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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South West > Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Burges Salmon LLP β€˜operates at the same level as most city law firms’ and, according to one client, is β€˜increasingly challenging the London-based firms as leaders in the private client space’. Its legal expertise is β€˜beyond expectations and up-to-date with current legislation’, its technical ability is β€˜superb’ and its client service is β€˜excellent’. The team has extensive experience in advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals on cross-border estate and succession planning, international tax and property structuring. It also advises global financial institutions on the provision of trust and tax planning services. International tax and trusts specialists John Barnett, Suzanna Harvey and Beatrice Puoti are singled out for β€˜balancing excellent technical skills with an innate ability to explain complex issues to clients in an efficient and effective way’. β€˜Outstanding’ practice head Barnett is β€˜one of the best tax lawyers in the country’, focusing on advising entrepreneurial clients, most of whom are not domiciled in the UK or have business or other interests abroad. Harvey is assisting on the restructuring of the trust established by a non-UK resident non-UK domiciled individual in light of the new rules on UK residential property held through offshore companies. Jim Aveline has β€˜listens, understands and then provides insight accompanied by practical solutions’. Tom Hewitt’s experience and knowledge in succession and wealth planning is β€˜excellent’ and his β€˜level of commitment is exceptional’. The team was bolstered with the hire of senior associate Catherine de Maid, who joined from Investec Philanthropy Services. Charles Wyld retired.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is β€˜definitely one of the leading law firms for private clients’, offering the full range of advice including estate and tax planning, family, charities and trust litigation. The β€˜highly competent powerhouse’ practice is led by senior partner Christopher Page, who splits his time between London and Cheltenham, and also includes Julia Cox, whose client list features UK entrepreneurs, business owners, high-net-worth individuals and non-UK residents as well as their families and trustees. The β€˜knowledgeable’ Henry Fea is highly recommended for offshore tax planning for both UK and non-UK resident individuals and has notable experience in advising on regularising tax affairs, particularly through the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility and the UK-Switzerland Agreement. Senior associate Alexander Caton advises on all aspects of private client work, often with a rural and landed estate dimension. It is also excellent at associate level, adding three new ones in 2016. Tabitha Collett is β€˜technically outstanding’.

Clarke Willmott LLP focuses on complex estate planning and family wealth issues. Its Bristol office acts for over 130 deputyship clients on their financial affairs and advises high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs on estate planning. The Taunton-based team regularly handles estate planning matters for farmers and landowners; Stuart Thorne, David Maddock and Emma Pope are the main contacts in that office. Anthony Fairweather heads the private capital team, which is spread across five offices located throughout England, and specialises in making applications to the Court of Protection to implement inheritance tax planning. Estate planning and inheritance tax specialist Elizabeth Smithers is β€˜highly intelligent and articulate in both spoken and written advice’. Jane Halton is recommended for deputyship applications, statutory wills and the administration of estates. Consultant Carol Cummins is another key name to note, regularly assisting private clients, executors and trustees on issues such as large family trusts, tax and estate planning. The group recently handled the administration of a taxable large landed estate and advised on the restructuring of multiple family trusts as part of a broader succession and inheritance tax planning.

Foot Anstey is β€˜extremely good’, providing β€˜up-to-date knowledge’ combined with β€˜clear and concise advice’. The group is under the β€˜dynamic and decisive leadership’ of Bristol-based Deborah Carrivick, who acts for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, trustees, landed estates and international financial institutions on cross-jurisdictional tax, trust and succession planning. She also works with the firm’s Islamic finance group advising on the UK tax treatment of Shari’ah-compliant alternative financial products and trusts. The team advised an ultra-high-net-worth client on the tax aspects (stamp duty land tax and capital gains tax) of its acquisition of multiple properties using alternative finance products. Other recent highlight saw tax specialist John Pindard advising UK and US beneficiaries of two offshore trusts on new rules applying to the structures of non-domiciled individuals. Within the sizeable team, Exeter-based Simon Gregory focuses on advising farmers and landowners on tax and wealth planning. Consultant Michael Evans has notable experience in advising financial institutions and individuals on international trust and tax matters, with particular focus on the Middle East. Patricia Wass leads the mental capacity unit and is recommended for Power of Attorney and Court of Protection work. Senior associate Anna Parker has β€˜great client handling skills’ and is β€˜definitely one to watch’, while Michelle Seddon is β€˜thorough, prompt, accurate and always willing to listen and answer any questions’. Kirstin Cook joined from Hay & Kilner while Bart Obszynski left for Burroughs Day LLP.

