Personal tax, trusts and probate: Cambridge in East Anglia
Birketts LLP supports individuals, landowners, businesspeople, trustees and beneficiaries in the full range of private client matters, from estate administration to lifetime tax planning. The practice works closely with its family, agriculture and corporate teams to advise rural businesses and farming families. Tim Galloway leads the firm-wide wills and advisory practice from Chelmsford but key partner Caroline Stenner is a leading light in the Cambridge market. Senior associates Rachel Winter and Kimberly Sayward are also recommended. The firm also has a dedicated trust, tax and accountancy manager in Cambridge.
'From the front desk to senior partners it has a thoroughly approachable and professional team,' remarks a client of Hewitsons. The firm, which has a chartered accountant leading on trust administration and tax returns, handles the full range of private client work including the administration of multimillion-pound estates. The 'sensible, pragmatic and knowledgeable' Daniel Curtis leads the practice. Tax and succession planning specialist Bernadette O’Reilly 'brings a very human, personal touch to the process'. Trust partner Elizabeth Davies and 'sensitive, yet professional' associate Kelly Wardell are also recommended.
‘From the front desk to senior partners Hewitsons has a thoroughly approachable and professional team.‘
‘Kelly Wardell [took] time to fully understand the circumstances under which we were meeting. She was sensitive, yet professional when my father passed away and we were dealing with his will.‘
‘My wife and I are also having our wills updated and POA sorted out via Kelly Wardell and she has been extremely thorough discussing all aspects of this and covering all options and considerations. This has made the whole process very straightforward.‘
‘I believe the company has specialist departments that can cover all the areas that are relevant to my legal and tax needs. This makes my life easier and also makes me comfortable that I’m getting good advice.‘
‘We dealt with Bernadette O’Reilly. She managed to make the meetings light-hearted, interesting and, dare I say it, enjoyable, while maintaining a completely reassuring professionalism. Bernadette was also very flexible and understanding about my wife’s disability, including ensuring that witnessing and signing was as easy as possible. Bernadette brought a very human, personal touch to the process.‘
‘We have found that this firm is very approachable and is able to assist in all areas without the need to go to other specialists.‘
‘All the individuals we have had dealings with have a very professional positive helpful and friendly approach: Jennifer Koch, Daniel Curtis and Mary Beasley.‘
‘I worked with a partner, Daniel Curtis, whom I had first met in my capacity as a trustee of a charity which received a bequest from an estate that he was administering. I found him sensible, pragmatic and knowledgeable. He was a natural choice when my wife and I needed personal assistance with our wills and estates, and he did not disappoint.‘
Mills & Reeve LLP has a national private client practice that is led from Cambridge and which caters for a large number of ultra-high-net-worth clients, among which are family offices, business owners, landowners, trusts and charities. Practice head Chris Belcher acts for wealthy UK and international individuals and families on tax, trusts and estates matters. Among his clients are owners of substantial businesses and internationally renowned sports people. Principal associate Alex Hunt specialises in complex international tax planning, particularly pre-arrival advice. Associate Emma Watton is also recommended.
‘The private client team of Mills & Reeve in Cambridge give London-style advice and service but based out of the provinces. Their depth of knowledge is excellent and their advice is technical yet practical.’
‘Chris Belcher is excellent; clients really appreciate his relaxed and easy demeanour particularly as it is backed up with excellent technical advice and support.’
Taylor Vinters acts for high-net-worth clients across East Anglia and beyond, with a growing number of clients based in London or abroad. Its principal focus is on entrepreneurs and the owners of high-growth companies and landed estates. Jackie Wells leads both the entrepreneurial wealth and family law groups. James Packer acts for high-net-worth entrepreneurs, business owners and City professionals. Over the last 30 years, Jocelyn Fox has built a national client base for wills, probate and estate planning. In-house estate planning surgeries to top professional partnerships are led by 'knowledgeable, friendly and responsive' senior associate Fiona Lewsey.
