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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 > West Midlands > 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

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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For some, Higgs & Sonsis the strongest firm in the Midlands outside of Birmingham’ for tax, trust and probate work. Nick Moxon, whose practice revolves around tax planning and trust administration, leads the practice, which includes the ‘thorough and ablePeter Gosling, who is rated by clients for ‘thinking through complicated issues and providing practical solutions’. He focuses on wealth planning issues for high-net-worth individuals, with particular expertise in the rural sector. Lucy Obrey and Robert Leek recently advised on the implementation of a family investment company and trust administration respectively. The partners are supported at associate level by STEP member Sarah Potter and wills and inheritance tax specialist Kate Newton.

Lodders Solicitors LLP’s private client practice is led by the ‘outstandingMartin Green and is supported by the ‘swift, accommodating and soundStephen Brignull, the ‘pragmatic and efficientSofia Tayton, and the ‘thoroughly pleasant and approachableLouise Igoe. High-net-worth individuals with considerable business interests make up a substantial proportion of the firm’s client base, for which it handles all private client matters with special emphasis on tax and estate planning, as well as care and capacity work. Ian Flavell provides advice to landed estates and historic houses; he acted for the owners of an estate in the North with regards to tax and estate planning ahead of the anticipated transfer of the property and its ownership to their son. Senior associate Jessica Beddows, formerly of Harrison Clark Rickerbys, joined the Straford-upon-Avon office while associate Natalie Smith joined the Cheltenham office.

Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘an excellent firm’ with a ‘very strong team’ led by national private wealth head Matthew Hansell, who is a ‘fine example of the complete family adviser'. The ‘very approachableJohn Grundy leads the Birmingham private client team and is supported by principal associate Sarah Wood and senior associate Adam Williams, who ‘can think on his feet and come up with innovative ideas’. The practice handles comprehensive cross-border reviews and restructurings of trusts and family businesses for wealthy international families. Wood advised a landed estate client on a restructuring to increase business property relief claim, while Grundy handled all private client work including tax and pension death planning for a former business owner. He also assisted a wealthy family with pre-and-post-nuptial agreements to facilitate estate planning and wealth protection.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP assists wealthy individuals, families, trustees and entrepreneurs with all aspects of domestic and international private client matters. The three-partner team is led by tax and wealth planning expert Clare Laird – who regularly advises lottery winners – in Solihull, and inheritance and wealth protection specialist Lesley Davis in Birmingham. Anne Tromans is currently handling the administration of a complex estate to maximise the potential inheritance for its residual beneficiaries, while Laird advised an individual based overseas with regards to their UK assets so that they may be passed to their children at their time of death. Associates Hannah Tait and Verity Kirby – who are based in Solihull and Birmingham, respectively – regularly support the partners with regards to Court of Protection matters and lasting powers of attorney.

Clients consider Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP to be ‘one of the few private client teams in the Midlands that combines expertise with a first-class service to clients’. In addition to providing the full range for private client advice, the firm also acts for vulnerable adults in Court of Protection work. Senior associate Alex Elphinstone ‘is very knowledgeable and well-connected’; he regularly handles wills and trusts for the disabled and manages overseas estates and assets. Associate Lisa Whitehouse is ‘a rising star with great technical knowledge and delivers a truly exceptional service’; she recently supported ‘superb technician’ and practice head Donna Holmes as an independent administrator for an estate in the context of a dispute between the executors and beneficiaries. The team recently recruited Clare Burke from Wright Hassall LLP. Senior associates James Hall and Sheree Green are also recommended.

The ‘prompt, courteous and creativeRoger Williams co-heads DWF’s private client practice with the Manchester-based Paul Davies and advises on wills, trusts, estate administration and Court of Protection work. In recent highlights, Williams acted as the trustee for several discretionary trusts for a wealthy couple looking to minimise the impact of inheritance tax on their estate, and acted for a client with regards to the severance of assets from an ongoing trust giving rise to complex arrangements in the context of the relationships between various beneficiaries.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s ‘excellent’ team ‘stands head and shoulders above the competition’, according to one client. Deputyship expert Julie Burn heads the practice in Wolverhampton, which has niche expertise in areas such as community care and Court of Protection. The ‘knowledgeable, professional, reliable and trustworthyAndrew Vernon focuses on high-value tax and estate planning for clients in the rural and renewable energy sectors. Margaret Rowe in Telford handled several international estate management matters involving significant business, property and cash assets, while Wolverhampton-based solicitor Will Jones led the advice on a client’s surrender of life interest in a property. Craig Ridge and Philip Cowell, based in Wolverhampton and Telford, respectively are also recommended.