Michelmores LLP fields a team of β€˜knowledgeable, flexible, approachable, and business-minded lawyers who manage clients’ expectations very well’. Private wealth team head Jonathan Riley, who splits his time between Exeter and London, advises UK and non-UK domiciled clients on tax issues, specialising in estate and succession planning as well as mitigating inheritance and capital gains tax. He is advising trust beneficiaries in respect of the restructuring of a multimillion-pound estate, and is assisting a global private bank with the preparation of trust documentation for its worldwide client base. Bristol-based Sandra Brown β€˜stays in touch with clients to make sure they stay focused on the area of planning’. She focuses on preservation of personal wealth, with a particular interest in the use of trusts and has notable experience in advising trustees of onshore and offshore trusts. Jennifer Ridgway is advising a UK resident non-UK domiciled private equity fund owner on tax issues and creating a property trust. The group also regularly acts for vulnerable persons; it has solid track record of advising on the protection of significant clinical negligence and personal injury awards. The team also includes a chartered account and tax adviser who advises on complex accounting for offshore trustees and preparing trust accounts for landed estates. Senior associate James Radcliffe has expertise in assisting clients with US connections on cross-border tax and estate planning.

TLT is β€˜technically excellent’, β€˜cost effective’ and β€˜gets straight to the important points’. It has a well-established team, which is able to handle the full spectrum of private client work in the UK and internationally, supported by its London office, which focuses on acting for wealthy international families. The team is actively advising on the changes to non-domiciliary taxation and inheritance tax. Its clients include ultra-high-net-worth individuals from the banking industry and an impressive range of international private banks. Highlights included advising an ultra-high-net-worth UK resident family on the replacement of an offshore trust structure with a UK company partnership vehicle. The β€˜excellent’ Patrick Wooddisse is β€˜technically strong’ and β€˜gives very clear advice’. Legal director David Wheeler is β€˜a practitioner with real charm and gravitas who is excellent with clients’.

Salisbury-based firm Wilsons acts for a broad range of clients including landed estates, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals, based in the UK and abroad; it also advises UK and offshore trustees on the full range of trust law. Within the team, Adam Herbert regularly acts for international families, advising on governance and succession planning worldwide, while Frances Mayne is the main contact for probate and trust administration matters as well as Court of Protection work. Belinda Watson leads the estates and inherited wealth team, which advises over 50 substantial landed estates on a wide range of wills, trusts and tax issues including inheritance, capital gains and stamp duty land tax as well as agricultural and business property relief. Her clients also include owners of large farms and family businesses.

Ashfords LLP has β€˜the right partners, staff and level of expertise’, β€˜understanding the requirements of high-net-worth individuals and reacting promptly when instructed’. It advises landed estates and high-net-worth individuals on all aspects of succession planning, tax mitigation, wills, trusts and diversification. Recent highlights include acting for the executors in the administration of a taxable estate which included a life interest trust aggregated for inheritance tax purposes. Practice head Michael Alden, a Court of Protection deputy, has β€˜an amazing work ethic’, β€˜an empathetic way of dealing with clients of all kinds’ and is β€˜incredibly strong and very up-to-date technically’. He regularly handles inheritance tax planning matters. The full service team, noted for its β€˜good communication’, includes Tiverton-based agricultural specialists Tom Biddick, who is β€˜especially detail-focused and is prepared to help outside of the brief when necessary’, and Darren Blackburn, as well as Taunton-based Sue Savill, who has particular expertise in succession planning and tax mitigation as well as capacity issues for vulnerable individuals. Other Tiverton key contacts Andrew Carrigan and Laura England are β€˜knowledgeable and approachable’.

Bond Dickinson LLP regularly handles matters relating to landed estates as well as onshore and offshore trusts, and clients, which include trustees, landowners, executors, entrepreneurs non-UK domiciled individuals, are β€˜very pleased with its approach’. β€˜Highly competent’ team head Mark Woodward, whose β€˜technical knowledge is excellent’, advised a family with shares in a private UK trading company on the US tax implication of various trusts where the beneficiaries included US citizens, also assisting with the wills and UK/US tax exposure aspects of these matters. His other recent work includes acting as a neutral administrator to a contentious estate and advising clients on the capital gains and stamp duty land tax implications of de-enveloping UK residential property. Legal director Christopher Kerr-Smiley is recommended for trust restructuring, trust taxation and trustee powers and duties issues.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys expanded its tax practice with the hire of Stewart Jordan from Deloitte. Department head Alex Taylor, who is β€˜a fantastic lawyer with a deep technical ability’, leads a team of β€˜articulate, competent and personable’ lawyers who handle a wide range of private client matters, including cross-border ones, such as wills and tax planning, estate administration and trusts. He is particularly recommended for lifetime estate planning involving inheritance and capital gains tax, the administration of estates, and registration of power of attorney. Phillipa Bruce-Kerr adopts β€˜a very empathetic attitude towards her clients’. She specialises in advising older and vulnerable clients and regularly handles Court of Protection matters. Mark Hartley focuses on agricultural and business property reliefs as well as domestic and international tax issues. Clients include high-net-worth individuals as well as Barnett Waddingham, Ecclesiastical Insurance and GVA Grimley.

