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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

Who Represents Who

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'Rightly recognised as the heavyweight firm in Wales for estates, trusts and probate', Hugh James six-partner team includes numerous 'talented practitioners and the depth of resources to take on substantial work'. Matthew Evans has a 'genuine commitment to excellence'; he heads the firm's overarching wealth management group and is predominantly focused on handling contentious matters including proprietary estoppel cases, an area which he has developed a leading reputation as a result of handling some landmark cases - including most notably acting for the claimant in the much vaunted Davies v Davies litigation. 'A natural and dynamic leader', the 'very impressive' Roman Kubiak heads the firm's contested wills, trusts and estates team and is noted for his 'deep knowledge of estates and trusts law'. On the non-contentious front, Sarah Cash 'provides a high level of service' to an impressive client base that includes many high-net-worth individuals, who she advises on their tax planning, including establishing lifetime trusts and will preparation, as well as on the administration of estates. Eleanor Evans manages a team dealing with estates and trusts administration on behalf of financial institution and trust corporation clients. Evans regularly handles multimillion-pound estates including her ongoing work administering a complex estate worth in excess of £5m, consisting of significant shareholdings, business interests and international assets. 'Communicative and knowledgeable'  managing partner Alun Jones was integral to the development of the firm's volume-based wealth management services, which it provides to major UK high street financial services brands. Senior associate Andrew Jones is also recommended, particularly for handling tax and estate planning matters for high-net-worth international clients.

A spate of recent departures - including most recently that of Charlene Davies-Williams - notwithstanding, Blake Morgan LLP's two-strong team, nevertheless, remains in a relatively strong position as a result of its ability to leverage the firm’s significant corporate client base and therefore the ability to handle succession and estate planning matters for business owners and corporate executives. Clients also benefit from complementary practice areas, including litigation and tax. Senior associate Lisa Davies now heads the team following her arrival in October 2017 from Sinclairslaw and brings with her a solid base of clients as well as strong ties with professional referrers. Davies is currently involved in lifetime estate planning and will drafting for a client who has complex and high-value affairs, including a farm (for which an assessment to agricultural property relief must be made), a development property, shareholdings and property and bank accounts in Switzerland. Associate Nicky Sherrard is also recommended.

Led by the 'technically strong' Claire Johnson, the 'knowledgeable, friendly and approachable' seven-strong team at Geldards LLP is 'professional and very organised when it comes to dealing with private clients'. Praised for its 'willingness to go the extra mile', the team handles a broad range of wealth preservation and succession planning matters, as well as trust and estate administration, and has 'been excellent at building long term relationships with a variety of clients' - both in terms of direct instructions as well as in the form of referrals from tax accountants and financial advisers. 'Sharp minded and friendly' senior associate Anne Taylor is 'particularly in tune with wills, trusts and probate advice'. Associate Gillian Crouch is 'always chirpy and upbeat while maintaining a business-like approach and extreme professionalism', and is a key member of the team that also includes associate Laura Ikin, who provides 'clear and understandable explanations' in matters relating to wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, trusts, tax and estate planning.

Douglas-Jones Mercer has a strong reputation in the south Wales market across a varied array of private client work, ranging from simple will drafting for the elderly, to complex commercial succession solutions for clients throughout the UK. Team head Jonathan Powell has close ties with many local referrers including independent financial advisers (IFAs), and is noted in particular for his trusts law expertise - both for individuals and for corporates. 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 that also 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.

Howells Solicitors continues to thrive in the local private client market and is 'equivalent in size and technical ability to some of the largest Cardiff-based firms'. Active across the spectrum of non-contentious and contentious work, the team generates a significant amount of mandates from third party instructions, and therefore offers a very bespoke service, as opposed to one relying on volume commoditised work. Team head Laith Khatib 'is held in high regard amongst the south Wales private client community', particularly in relation to contentious probate matters, where he is recognised as one of the market leaders. Paul Lindsey is 'something of a rarity in the field, in that he is able to advise clients on both contentious and non-contentious matters', and picks up a significant amount of work for many wealthy south Wales families including business owners and agricultural clients. 'Able to strike a perfect balance between handling matters from the straightforward, to the very complex, while maintaining an unrivalled level of client care', Lindsey is well regarded for his ability to advise on high-value Court of Protection cases, as well as handling estate planning work. The 'empathetic and very patient' Claire Davis displays a 'very thorough knowledge of her field' and is particularly accomplished at handling work associated with the elderly and protecting the interests of the more vulnerable in society.