Lanyon Bowdler is known to clients for its ‘excellent communication, prompt responses and reliability’. Giles Scott is based in the Ludlow office and heads the practice, which includes Kevin Thomas and Charles Almond – based in Oswestry and Hereford respectively – and associate Neil Davies, who heads the practice’s dedicated Court of Protection team. Recent highlights include advising an individual on the administration of his personal injury trust, which involved the setting up of a portfolio of investments and the acquisition of a property, and representing the executors in complicated estate succession matter. Assistant solicitor Lucy Speed is also recommended.

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s clients find the wills, trusts and probate team, led by Tracy Creed, to be ‘extremely professional and efficient in all engagements and dealings’. The practice has substantial experience acting on behalf of vulnerable elderly clients in connection with care work and funding. Solicitor Ravinder Sandhu (whose ‘knowledge in this field is wide and deep’) recently assisted a client with the removal of an executor from an estate, and handled the administration of an estate according to a will, which was complicated by unclear paternity links and genealogical evidence. Clients also recommend ‘very good and helpful’ solicitor Nicholas Bennett, who is based in Shirley and acted for clients with regards to locating missing wills and applications for grants of probate.

Wright Hassall LLP strengthened its personal tax practice with the recruitment of Eamonn Daly from Lodders Solicitors LLP, and on the non-contentious side with the hiring of Susan Floyd from Knights Professional Services Limited. John Rouse specialises in advising farmers and landowners on estate and succession planning. In recent highlights, the firm oversaw tax planning for the legal counsel of a FTSE100 company, and acted for an estate involving valuable art, jewellery and property overseas. The team is supported by senior associate Anna Sutcliffe, whose caseload pertains to contentious probate and professional negligence claims related to estates; and Martin Oliver, who acts for charities on contentious work concerning inheritance tax and income legacy.

Clients rate the advice provided by Ansons as ‘clear, appropriate to clients’ needs, reflective of their wishes, and great value of money’. The team, which is led by Marie Tisdale (who attracts praise for her ‘friendly yet business-like manner’) services clients on the full spectrum of private client issues, including professional deputy and lasting powers of attorney cases. She is supported by senior associate Shelly Wainwright, who advises clients on a wide array of non-contentious wills and estates work, and legal executives Tracey Lane – based in Cannock – and Rebecca Taylor. Notable work included liaising with HMRC and financial institutions regarding inheritance tax on a landed property and significant equity assets, and locating a will pertaining to overseas assets. All named individuals are based in Lichfield unless otherwise stated.

Beswicks Legal’s private client department is based in Stoke-on-Trent and jointly headed by Howard Heath, who focuses on inheritance tax planning and elderly client care, and Kate Sutherland, who handles substantial wealth protection matters involving complex and delicate family complications. She represented a woman seeking to secure the care of her mother which was taken away from her following complaints made to the local authority. Qualified STEP member and solicitor Juliette Carter has strong experience in high-value tax issues and acted on the creation of a trust for a client who wanted recent proceeds protected from him.

At Gateley Plc, tax specialist and practice head Catriona Attride acts as a trustee and deputy on several high-value settlements, and has developed strong expertise in UK-to-US cross-border transactions. The team recently advised a lottery winner who established trusts and entrusted them to Attride. Alexia Haines supported Attride with regards to a longstanding lifetime interest trust including assets in Canada. Solicitor Hannah Turner assisted a successful business executive who relocated abroad in connection with establishing trusts in the US. Since publication, Fiona Debney has joined from Clarke Willmott LLP.