Stephens Scown LLP has niche expertise in acting on death in active service exemption cases and Court of Protection work. Its broad offering includes advising high-net-worth individuals on high-value estate and tax planning, trust planning, as well as sale and purchase of trust assets. The team is now led by Phil Reed following the departure of Tracey Wright to Woollcombe Yonge in June 2017. Malcolm Emery, a dual qualified solicitor and a chartered tax adviser, is recommended for advising on domicile and tax residence issues as well as exit planning for business owners. Graham Murdoch, who is a notary public, and Ian Newcombe are key contacts in Truro and Exeter respectively.

At Blanchards Bailey LLP, β€˜response times are very quick’, β€˜the level of specialist knowledge is high’ and β€˜advice provided is succinct and appropriate’, resulting in an β€˜excellent’ overall level of service. Areas of particular expertise include estate planning and tax advice, probate and estate administration and management of clients’ affairs through powers of attorney, deputyship orders and trusts. The team has been active advising on the impact of stamp duty land tax on trusts. It acts for high-net-worth individuals, business owners, farmers amd vulnerable individuals. Blandford Forum-based Jerome Dodge has β€˜excellent specialist knowledge on trust and related tax issues’ and is singled out for his ability β€˜to clearly communicate key points’. Further names to note include Sue Edwards, who is β€˜efficient, effective and very responsive’, and associate Linda Hardy, who is β€˜very clear in her explanations of complex issues’. Senior associate Ian Campbell, who specialises in wills and estate planning and administration of estates, joined from Coles Miller Solicitors LLP in March 2017.

Lester Aldridge LLP is recommended for wealth planning as well as issues relating to taxation of foreign properties and successions of businesses. Private client team head Kurt Lee has strong expertise in inheritance and capital gains tax planning matters as well as the creation, running and breaking of trusts. The highly recommended Oliver Phipps specialises in probate with a particular focus on the administration of estates with assets located in multiple jurisdictions. Richard Light advises individuals and shareholders on tax planning, regularly handling trade sales and private equity transactions. Paula Shea is particularly skilled at advising elderly clients and assisting families with vulnerable children.

Royds Withy King is singled out for its β€˜sensible and commercial approach’ and β€˜good response times’. Private client group head James McNeile is β€˜very good on the technical law’ and is β€˜charming and capable when communicating with clients’; he advises on wealthy families, including non-UK citizens, on estate, trusts and tax planning. Becky Richards Small specialises in inheritance tax planning, and is particularly experienced in Court of Protection and deputyships. Fiona Feggetter, who is advising non-UK domiciled individuals on their tax planning, and Mandy Casavant, who gives β€˜conscientious and well-informed advice’, form part of the team’s β€˜excellent pool of associates’. Recent instructions include handling will and estate administrations, and advising a family as well as trustees on the transfer of a large landed estate to the next generation.

Steele Raymond LLP’s three-partner team has particular expertise in acting in the administration of high-value estates, including those involving international assets. Group head Sue Adams and consultant Paul Causton are both dual qualified as solicitors and chartered tax advisers. Adam is advising the life tenant of a landed estate, consisting farmland, farm cottages and other buildings, on reducing inheritance tax by partitioning the estate, and is asisting a family with inheritance tax planning, trusts and applications to the Court of Protection for a statutory will and later permission to make gifts. Richard Smith β€˜works to a very high, professional standard’ and has β€˜great attention to detail’. John Andrews is is also recommended.

