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  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

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Brodies LLP’s ‘outstanding team’ is ‘a market leader’ that demonstrates ‘cutting-edge technical knowledge’. The team handles a broad spectrum of work, including applications to the Court of Session, proving the tenor of lost wills, assisting adults with incapacity applications, negligence opinions and disputes over will validity and the winding up of estates. The team recently represented the wife of a deceased high-net-worth individual, who left an informal will, in a dispute over the estate. ‘ExceptionalAlan Barr leads the practice and brings a ‘sympathetic approach’ to family trustees, noted for an ability to ‘stand firm on particularly difficult issues’. Barr is a thought leader in wills, tax planning and trusts, and has extensive experience in related contentious matters. The ‘professional’ Mark Stewart and associate Angela McCulloch are recommended for their client relationship building skills. Susanne Batchelor is another key practitioner.

Morton Fraser handles high-value and complicated executry and probate disputes, often obtaining interim orders on an urgent basis. The team acts for executors, trustees and estate beneficiaries seeking interim suspension and interdict orders, in addition to seeking the reduction of wills, codicils and other testamentary documents. The practice is jointly led by litigator Richard McMeeken and private client lawyer Sue Hunter, who has an impressive roster of UK-based and international clients, with particular links to Hong Kong. Graham Scott, head of the estate planning team, is experienced in a variety of contentious trust and executry matters.

Turcan Connell’s team specialises in private client litigation and covers the full range of disputes in relation to private clients, family businesses and disputes over inheritance entitlements. It defends and pursues a variety of high-value executry actions, often involving family partnerships. The team is led by experienced private client litigator, Peter Littlefield , whose focus is complex issues arising out of estates and post-death tax planning, as well as the application of Scots succession law to charitable organisations. David Ogilvy has significant expertise in property disputes, including arbitrations and contractual disputes in the Sheriff Court. The group is currently representing a beneficiary in connection with a dispute over the authenticity of their father’s will. Other key mandates included representing a trust in a claim for damages against the Scottish government arising out of an alleged breach of the ECHR in relation to the Scottish Agricultural Holdings Act, which ordered a landlord to arrange their affairs in a particular manner to comply with legislation that was subsequently found unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Anderson Strathern has developed a ‘significant’ contentious private client practice that advises entrepreneurs, businesses, families and individuals on the range of work, including reductions of confirmation, challenges to wills and challenges to executors. It also handles a variety of contentious executry matters. John Peutherer, who leads the practice, specialises in legal rights, testamentary intent, will interpretation and has particular experience in cross-border matters. Katrina Lumsdaine represented the successful party in a complex contentious executry dispute in which executors tried to recover money contributed to the home in which a cohabiting and subsequently separated couple had resided; leading to a dismissal of the action. ‘Hardworking and reliable’ senior associate Gary Burton is also recommended.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP’s contentious private client practice works closely with the firm’s dispute resolution team, and has a niche in land and rural business disputes concerning tax, estates and trusts. The group is also experienced in the removal of executors, proving the tenor of a will, legal rights and breach of duty claims. Agnes Mallon heads the practice, drawing on specialist knowledge of judicial factories and dealing with contentious executry administration, sometimes with a cross-border element. John Stirling handled a claim by the former wife of a high profile individual under an English Court settlement against the estate of her former husband. John McArthur is another key contact, with a focus on tax and succession disputes.

Murray Beith Murray has ‘a competent’ cross-departmental team of litigators, which deals with the spectrum of contentious trust and probate work. Carole Hope, who has ‘excellent technical knowledge and experience’ in contentious matters, has ‘a particular strength in spotting the key issues’ and ‘cutting through the nonsense’. Andrew Paterson leads the practice, and is ‘a pragmatic and forward thinking lawyer’. Hugh Younger is noted for his ‘good client skills’. The group stands out for its ‘substantial experience’ in dealing with high net-worth individuals and complicated executry estates, including those with businesses or agricultural interests. It also has notable expertise in dealing with matters arising from foreign assets.

Shepherd and Wedderburn offers ‘an outstanding level of service’ to clients engaged in trust and probate disputes. ‘Incisive’ Christopher McGill ‘clearly has a strong breadth of knowledge and an impressive level of professionalism’ and co-leads the practice alongside the head of commercial disputes, Guy Harvey. The group acts for private individuals and trustees, as well as institutional clients in a wide range of disputes and associated professional negligence actions and contentious private tax matters. Alastair Frood is advising siblings on the interpretation of a clause in their late father’s will, in relation to the wishes of another sibling, the eldest son who inherited the estate, to sell the property for development. Elaine Brailsford is acting on behalf of a partner in a farming business in a complex family dispute.

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