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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 > Wales > Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Mathew Bowen - Red Kite Law LLP
    • Tim Haggar - Red Kite Law LLP
    • Nicky Sherrard - Blake Morgan LLP

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Unmatched in Wales’, Hugh James’s six-partner wealth management team provides ‘London standards of service from Cardiff’, and has the strength-in-depth to provide practitioners with expertise across the spectrum of private client work. Eleanor Evans manages a team handling estates and trusts administration matters on behalf of numerous financial institutions and corporate trust clients. Spearheaded by Sarah Cash, the tax, trusts and estates sub-group handles an increasing amount of work for high-net-worth individuals, which is often serviced in conjunction with the firm’s London office (which has particular strength advising on cross-jurisdictional tax issues and complicated tax and estate planning for non-UK-domiciled individuals). Gareth Wisdom heads the volume will writing service, while the wealth management team is rounded out by a leading contentious probate offering led by the ‘affableMatthew Evans, whose ‘experience, knowledge of the law and tenacious approach to litigation are without compare’. Recently promoted partner Roman Kubiak, who ‘has a good commercial sense and is able to develop rapport with his opponents’, is also recommended.

The departure of former head of the succession and tax team Awen Mellick notwithstanding, Blake Morgan LLP maintains a significant private client offering through associate Nicky Sherrard and new recruit Charlene Davies-Williams, who joined in February 2017 from Martyn Prowel Solicitors. Leveraging the firm’s significant corporate client base, the team regularly handles succession and estate planning matters for business owners and corporate executives. Clients also benefit from complementary practice areas, including litigation and tax.

Substantially reorganised since the departure of Helen Downes, Geldards LLP’s offering is now split into two sub-groups: one dedicated to wealth preservation and succession planning, and the other focusing on trust and estate administration. Claire Johnson provides ‘remarkably clear advice without simplifying complex issues’, and heads the wealth preservation team, which receives a raft of instructions from local tax accountants and financial advisers. Johnson has a particular focus on advising business owners, working closely with corporate colleagues to provide advice on business succession and personal planning. ‘Very personable’ senior associate Anne Taylor manages the trust and estate administration group and is noted for providing a very ‘supportive and efficient service’ across a range of matters, including acting alongside the firm’s clinical negligence team in order to advise clients on compensation protection and Court of Protection issues. Taylor is the firm’s primary contact for Camelot in respect of advice to lottery winners and works with winners to implement effective personal planning in light of their altered financial circumstances.

Active across the spectrum of private client work, Douglas-Jones Mercer’s four-strong team has a strong reputation among clients in south Wales; as well as receiving direct instructions from clients, it also takes on a considerable number of referrals from local independent financial advisers (IFAs). Team head Jonathan Powell is particularly well regarded for his trusts law expertise, including advising individuals on succession planning implementing trust structuresas wella s trust planning for corporate entities. Rebecca Laugharne has a particular specialism in the management of elderly client finances and care home packages, and is a key member of the team, which includes associate Jonathan Cudd (who has a niche in advising vulnerable clients on Court of Protection applications) and Laura Alliss, who handles contentious probate work.

The ‘responsive and commercial’ team at Howells Solicitors has a ‘real ability to think outside the box’, enabling it to provide particular value to clients on complex estate planning matters. Although he is perhaps best known for his contentious probate expertise, the ‘very knowledgeable and calm’ Laith Khatib also provides ‘practical and sensible solutions’ to clients across the gamut of estate planning work, including the preparation of complex wills and lifetime trusts designed to protect assets and/or reduce IHT exposure. Claire Davis continues to advise families on setting up wills and lifetime trusts, with an emphasis on protecting vulnerable and disabled children. Consultant John O’Connell has vast experience in the private client field; in addition to advising on wills and lifetime trusts, he is also involved in a professional deputy capacity to help look after the property and financial affairs for clients who lack capacity. ‘Helpful and supportive’ solicitor Hayley Rees has significant private client experience, including advising unmarried couples on the protection of their assets in the event of the breakdown of the relationship or death of one of the parties.