Stone King LLP handles a significant amount of estate planning, succession planning and tax issues for individuals, including non-UK domiciled ones. It also provides an incorporated legal and financial care service tailored to the needs of elderly clients. Trusts and estates team head Alison Allen has particular experience in advising families and carers of vulnerable individuals with impaired mental capacity on estate planning, trusts and care funding. Daniel Harris has β€˜a charm, sincerity and genuine desire to provide the best advice and most proactive service possible within an agreed cost forecast’. His areas of expertise include international succession issues, cross-border estate administration, probate and domicile issues. Tax expert Andrew Mortimer also practices as a notary public.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s team, consisting of private client practice head Helen Honeyball and recently promoted partners Amanda Rainford and Frank Cook, provides β€˜a consistent approach to estate planning’. β€˜Each of them has strong technical knowledge’ and β€˜their strengths complement each other’. Clients also praise the team for its ability to provide β€˜sound, client-friendly as well as cost effective advice and service’. Honeyball is recommended for estate planning for high-net-worth individuals. Cook is β€˜a complete professional’; β€˜calm under pressure with an exceptional knowledge of probate, wills, trust and tax’, and β€˜excellent interpersonal skills which helps cement his relationship with his clients’. Rainford has particular expertise in establishing and managing trusts for vulnerable beneficiaries.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is β€˜proactive, diligent and expeditious’. It β€˜looks beyond the face-value facts, endeavouring to look under the bonnet of a client’s circumstances’. The team advises on estate and trust issues involving inheritance, capital gains and stamp duty land tax. Recent work covers the administration of estates and trusts, setting up lifetime trusts, and assisting on succession planning for high-net-worth individuals and individuals with vulnerable adult children. The team, led by Michelle Rose, includes the β€˜astute yet intuitive’ Mary McCrorie, whose,β€˜thorough questioning helps extract from clients exactly what their needs and preferences are’. Her ability to think "outside the box" is also β€˜particularly refreshing’. Senior associate Helen Robertson’s expertise lies in the administration of trusts and inheritance tax planning. Associate Megan Alexander joined from Meade King LLP in January 2017.

Key figures at Cheltenham-based tax and private client boutique firm Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove include the β€˜thorough and approachable’ Tim Osborne, who handles tax planning for clients with international interests, Stephen Pallister, who advises private clients, their families and ownership vehicles both in the UK and abroad, and Edward Hall, who is a key contact for advising high-net-worth individuals and institutional clients on cross-border tax planning, establishment and taxation of trusts, estate planning and philanthropy. The team is β€˜able to handle very complex international matters, be it tax planning or establishing overseas trusts and foundations’. Michael Fullerlove retired in 2017.

Willans LLP is, according to one client, β€˜a leading medium-sized firm for tax, trusts and probate work in the Cheltenham and Gloucester area’. Clients praise the eight-strong team’s β€˜ability of delivering advice in a professional and, where appropriate, simplistic way, removing any jargon or perceived prior knowledge’. Group head Simon Cook is β€˜excellent in dealing with a range of issues surrounding inheritance tax’. In 2016, he advised a life tenant on the administration of an estate and related inheritance tax issues, and handled several Court of Protection matters. New partner Ruth Baker is β€˜very responsive’ and has β€˜excellent communication skills’. She handles a steady flow of wills, powers of attorney and Court of Protection work, and is increasingly advising high-net-worth individuals on their estate planning. The group enhanced its capabilities in advising agricultural clients through the hire of Robin Beckley, who joined from Lodders Solicitors LLP.

BPE Solicitors LLP has particular expertise in advising on succession planning for clients with commercial interests and the β€˜very personable’ Clare Young is a key contact for such matters. The β€˜incredibly hard working’ Peter Tyrrell has particular experience in Court of Protection matters, deputyship applications and contested power of attorney applications.

Farnfields LLP is β€˜extremely professional in its approach’, β€˜extremely knowledgeable’, and has β€˜excellent communication skills’. The team mainly acts for clients in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire on a broad range of issues including succession planning, personal tax planning, lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection work. Managing partner Fiona Thomas and Susan Lacey specialise in inheritance tax mitigation, estate administration and the creation as well as administration of trusts. Sophie Horton made partner in April 2017.

Christchurch-based firm Frettens LLP is led by wills and probate specialist Lee Young, who β€˜explains complex legal matters in simple, understandable language’ and provides β€˜bespoke advice that reflects his clients’ needs’. The group advises individuals whose estates value up to Β£5m. Recent work covers estate planning and administration.

Kitsons LLP is β€˜very knowledgeable in every area of private client work’. The team is spread across Exeter, Torquay and Plymouth, and is particularly noted for its β€˜prompt as well as professional responses’. β€˜Very experienced’ practice head Lynn Smith has β€˜an excellent manner with clients’. Tax planning expert Charlie Siegle and trusts specialist Jonathan Dickson are recommended for probate cases with an international element. Marjorie Creek has β€˜comprehensive as well as practical knowledge and expertise’ - β€˜the care and empathy she shows to her elderly clients whilst at the same time ensuring that all relevant legal areas are dealt is exceptional’.

