Personal tax, trusts and probate: Cambridge in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP handles the full range of private client work including complex probate and estate administration, trust creation, administration, variation and dissolution, tax matters, wills and succession planning, lifetime tax planning, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. The practice led by the 'approachable, sympathetic, efficient, competentCaroline Stenner frequently works with the firm's family business and agriculture departments to provide an integrated service to business and farming families. One client describes the firm as 'very responsive, with the ability to turn matters around within a short time scale if required'. Rachel Winter is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Stenner

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Winter; Robert Willoughby


‘A friendly, caring and diligent firm.’

‘A very proactive team not afraid to say they need to go and find out something. I have found this very different and less arrogant than other firms.’

‘Caroline Stenner is user-friendly and personable. She is extremely experienced and sensible and very good with clients, showing both empathy and pragmatism.’

‘A very collaborative way of working to ensure that clients get the desired results.’

‘Rachel Winter’s key strengths are her technical ability and her ability to communicate complex matters to clients. She shows a willingness to work to find a solution, and to work collaboratively with other professionals to ensure excellent client service, high responsiveness and quick turnaround times.’

‘Caroline Stenner is a delight to deal with. She has excellent technical skills combined with a personality that places clients at ease.’


Hewitsons has a highly experienced practice for estate planning, complex wills and powers of attorney, trust administration and reorganisation, the administration of high-value estates, and advice on foreign assets. The firm's strong rural practice sees it handle the affairs of many clients in the farming industry, as well as large landed estates. Practice head Daniel Curtis and key partners Bernadette O’Reilly and Elizabeth Davies are all leading lights in the market, and associate Kelly Wardell is a rising star. The firm's clients include a number of estates with a net worth in excess of £100m.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Curtis

Other key lawyers:

Bernadette O’Reilly; Elizabeth Davies; Kelly Wardell; Katherine Hague


‘Friendly, approachable and professional.’

‘Bernadette O’Reilly knows her subject and explains things so they are easy to understand.’

‘The practice offers a broad range of skills and expertise – together with a “can-do” attitude and a supportive outlook.’

‘The firm is responsive and offers a good range of skills and expertise within the landed estates and farming sector.’

“Hewistons is a good firm – they are specialists in what they do – and they deliver a good, reliable service.”

“The firm has a client-focused approach. It explains legal issues in a way that makes sense to the client and has a good understanding of the emotions that clients are feeling when discussing family circumstances and challenges.”

“Bernadette O’Reilly is particularly empathetic with clients dealing with emotional circumstances.”

“All members of Hewitsons have been unfailingly professional and helpful.”

“Katherine Hague has been consistently thorough, organised, helpful and knowledgeable. At a difficult time for our family, she has been sensitive and professional in all of our interactions. She has great communication skills, along with a relaxed manner, and we could not give her a higher recommendation.”

“An exceptionally dedicated team with good clear communication between specialists and excellent clear responses, advice and billing.”

“A good clear legal and human response combined with unwavering legal expertise.”

“The solicitors were efficient, responded quickly, knew their stuff, and were practical. I would enthusiastically Elizabeth Davies for private trust and probate work.”

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP's private wealth practice frequently handles the affairs of ultra-high-net-worth clients, among which are family offices and business owners, landowners, trusts and charities. Partner Chris Belcher leads the firm-wide practice and principal associate Alex Hunt specialises in complex international tax planning, particularly pre-arrival advice, as well as the taxation of residential property holding structures such as offshore trusts. Associate Emma Watton  is also recommended for succession planning. In 2018, the firm acted for an estate with assets in the region of £500m.

Practice head(s):

Chris Belcher

Other key lawyers:

Alex Hunt; Lucy Howard; Emma Watton

Taylor Vinters

The entrepreneurial wealth practice at Taylor Vinters has nationally renowned experts in their fields including partner Jocelyn Fox, who has 30 years' experience in wills, probate and estate planning, and works with landed estates, world-renowned academics and busy professionals. She also focuses on work with vulnerable clients, being on the Mental Capacity special interest group for STEP. James Packer, who works in both London and Cambridge, is also a leading light for advising high-net-worth entrepreneurs, business owners and managers, City professionals, and non-resident or non-domiciled clients. Emma Parsons is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Wells

Other key lawyers:

