Annie joined Solus Trust as employee #3 in October 2008 and has supported the business in all aspects since that time, including roles in trust administration, business development, office administration, regulatory reporting, client payments and deposits just to name a few.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Annie had over 20 years of experience working for HSBC Trust Company and HSBC Bank in Canada and Hong Kong.

In addition to keeping Solus Trust’s administration running smoothly, Annie frequently liaises with clients, stakeholders and their professional advisors to ensure service expectations are achieved and exceeded whenever possible.

In the past, Annie has volunteered with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. in the employment counseling area.

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DIANNA OSWALD
TEP

Database Administrator

Experience

Dianna has nearly 25 years’ experience with the design, implementation and maintenance of databases. Dianna manages Solus Trust’s customer relationship management database to ensure it meets internal and external requirements.

Dianna also works with the Company’s clients and investment advisors to ensure accurate and timely compliance of investment reporting. Dianna works with Solus Trust’s Trust Officers to prepare and reconcile estate accounting for respective stakeholders.

Dianna loves her peers and working for Solus Trust. “I love my job. We are a family at Solus Trust. That feeling translates into action. It is how we treat all our clients and stakeholders, too”.

Qualifications & Education

Dianna is an active member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), with a Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation through the STEP diploma program.

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GRANT ARMSTRONG

Senior Trust Administrator

Experience

Grant has worked in the trust and estates field since 2014 and joined Solus Trust in 2021.  As a senior trust administrator, he provides ongoing administrative support to our Trust Officers, and also independently serves our clients and stakeholders of estate, trust, agency, power of attorney, and committee accounts. He brings a strong drive and work ethic to his role, as well as a keen attention to detail developed from his previous career in banking.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Grant worked for a leading national trust company for six years where he specialized in providing quality service on similar client matters.  He was responsible for servicing a complex account load of high-net-worth clients where he executed the fiduciary duties, legislative requirements, and personal aspects of this role with excellence.

Grant has also worked in the banking industry for 11 years in Toronto where he received accolades for his strong work ethic, including being named in the top 10% of his company.

Qualifications & Education

Grant graduated from Sheridan College in 2004 where he studied Business Administration and Finance.  He completed the Conduct and Practice Handbook (CPH) in 2011 and the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) in 2012.

Other Interests

In his free time, Grant enjoys spending time with his young daughter, training for triathlons, golfing in the summer, and snowboarding in the winter.

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CATHY ADAM

Senior Trust Officer

Experience

Cathy has worked in the trust and estate fields for over 54 years and joined Solus Trust in 2021.

Her areas of specialization include estate and trust tax compliance and payroll. She also has extensive experience managing complex and multi-jurisdictional estates and trust from both a beneficiary and property perspective. She has administered estates with beneficiaries or assets located in jurisdictions outside British Columbia including the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and most of the other Canadian provinces.

At Solus Trust, Cathy similarly focuses on complex estate administrations (including those that relate to contentious matters between beneficiaries), inter vivos and testamentary trusts, as well as Power of Attorney matters.

Prior to working at Solus Trust, Cathy worked with Scotiatrust for over 21 years as a Senior Trust Officer; with Royal Trust for 18 years as a Trust Officer/Senior Trust Officer/Tax Manager; and with Canada Permanent Trust for 15 years as a Trust Administer/Trust Liaison Officer.

Qualifications & Education

Cathy received her Trust Officer designation from the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada in 1980.

She graduated from Sentinel Secondary School in 1966 and continued to further her education through night school courses offered by BCIT and UBC. Cathy has completed a range of additional training such as the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and Real Estate Course, as well as obtaining her MTI Estate & Trust Professional designation and Personal Financial Planner (PFP) designation.

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MOYAN (LOUIS) YU
BSc (honours with high distinction), JD, TEP

Trust Officer, Compliance Officer

Experience

Louis joined Solus Trust in 2018 and diligently serves our clients and stakeholders of estate, trust, agency, committee, and power of attorney accounts.

When assisting on Power of Attorney and committee matters, Louis appreciates the individuality of each of her clients and the confidentiality of their legal and financial affairs. She provides a fully personalized service which is tailored to fit the needs of each individual client, while working collaboratively with their existing team of professional advisors. She also works closely with the client’s family and health-care representative to ensure that all the client’s health care needs are met.

While administering trusts and estates, Louis ensures that they are administered in strict accordance with the law and the directions set out by the client in their planning documents. She also works diligently to ensure that trust accounts are administered appropriately, in accordance with the language set out in the trust documents and considering the best interests of beneficiaries.

Louis enjoys the interaction and feedback from clients, beneficiaries, stakeholders and her colleagues as she attends to each client’s needs in a timely and efficient manner.

Louis enjoys the feedback from clients, beneficiaries, stakeholders and her colleagues in dealing with her client’s needs in a timely and efficient manner.

Qualifications & Education

Louis is an active member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), and holds a Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation through completion of the STEP diploma program.