Praised for its 'excellent industry knowledge', Hutchinson Thomas  provides 'well informed and helpful advice' across the panoply of private client matters including the preparation of wills, trust deeds, estate administration, Court of Protection applications, and powers of attorney. Now primarily based out of Swansea, since the firm opened an office there in 2016, the 'professional and very approachable' Louise Williams has excellent connections with local financial advisers and accountants who are appreciative of her 'excellent business acumen' and ability to 'identify issues and appropriate solutions taking into consideration relevant clients' individual needs and concerns'. The 'caring and very empathetic' Rhian Williams provides 'measured and succinct advice' across a wide range of wills, probate, tax and trusts matters.

With a large will bank at its disposal generated through the firm's recent mergers - most recently with Glamorgan Law -¬†JCP Solicitors¬†receives a significant flow of probate work and also generates a sizeable amount of trusts and wealth management work directly from clients as well as by dint of referrals. Now with 17 lawyers spread across the whole of south Wales, the firm is able to effectively service clients out of its offices from Fishguard in the South West to Caerphilly in the South East. Team head¬†Chris Shaw¬†has a strong reputation in the market across the spectrum of wills, trusts and probate matters and regularly represents high-net-worth individuals including sportsmen and women. Fishguard-based¬†Arwel Davies¬†and Ian Fudge¬†are 'professional, competent and easy to deal with', and¬†¬†Mike Downey, who recently joined following the merger with Glamorgan Law, oversees the lifetime planning offering across the south east of Wales.¬†As well as core private client lawyers, the firm also benefits from an ‚Äėexcellent‚Äô Court of Protection offering, where Lynne Morgan's¬†professional deputy credentials sees her handling the property and affairs of incapacitated children and adults. Richard Howells¬†is recommended for contentious probate work. .

Led by the 'extremely clever and knowledgeable' Katie Edwards, the 'professional and highly competent team of experts' at NewLaw Solicitors are 'committed to providing an excellent and value-for-money service'. A significant amount of the firm's work in the private client arena has a connection to the firm's personal injury practice, with a particular strength of the firm being its ability to provide an integrated professional deputy service within the private client group thus enabling vulnerable clients, including those with brain injuries to have their affairs managed effectively after they have lost mental capacity and in relation to the management of the settlement award. Praised for her 'practical thinking' and ability to 'make legal jargon understandable', Edwards continues to handle a large amount of wills, trusts and probate work for members of the British Medical Association. Although he is primarily noted for his personal injury expertise, Robert Thomas also regularly acts as professional deputy appointed by the Court of Protection to assist clients managing their financial affairs after they have lost mental capacity.

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 minimise their inheritance tax liabilities through, among other strategies, lifetime gifts and astute succession planning. With numerous offices across west Wales, including Carmarthen and Haverfordwest, the team represents a loyal client base including many of the region's wealthy families, many of who have agricultural property as part of their asset base. Tim Haggar and Mathew Bowen are recommended.   

'A regional leader', north Wales-based Swayne Johnson & Wight 's 20-strong private client team has the critical mass to resource an expanding client base that includes high-net-worth individuals, prominent farming families and SMEs across not just north Wales but also Cheshire and Shropshire. Praised for providing a 'high calibre and extremely proficient service', many of the team are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), including the 'very experienced and practical' Sarah Noton, who handles a mix of pure private client work as well as Court of Protection matters. The 'sensible, organised and methodical' Sian Thompson is also recommended across both private client work as well as Court of Protection matters.

The 'very experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy' team at Berry Smith regularly assists families with complex estates, often involving capital tax advice, as well as handling Court of Protection work for vulnerable clients. 'Experienced' team head Christopher Beames' 'calm and meticulous approach is very reassuring'.

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