‘The firm has a combination of significant resources and a friendly personal approach.‘
‘Our main adviser is Fiona Lewsey who is knowledgeable, friendly and responsive and willing to give broad advice as well as technical advice.‘
‘Peter Moore manages trusts well and is approachable and responsive.‘
‘They are on top of their brief, well informed, proactive and efficient.‘
‘James Packer and Fiona Lewsey are both excellent and a pleasure to deal with.‘
‘I rate the estate planning team very highly, especially Fiona Lewsey and James Packer. I started working with James in 2009 and he later introduced me to Fiona who has for some years undertaken all of my work. She has a highly professional and personable style, combining a detailed understanding of the law with an ability to apply her knowledge and experience in a highly practical and relevant way. She is completely on top of her facts, does what she says she will do in the time frame she commits to, and all for a reasonable fee.‘
‘Fiona Lewsey is always highly responsive even during busy periods and as a client you feel highly valued. As a family we feel very comfortable with her support on our estate and wealth planning. She also acts as the gateway into other parts of the firm as and when needed, always taking the time and effort to make the right introductions.‘
‘I feel like the tone comes from the top, as the partner/senior associate team ultimately in charge of my account – James Packer and Fiona Lewsey – are personable, knowledgeable and, dare I say it, unpretentious and unstuffy. This ethos goes deep into the firm and TV people come across as highly personable, yet skilled and knowledgeable. They place a premium on relationships so that clients are not just transactional. It reminds me of a great neighbourhood restaurant, punching well above its weight, that secretly you hope that people from outside the area do not find out about, in case you can no longer get a table.‘
‘They combine a high level of competence with a degree of informality which make meetings less challenging.‘
‘Our main contact is Fiona Lewsey who has proved both knowledgeable and understanding in difficult family situations.‘
Clients describe the private client practice at Ashtons Legal as 'thoughtful, careful and accurate but also caring of the needs and situation of the client'. The firm handles complex multi-jurisdictional tax, estate planning and probate, with a particular niche in French legal affairs. It also deals with tax and estate planning for the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire professional, academic and agricultural communities. Lynn Wicks, Jennie Pratt and senior associate Christina Duck are the key names to note.
‘I am very impressed with the individuals that I have encountered. Compared to US lawyers, of whom I have had considerable experience, I find the individuals at Ashtons to be thoughtful, careful and accurate but also caring of the needs and situation of the client.‘
‘The firm has a very client-friendly approach with low jargon use, but real professionalism in delivering the advice. This ethos seems to run right the way through the firm making it a great regional firm across all disciplines.‘
‘The individuals are a pleasure to deal with and deliver the right result.‘
The Cambridge office of Greenwoods GRM plays an increasingly important role in the firm-wide private client practice, drawing on expertise in the London and Peterborough offices. The firm acts for a growing number of entrepreneurs and clients in the agricultural sector. Senior associate Clare Harris leads the local team and one client remarks that 'she has a great style - firm but personable and very knowledgeable'. 'My experience of Greenwoods is right up there with the best - excellent advice and prompt service,' notes another.
‘I have met with and worked with Clare Harris over several years now. She has a great style – firm but personable and very knowledgeable. As a professional she is dedicated towards her development and increasing her knowledge and that comes across when you meet her.‘
‘My experience of Greenwoods is right up there with the best. Excellent advice, prompt service, sympathetic to our needs and a pleasure to do business with. The issues we needed support with were not complicated but they did have serious issues that needed dealing with carefully and I can’t imagine anyone else dealing with them in a more efficient and competent way.‘
‘I only worked with Clare Harris who I cannot praise enough. She provided an excellent service, was very knowledgeable about the issues we were dealing with and above all took time to listen to our concerns.‘
‘The only member of the team that I know is Clare Harris, who came highly recommended by a friend. She is very pleasant and highly efficient which is all I needed.‘
Tees Law is a full-service private client firm that clients describe as 'friendly, kind, caring, knowledgeable and responsive'. Among its clients in the Cambridge area are high-net-worth individuals, academics, business owners, farmers and landowners. Practice head Catherine Mowat has particular expertise in deputyships and other Court of Protection work. Senior associate James Marsh is recommended for his work on trusts, tax planning and the affairs of the elderly.