According to one client, Harrison Clark Rickerbysis the most effective and knowledgeable practice in the area’ and ‘efficient and up-to-date in terms of both advice and technology’. ‘Very competent’ department head Dawn Oliver ‘understands client requirements sympathetically and is commercially savvy’. She works alongside Shirley Rabbetts, who advises farmers on inheritance issues regarding agricultural property. The practice’s client roster mainly consists of wealthy landowners and high-net-worth individuals, for which the team handles the preparation and management of wills pertaining to investment portfolios, family trusts and appointing lasting powers of attorney to protect elderly and incapacitated clients.

Knights Professional Services Limited focuses its practice on succession planning and trust work. Charles Jones has strong experience in inheritance tax work and specialises in protecting personal and business assets through mitigation and implementing arrangements through wills and trusts. Other key contacts include Lindsey Howland, who specialises in high-value estate administration and handles potentially contentious work, especially in the context of property and family issues. She also acts for clients in the drafting of statutory wills and Court of Protection matters.

Key figures at MFG Solicitors LLP include Valerie Robinson in Kidderminster and Ludlow-based Peter Stephens, who has strong experience in the appointment of deputies and acting for the vulnerable. The team underwent some changes with Alastair Brierley becoming a consultant in Ludlow, and the promotion to associate level of Kim Scolari and Amanda Piper, in Telford and Worcester respectively, and Gill Browne in Kidderminster. Also based in Kidderminster, Tracy Ashby is advising on the terms of the partnership and the assets contained within the will of a former partner in a farming business, while Gary Priest, assisted trustees with regards to a property purchase abroad and manages an ongoing family trust containing high-value property and investment assets.

Mander Hadley Solicitors’ private client team, which is rated as ‘excellent in all areas’, is led by David Webb, who is ‘approachable, trustworthy, knowledgeable, professional and reliable’. Associate director Caroline Dobson is ‘very professional, with a warm heart’ and contributes to the team’s specialism in acting for mentally incapacitated clients in deputyship and Court of Protection work. Other areas of expertise include the administration of estates and the drafting of wills, including managing cash, equity and property assets. Solicitor Andriy Buniak and executive Linsey Graham are also recommended.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, Janet Hoskin specialises in handling commercial trust matters and advising insurance clients on trust products. Key clients include Aegon, Simplyhealth and Scottish Widows. Senior associate Chris Thomas supports Hoskin and handles all areas of tax law for executives, including tax-efficient remuneration structures.

Senior associate Lynda Richards heads the Shrewsbury office at Aaron & Partners LLP; she is rated for her ‘outstanding knowledge’ and is ‘both punctual in correspondence and appointments’. The firm undertakes high-value tax and estate planning, and recently advised an individual with regards to substantial offshore trusts and prepared inheritance tax-efficient wills for clients with sizeable estates and property assets. Paralegal Jo Heath is also recommended.

At Alsters Kelley LLP, Neil Raiseborough heads the private client department from the Coventry office and primarily handles complex high-value estates administration and tax planning. He also acts as a deputy for several longstanding clients and is supported by solicitor Tanya Ghuman, who advises on the full range of private client work and specialises in will drafting, tax, and estate planning and administration.

Michelle Gavin heads Band Hatton Button LLP’s private client department, whose ‘experienced and knowledgeable lawyers respond promptly to requests for advice and provide clear and straightforward guidance’. Gavin ‘quickly establishes a clear understanding of her clients’ needs and takes a keen interest in their family affairs’, and assisted an elderly couple with regards to tax planning, lasting powers of attorney and health and welfare issues. The practice is supported by Charlotte Macalister and Christina Polychronakis, whio recently joined the practice. Jasmine Coles left the firm.

Brethertons LLP is ‘beyond excellent’ and its lawyers make ’all other solicitors look like trainees’, according to one client. Private client practice head Linda Jonescombines technical brilliance, steely determination and great emotional empathy’; she is supported by associate Anji Arkell, who manages the teams in Rugby, Bicester and Banbury. In recent highlights, Nadiya Virani-Bland acted as deputy for a woman who lost virtually all capacity in a car accident and represented her in a dispute against her husband who allegedly caused the accident. Solicitor Laura Stuart handles will drafting and estate administration.