James Packer; Jocelyn Fox; Adrian Horwood-Smart; Emma Parsons

Work highlights

  • Full administration of a world-renowned academic’s estate including multi-jurisdictional assets.
  • Estate planning advice for one of the largest land owners within the UK.
  • Estate planning advice for a key Cambridge Angel Investor and for his family.
  • Complex administration of a farming estate with trusts involved.
  • Comprehensive estate planning for a multimillion-pound business owner specialising in ultra-luxury property rental and sales.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal handles complex multi-jurisdictional tax and estate planning and probate matters, with a niche in French legal affairs. Among its clients are professionals, academics and agricultural families in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. It is also well known for its capability in the niche area of Vulnerable Client support and its Court of Protection case management team. Lynn Wicks leads the lifetime planning department and specialises in work for vulnerable and elderly clients. Jennie Pratt is a leading light for advice on wealth management and tax planning. Christina Duck is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Lynn Wicks

Other key lawyers:

Jennie Pratt; Christina Duck; Jack Burroughs


‘I think Ashtons Legal deliver tremendous strength in depth as a firm.’

‘I have always found the Cambridge team to be focused, efficient and very willing to assist. In all my dealings, I am kept fully informed as to the specific progress and the reasons for any delays.’

‘I have complete confidence in the team, and am more than happy to entrust my clients to them for their specialist knowledge and advice.’

‘Lynn Wicks and Jennie Pratt are also excellent, dealing with matters with clarity and knowledge and ensuring that client matters run smoothly at all times. With a working relationship of this nature, this level of reassurance is extremely comforting, giving me the confidence that all matters are being dealt with professionally and efficiently.’

‘Jennie Pratt’s knowledge and expertise is a given, and her empathetic bedside manner with clients enhances her approach. She is able to put over complex concepts simply putting clients at their ease. I can mirror the comments for Christina Duck.’

‘Lynn Wicks’ expertise is a given but her experience of later life care and her understanding and empathetic approach enhances the value of her advice and helps when delivering difficult news.’

‘The level of care and expertise and standards of dealing with clients are excellent and consistent. This compares with other firms where there is often a small number of leaders who can “leave behind” colleagues.’

‘Solicitor Jack Burroughs advised on estate planning and probate issues for mutual clients who are US citizens domiciled in the UK. It is a pleasure working with Jack and I believe we have both broadened our knowledge base as it relates to each country’s estate practice laws.’

‘I have always been impressed with paralegal Johanna Morrish – her communication is always prompt, timely and effective, and she is excellent at keeping me informed, acting as liaison with the partners and keeping everything moving.’

Greenwoods GRM

At Greenwoods GRM, head of private client Kerri Pellington-Woodrow is predominantly based in Peterborough, but also oversees the practice in Cambridge, where associate Clare Harris is the key lawyer. One client describes Harris as 'considerate and engaging, she always seeks to go the extra mile'. Harris has greatly raised the profile of the firm in Cambridge and has attracted work from high-value and complex estates, hence the firm's rising up the ranking this year. She is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and handles the full range of wills, trusts and estate planning, as well as Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Kerri Pellington-Woodrow; Clare Harris


‘The team give careful consideration to the client’s needs and ensure the work is relevant and focused on the best solution.’

‘Whenever I have approached the practice, whether by phone correspondence or email, the query has always been dealt with quickly and efficiently.’

‘Clare Harris is always prompt, courteous and easy to understand. She is extremely helpful and very good with clients, putting them at ease and dealing with them very professionally.’

‘I have found Clare Harris to be very welcoming to clients and she explains her advice and the implications clearly and in an appropriate language for them.’

‘Members of the team seem capable, knowledgeable and very supportive of each other.’

‘We dealt primarily with Clare Harris over some complicated will arrangements involving international issues. She was knowledgeable, conscientious, clear and courteous.’

‘The strength is the mixture of capabilities and specialities readily available when needed. My instructions were dealt with very efficiently and accurately and my interactions with all the team were courteous and friendly.’

‘Clare Harris provided most of the expertise I needed in the most efficient and courteous manner and our interactions were friendly yet focused.’

‘Greenwoods GRM always gives a quality service, and is very knowledgeable. Matters are dealt with promptly and when discussing planning opportunities the advice given is not just legally correct it also considers practical aspects.’

‘I usually work with Clare Harris, who always gives a quality service and always engages in planning and conversations. Clare is very friendly and explains issues with very little jargon and gives a straight answer.’