The ‘responsive’ team at Hutchinson Thomas provides ‘well-considered, accurate and prudent advice’ across the spectrum of private client work, including the preparation of wills, trust deeds, estate administration, Court of Protection applications, and powers of attorney. ‘Truly an expert in her field’, Rhian Williams heads the firm’s offering from Neath and provides a ‘very empathetic and professional’ service to clients. Now primarily based out of Swansea following the opening of a new office there in October 2016, Louise Williams heads the overall team and has already begun to establish strong connections with local financial advisers and accountants who have started to refer a substantial amount of work to her. Praised for her ‘warm bedside manner’, clients appreciate Williams’ ‘practical legal advice laced with a strong empathetic approach’.

The ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ four-partner team at JCP Solicitors provides a ‘first-class service’ to clients across the spectrum of work ranging from wills drafting, advising high-net-worth individuals on tax planning and trust advice, and the administration of estates. The firm also benefits from an ‘excellent’ Court of Protection offering, where Lynne Morgan’s professional deputy credentials sees her handling the property and affairs of incapacitated children and adults; she currently manages assets in excess of £45m. Dividing his time between the firm’s Swansea and Carmarthen offices, lifetime planning head Chris Shaw has particular expertise dealing with the administration of estates, although he also regularly advises high-net-worth individuals – including sportsmen and women – on tax planning matters. The Fishguard-based Arwel Davies has an ‘excellent reputation locally’ for advice on wills and estate administration, and ‘genuinely seems to-go-the-extra mile for his clients’.

NewLaw Solicitors provides a fixed-fee service to a growing roster of clients across a range of tax and estate planning matters, including the preparation of wills, as well as handling complex matters relating to domicile issues and assets abroad. Led by Katie Edwards, the team continues to handle a large amount of wills, trusts and probate work for members of the British Medical Association. Leveraging its top reputation for claimant personal injury work, the firm provides clients with Court of Protection expertise to assist people in managing their financial affairs after they have lost mental capacity; Robert Thomas acts as a professional deputy in such matters. The firm also regularly runs surgeries for charities including Age Cymru and Carers Trust, providing free legal advice on topics including wills, probate and deputyship.

Red Kite Law LLP provides a bespoke service based on the individual needs of each client and is well-versed in providing creative solutions to those wishing to minimize their inheritance tax liabilities through, among other strategies, lifetime gifts and astute succession planning. The firm also has significant will drafting and estate administration expertise. Based out of the firm’s Pembrokeshire office, Tim Haggar has extensive tax and financial planning expertise, including advising the firm’s SME clients on succession planning and retirement. Haggar is also a professional deputy and looks after the affairs of over 55 clients across south Wales and the South West of England. Carmarthenshire-based Mathew Bowen has particular expertise in agricultural relief and trusts.

At Berry Smith, team head Chris Beames regularly assists families with complex estates, often involving capital tax advice, as well as handling Court of Protection work for vulnerable clients. Beames is also able to provide residential property input in estate planning and administration matters.

With numerous offices in north Wales, including Denbigh and St Asaph, Swayne Johnson & Wight is a ‘leading private client firm in the region’ and provides a ‘helpful and efficient service’ to clients. Its expertise covers a range of issues, including high-net-worth estate planning, estate administration and Court of Protection matters. ‘Knowledgeable’ and ‘very supportive’ managing director Sarah Noton has ‘excellent client management skills’ and provides a ‘very empathetic service’ to clients in Court of Protection matters. The ‘supportive and professional’ Lynette Viney-Passig heads the firm’s private client department and provides ‘prompt and very clear advice’, with a particular focus on estate and succession planning for business and farming clients.

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Legal Developments in Wales for Personal tax, trusts and probate

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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