Clarke Willmott LLP administers numerous estates, including those containing trading businesses, under the leadership of the Bristol-based Anthony Fairweather. In Birmingham, Matthew Parr has experience assisting newly wealthy clients with planning for the future through lifetime and will trusts; and legal executive Anne Gillespie specialises in estate administration. The team recently applied for a grant of probate with regards to a client’s wish to obtain a high-value property following its fall into disrepair at the hands of an incapacitated relative. Since publication, Fiona Debney has joined Gateley Plc.

At Emms Gilmore Liberson, Terry Cooper advises on the administration of estates, inheritance tax and trusts, and is assisted by director Stephen Gilmore and consultant Simon Denslow. Cooper recently advised on the inheritance tax implications of a majority shareholder’s sale of his shares to the directors of his company, who happen to be his sons. Gilmore is acting for a client with four high-value family trusts.

At GHP LegalVictoria Wilson in Oswestry specialises in non-contentious probate work and has extensive experience in the preparation of trust deeds, Court of Protection matters, and estate administration. Recent highlights include representing a previous personal injury claimant for whom Wilson now acts as a professional deputy, and administrating and preparing wills for high-net-worth individuals in the possession of substantial property assets.

George Green LLP’s private client practice attracts praise for its ‘sound advice and prompt responses’. Claire Pottinger and Louise Axford ‘deal promptly with queries and research matters when appropriate’. Pottinger specialises in the setting up of trusts, administrating estates, and setting up powers of attorney, predominantly for local business owners and managers; she recently advised a client with respect to the administration of an estate complicated by several factors, including failed potentially exempt transfers, assets which may potentially qualify for business property relief, and life policy trusts with missing deeds of appointment. Associate Anne Jenkin-Smith departed for HCB Solicitors, legal executive Sharon Rowley became self-employed, and previous practice head Emma Wing joined Linder Myers’s Shrewsbury office.

The lawyers at Pickerings Solicitors LLPdeliver their expertise at the correct price point’ and ‘the overall level of service is excellent’. Emma Harrison heads the wills and probate team and recently restructured a will, which involved the preparation of a lifetime trust for life insurance. She also advised an individual on the amendment of her will to allow her husband’s estate to fall into a discretionary trust to protect the vulnerable beneficiary. Harrison is assisted by solicitor Desmond Saunders, who has particular expertise assisting elderly and incapacitated clients with lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. Also recommended are legal executive Lucy Cooling and recently qualified solicitor Ahsley Latham.

Talbots Law’s speciality lies in Court of Protection work and cross-border estate administration. Director Adrian Mabe heads the firm’s trusts and estates department primarily from the Stourbridge office and handles the full range of private client work, including charity law and lasting powers of attorney. Other key names include directors Gillian Bowskill, whose client roster mainly consists of elderly and disabled individuals, and Melanie Blackburn, who splits her time between the Codsall and Wolverhampton offices.

At Shoosmiths LLPCatherine Elliott, who joined from Clarke Willmott LLP heads the practice in Birmingham and is assisted by associate Sarah Cairns. The practice handles the full range of private client matters, including cross-border estate management, care work, and the rectification of invalid deeds of appointment and retirement for various family trusts.

Thomas Guise Solicitors provides ‘a caring and comprehensive service; its advice reflects a strong knowledge of the area’. Key figures include Amanda Oakes, whose ‘positive, professional and cheerful approach is very reassuring’, and the ‘friendly and easy to communicate with’ Nicola Thomas. Thomas specialises in drafting wills and probate work, namely for Chinese clients with UK assets, while Oakes focuses on estate administration with property elements. Recent work includes drafting and amending wills, and acting on behalf of elderly and disabled clients in connection with lasting powers of attorney issues. Solicitor Zoe Dale recently joined the practice from Thomson & Bancks Solicitors and is recommended alongside director Wayne Thomas.

Michelle Hetheridge leads Thursfields Solicitors’s wills and estates department and has developed strong expertise in succession planning work. The team consists of director and care work specialist Steve Pitts in Kidderminster, and Worcester-based associates David Emery-Jones and Deborah Beal, who joined from Higgs & Sons. The firm recently advised on succession planning on behalf of a family-run business alongside the firm’s corporate group, applied to the Court of Protection to appoint Pitts as health and welfare deputy, and obtained grants of probate for high-value estates. Judith Bonegal retired in February 2017.

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

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

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    - Falcon Chambers

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