‘I found Greenwoods impressive and sophisticated, for a reasonable price. The quality of their documentation is very good. I chose Greenwoods because of its quick response, grasp of what I wanted to achieve, and the approachable personality of the people I spoke to.’

‘Clare Harris has an impressive grasp of detail and the ability to get to the point.’

Work highlights

  • Advising clients on the transfer of 450-500 acres of agricultural land into a discretionary trust to protect the farm for future generations.

Tees Law

One client describes the practice at Tees Law as 'hardworking, efficient and dedicated, making sure that their clients get the best advice and best value for money'. The practice had its busiest year since arriving in Cambridge in 2008, and it has built up a strong client base for the administration of complex and high-value estates, including those with agricultural and international elements. Catherine Mowat is a leading light in the market for wills, powers of attorney and succession planning for rural clients and high-net-worth individuals, and James Marsh and Angela Sewell are rising stars.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Mowat

Other key lawyers:

James Marsh; Angela Sewell


‘Tees may be largely based in East Anglia but the professionalism and breadth of experience would not be out of place in a City firm.’

‘For the last 20 years Catherine Mowat has handled all my family’s private client, tax planning and trust affairs. She has dealt with both my parents’ estates. Over that period she has provided clear, accurate and efficient advice, cutting through the shifting fog of legislation, but not at the expenses of personal warmth.’

‘James Marsh is an effective communicator explaining exactly what is needed and in what timescale meaning that clients’ expectations are met and managed. He is well supported by his team.’

‘Angela Sewell offers the best advice for clients in achieving their objectives.’

‘The team was incredibly understanding and bespoke in its approach.’

‘Matters are handled with great dignity and professionalism. Nothing is too much trouble and they went well beyond the call of duty to exceed expectations.’

‘James Marsh has simply been outstanding. From the moment of instruction to concluding a case, he is always attentive, knowledgeable and highly professional – whilst remaining approachable.’

‘Dedicated team members dealing with the process from start to end. Excellent communication skills throughout the process. Always prompt in replying to issues.’

‘James Marsh and paralegal Courtney Searle are able to conduct business at a level and timely manner that I can understand and converse with. They have conducted themselves in a very professional way at the same time as being understanding of why processes have to be followed.’

‘Each solicitor is specialised in their field which gives you confidence and satisfaction. We were recommended many years ago and have always made them our first choice.’

‘We have every confidence in Catherine Mowat as she has dealt with all our private and personal matters for many years during very difficult times and will continue to contact her should we have any problems.’

Work highlights

  • Angela Sewell advised on the estate of a deceased man who died domiciled in Spain and left only a Spanish will which did not appoint executors.
  • Strategic estate planning following death of client to maximise claims for inheritance tax relief and ensure distribution of assets in line with differing family objectives.
  • Instructed to extract grant of letters of administration required in order to issue proceedings in a negligence claim.
  • Advice to executors on complex issues in an estate valued in excess of £3m.
  • James Marsh advised a well-known farming client with a multimillion-pound estate on how best to structure a will in order to ensure the client’s wishes regarding the farming business and assets can be implemented.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP specialises in providing planning and strategic advice in complex situations to high-net-worth individuals, families and trusts. This includes lifetime planning, probate, powers of attorney, inheritance and capital gains tax, trusts and pensions advice. The practice is led from Norwich but in Cambridge, associate Amy Wallhead is building the firm's reputation. One client describes the practice as 'very client-service orientated – they show a deep care for making sure clients receive the very best advice'.

Woodfines LLP

Woodfines LLP has 'a great level of experience and an excellent industry reputation', and key partner Tim Addinell is 'exceptional with clients, showing great levels of patience in many cases'. The firm has a long-standing reputation as a trusted adviser on private client matters in Cambridge and frequently acts for high-net-worth clients and in complex estate planning matters. It is also well-regarded for all aspects of dealing with an estate, including inheritance tax and complex trusts.

Practice head(s):

Tim Addinell

Other key lawyers:

Alun Butler


‘Tim Addinell’s level of experience is unmatched. He is highly professional and well liked by clients.’

Work highlights

  • Estate administration with complex HMRC challenge to trust.
  • Estate administration, including business assets, inheritance tax considerations and shareholder requirements.
  • Tax planning advice incorporating overseas assets.
  • Advising beneficiaries with regards to ongoing business assets and considerations.
  • Complex estate administration, including historic marriage settlement and estate considerations.