Laceys’s level of service is β€˜excellent’; it is able to β€˜handle complex matters promptly, efficiently and at a fair price’. β€˜Excellent communicator’Kate Mansfield is β€˜very personable and professional’, β€˜displays a good understanding of the relevant legal and fiscal issues’ and β€˜delivers advice in a readily understandable manner’. Natasha Cross is a key name for the administration of trusts and estates, drawing up wills and advising on lasting power of attorneys. Simon Nightingale, who handles both contentious and non-contentious probate matters, is also recommended.

Meade King LLP’s β€˜very knowledgeable and practical’ team has β€˜breadth and depth of experience’ and β€˜finds workable solutions for clients’. It advises a range of clients including SME owner-managers, property owners, high-net-worth individuals, philanthropists, and trustees of family trusts, and has notable tax and estate planning expertise. Recent instructions include advising on the administration of a Β£1.5m estate and acting as court appointed trustee to a Β£5m trust with complex investment arrangements. Vanessa Eyre is β€˜a very safe pair of hands’.

Mogers Drewett LLP advises high-net-worth individuals, including farmers and business owners, on inheritance tax and succession planning, and also handles estate administrations, often working on cross-border matters. Rory McFarlane and Rebecca Beresford are the key contacts in Sherborne office, while Tom Chiffers, David Hill and Sarah Dodd are the names to note in Bath.

Bath-based boutique firm Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors provides β€˜professional and timely communication’. The group is recognised for its work on complex estate and succession planning, where it acts for medium and high-net-worth individuals and business owners. It is also experienced in inheritance tax planning, mitigation of capital gains tax and Court of Protection work. The team further strengthened its ability to advise elderly clients and assist with mental capacity-related issues when it hired associate Heledd Wyn from Clarke Willmott LLP in July 2016. Practice head David Whitworth has qualities which β€˜enable him to get inside problems’- he β€˜teases out solutions with people who are difficult’, and β€˜develops arrangements which draw on an exceptional knowledge of the law coupled with practical ways to make things work’.

Porter Dodson LLP is praised for its β€˜excellent advice and service’ which is delivered β€˜promptly at realistic cost in a friendly and professional manner’. Practice head Ian Sankey is a key contact in Sherborne, Taunton-based Sharon Collier impresses with her β€˜knowledge, common sense and manner’, Dorchester-based Chris Pemberton is recommended for succession planning and Wellington-based Kate James has notable experience in acting for agricultural clients and landed estates. It advises on tax and succession planning, estate and trust administration, as well as Court of Protection applications and powers of attorney.

Thrings LLP acts for high-net-worth individuals, including farm and business owners, landed estates, and vulnerable individuals. The team advises on high-end tax and wealth planning, including the management and mitigation of liability to inheritance and capital gains tax. Key names to note include Bath-based Michael Young, Ann Carlton and Elizabeth Evans.

Trethowans LLP has a niche specialism in advising entrepreneurs, farmers and landed estates on succession and capital tax planning. It also handles Court of Protection and mental capacity issues as well as probate administrations. Recent works covers the administration of the estates of deceased individuals and negotiating with HMRC on inheritance tax and business property relief matters. Elizabeth Webbe has experience in advising on tax issues for clients with overseas assets, and is also a key name to note for preparing and administering wills and trusts. Gary Pick and senior associates James Hammersley are also key contacts. Individuals mentioned above are based in Salisbury and Poole.

Wansbroughs’ β€˜excellent’ practice head Alan Ciechan is highly experienced in advising on inheritance and capital gains tax , acting for landowners, business owners, as well as other individuals. Andrew Jenkins handles wills and tax planning, particularly in the agricultural sector, and has notable experience in Court of Protection work, while Anna Wensley Stock focuses on advising high-net-worth individuals on estate planning. Stock is also experienced in will drafting and administering estates, including those with an international element. The team hired associate Emily Anderson from Mishcon de Reya LLP.

Wards Solicitors has β€˜a clear set of processes which assists in ensuring client relationships are always kept up to date’. It is also singled out for its β€˜helpful and appropriate information and advice’. The team advises on tax planning, trust management, powers of attorney, mental capacity and asset protection with particular expertise in advising elderly and vulnerable clients. Jenny Pierce’s knowledge is β€˜exemplary’ and clients praise her ability to β€˜explain everything in a manner that is easily understood’. Tom Scoffham is β€˜very efficient and knowledgeable’. Associate Mary Harty is recommended for the administration of trusts.

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Legal Developments in South West for Personal tax, trusts and probate

  • New β€˜ROE Bill’ draft published

    Following from the recent public outcry regarding the lack of β€˜transparency’ in the UK property market, a new β€˜ROE Bill’ draft has now been published.
    - Hudson McKenzie

Legal Developments in the UK

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