Other key lawyers:
‘Tees have expanded rapidly in recent years, but has kept its traditions as a family firm at the core of their business.‘
‘The team has been helpful to me and my late mother in a range of ways that I feel go above and beyond the strict job description. In particular, they responded very quickly to her when she wanted legal help urgently when she discovered she was terminally ill. As she died two weeks later, Tees’ quick and helpful response was a great gift to her and so to me.‘
‘I have worked with three individuals at Tees over the last two years, and have found them all to be friendly, kind, caring, knowledgeable and responsive. Catherine Mowat in particular.‘
- Careful handling of a deceased client’s estate, requiring particular skill to deal with the matter expediently and protect the assets appropriately for the beneficiary.
- Advice to a client on incorporating a discretionary trust in his will to ensure that grandchildren’s educations were suitably paid for.
- Advice on and assistance with setting up a bespoke charitable trust.
'They are technically excellent, but put this across to clients in a friendly and understandable manner,' say clients of Woodfines LLP. The firm supports numerous high-net-worth clients with complex estate planning matters, but it has a broad client base in terms of the value of clients' estates. The firm also administers estates on death, handling inheritance tax and complex trusts. 'Extremely knowledgeable solicitor and very likeable' practice head Tim Addinell, a long-time STEP member, leads the firm largest department. He recruited 'smart, friendly, efficient and effective' solicitor Jenny Barker who joined from Taylor Vinters.
Other key lawyers:
‘My dealings have been with Jenny Barker who drew up a will for me. I was immediately impressed with her. Jenny was not only smart and friendly but she had great attention to detail. I felt she cared about her work and clients and kept me informed about the progress of my matter. She pointed out ramifications of my choices that I hadn’t considered and guided me in the gentlest and most tactful way possible. All email enquires and changes were dealt with very promptly. She was able to be informal and approachable whilst being completely professional, efficient and effective. I would certainly recommend her.‘
‘They provide partner-led service at an acceptable fee level.‘
‘They are technically excellent, but put this across to clients in a friendly and understandable manner.‘
‘I have previously worked with Tim Addinell, who has now taken over the management of the private client team in the Cambridge office. Tim is an extremely knowledgeable solicitor and a very likeable person and I find that my clients enjoy meeting with and taking advice from him.‘
‘Woodfines LLP saw through the administration of the estate of my late mother, of which I was executor. At each stage of the process I found the firm most efficient, patient and clear in explaining various stages of the process, and in dealing with matters that cropped up, along with my own questions. They were also approachable and sympathetic at a difficult time. Everything was clearly explained and everything was managed entirely smoothly, with the same level of courtesy and efficiency being maintained. This was a credit to the teamwork within the firm. Members of reception staff were consistently helpful and courteous.‘
‘Jennifer Barker was clearly on top of things straight away. She kept in touch regularly, and was personable and reassuring in phone conversations and in other correspondence. Thanks to her professionalism, competence and approachability, I felt that the administration of my mother’s estate was in very safe hands.‘
Howes Percival LLP has a small private client team in Cambridge, but it calls upon the significant resources of the firm-wide practice that is led by Catherine Scott in Norwich. Senior associate Amy Wallhead in Cambridge handles estate planning, probate, powers of attorney and trusts, as well as acting for deputies in the Court of Protection. She also has a focus on mental capacity issues and dementia.
Other key lawyers:
‘This is a strong team with a depth of knowledge and experience.’
‘I like the mix of personalities within the team – there is someone for everyone (young and older). Also value their depth of experience, especially the senior team members.’