She graduated from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in May 2018.  Prior to that, she obtained a Bachelor of Science (Honours, with high distinction), specializing in Psychology, in 2015 from Innis College at the University of Toronto.

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SAMIRA JAFARI

Trust Administrator

Experience

Samira joined Solus in August 2018, bringing a wide range of local and international experience.

As a Trust Administrator, Samira works with the company’s Trust Officers to ensure that the estates she works with are administered in strict accordance with the law and the directions set out by the client in his/her will.

Likewise, Samira works diligently to ensure that the trusts she works with are administered accurately in accordance with the language set out in the trust documents.

Samira enjoys the feedback from beneficiaries, stakeholders and her colleagues in dealing with her client’s trusts and estates in a timely and efficient manner to ensure that beneficiaries’ needs are addressed and the proceeds of estates are distributed to the beneficiaries as soon as possible.

Areas of administration that Samira typically works on include: Preparing and maintaining a complete listing and valuation of trust or estate assets, securing physical custody and ensuring safekeeping of trust or estate assets and documents, completing the settlement of outstanding estate liabilities, ensuring suitable cash management processes are in place for trust and estate clients, ensuring complete and accurate recordkeeping and accounting for her trust and estate clients.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Samira worked at local law firm providing reception and administrative support to the lawyers, including in the area of trusts and estates. Samira spent her first few years in Canada excelling in customer service at a local retailer. Before coming to Canada, Samira worked as an English Lecturer at a private university in Iran.

Samira brings a positive and confident attitude to her work every day.

Qualifications & Education

Samira is currently enrolled in the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Certificate in Estate and Trust Administration (CETA) program.  She is also a part-time student in Human Resource Management at BCIT in Vancouver.

Samira obtained her Masters of Art in English Literature from Azad University in Karaj, Iran in 2005.  She also has her certificate in TESOL in teaching English as a second language.

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ETHEL OBISPO

Trust Accountant

Experience

Ethel joined Solus Trust in September 2018. Prior to working at Solus Trust she spent over 25 years working in the various accounting roles in the financial services and hospitality sectors.

As a Trust Accountant, Ethel works with the Company’s Trust Officers to ensure that the estates she works with are administered in strict accordance with the law and the directions set out by the client who set his / her will.

Likewise, Ethel works diligently to all trust accounts are accurately maintained and recorded, in a timely manner. Ethel is a great addition to the Solus Trust team as she brings a very positive attitude to work every day. Ethel enjoys working in a supportive team environment and has already contributed to a constructive office culture.

Areas of administration that Ethel typically works on include: Preparing and analyzing monthly and quarterly financial statements, as well as power of attorney, trust and estate accounts. Assisting with the preparation of materials for completion of client income tax returns, trust returns and corporate tax returns. Working with external service providers to ensure timely delivery of services to Solus’ clients and beneficiaries.

Qualifications & Education

Ethel is currently pursuing her CPA designation.

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ANDREA MOTTU

Trust Administrator

Experience

Andrea has close to 20 years of experience in the legal industry. Prior to joining Solus, Andrea worked as a Paralegal for most of the past 15 years, as well as in other roles within the law firm environment such as law firm account management, trust accounting, wills and estates and conveyancing.

Andrea provides ongoing administrative support to the Trust Officers, clients and stakeholders of estate, trust, agency and power of attorney accounts. She also, acts as the designated point of contact for clients and stakeholders.

“Being a part of an organization that helps people at their most vulnerable – the loss of a loved one, someone unable to manage their own affairs due to age, mental illness or otherwise – is so fulfilling. If I can help in some small way to make someone’s day a little brighter, I am all in! We all need help in life – none of us can do it alone.”

Qualifications & Education

Andrea has taken numerous continuing education courses through the British Columbia Legal Management Association and Legal Education Society of British Columbia focused on legal office management, trust accounting and legal procedures.

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KAREN MELVILLE

Office Coordinator

Experience

Karen joined Solus in February 2021 and brings with her a wide range of customer service and financial institution experience.

As Office Coordinator at Solus Trust, Karen is responsible for office administration duties, updating client information in the customer relationship management database, record-keeping and supporting business development activities.

Prior to joining Solus Trust, Karen worked at one of Canada’s largest credit unions in the special accounts department providing advice and support to retail members and to internal and external stakeholders. Previously, Karen spent a number of years as a customer finance representative and document services clerk with a national telecommunications firm.

Karen brings a positive attitude and compassionate approach to her work every day.

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ACTIVE CLIENTS
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> $350 MILLION OF ASSETS UNDER MANAGEMENT
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WILLS IN WILLS BANK
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YEARS OF EXPERIENCE*

*combined Team experience working specifically in the field of trusts and estates

MORE OF OUR TEAM

Solus Trust has a dedicated team of experienced practitioners able to handle situations from the simple to the most challenging administrations.

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