Personal tax, trusts and probate: elsewhere in East Anglia in East Anglia

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal, which garners praise for 'the quality of communication and swift response times', acts for many agricultural clients and business owners across Suffolk. Its team's expertise includes wills, probate, trusts, the administration of estates and long-term care planning. Niche areas of specialism includes French wills and cross-border inheritance tax and probate matters. Practice head Alan Brown, who has 'exceptional knowledge', and the 'confident and knowledgeable' Matthew Cameron, who is known for his expertise in French law, are the key partners in Bury St Edmunds. Senior associate Janette Wand leads the lifetime planning group in Ipswich.

Practice head(s):

Alan Brown

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Cameron; Janette Wand; Faye Stolls; Chris Cumberbatch

Testimonials

‘The practice has a relaxed and unstuffy atmosphere, which is so much more conducive to natural engagement compared with other firms I have used. This is excellent.’

‘Matthew Cameron was confident and knowledgeable throughout our property purchase transaction. A pleasure to work with him.’

‘I have found the Ashtons team extremely professional to deal with. They are a large firm for the region and have many areas of specialism. Recently I have dealt with the private client team but have dealt with others solicitors and has no complaints. The firm also is very active in the local community.’

‘Faye Stolls is excellent, efficient and a pleasure to work with.’

‘I find the quality of communication and swift response times very helpful.’

‘Down to earth individuals who are very approachable. Good local presence.’

‘Chris Cumberbatch is very friendly and knowledgeable. Alan Brown has exceptional knowledge.’

‘Alan Brown is always approachable and willing to share his knowledge for the benefit of a client.’

Work highlights

  • Administering the estates of two related individuals who died leaving complex interconnected assets including shares, agricultural and business assets and land under development with a multi-million pound total value. Advising the beneficiaries on the best way forward to mitigate tax liabilities.
  • Advising an executor on a pair of cross-border multimillion-pound contested estates on referral from an overseas lawyer for a UK based client.
  • Advising a Luxembourg-based UK national on English and international wills, with provision for UK business and other assets, discretionary trusts and inter-spousal transfers to maximize available allowances, advising on and revising historic spousal bypass pension and insurance trusts and dovetailing advice with the French property team for assets in that jurisdiction.

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee in Ipswich is 'a breath of fresh air to deal with - the whole team is helpful and professional at all times'. Alongside the full range of wills, trusts, tax planning, estate administration and Court of Protection matters, the firm frequently represents families and individuals at inquests into sudden deaths. Partner James Skellorn and Nick Palmer, along with associate and STEP member Ann-Marie Matthews, are the key practitioners. They lead a large team of associates, among whom Katie Emerson is praised for her 'calm and patient manner'.

Practice head(s):

James Skellorn; Nick Palmer; Ann-Marie Matthews

Other key lawyers:

Katie Emerson; Peter Gooch

Testimonials

‘We have found Barker Gotelee Solicitors very easy to deal with.’

‘Katie was of vital and necessary assistance in advancing things to a satisfactory outcome for my circumstances. The path was quite varied and changing but Katie dealt with it and kept me generally reassured when I at times felt frustrated with what I was up against.’

‘I could write pages of praise. Katie Emerson is professional and pragmatic and has helped me and my family resolve our legal issue with kindness and compassion. I am deeply grateful for all her hard work and actively recommend Barker Gotelee to friends and family.’

‘Barker Gotelee solicitors have been a breath of fresh air to deal with. I have had to deal with three different legal practices in the past two years and wish that I had dealt with Barker Gotelee Solicitors from the start.’

‘Ann-Marie has been the shining light of my experience with Barker Gotelee. Ann-Marie is the epitome of everything you require in a solicitor. I have been so well informed of the progress on each and every issue.’

‘We have always found the whole team in the Private Client area to be helpful and professional at all times. There is always someone available to and we feel confident that the answers we receive from them are correct.’

‘We deal predominantly with Ann-Marie Matthews. She is always helpful and approachable. She carries out her work in a professional manner whilst having a natural ability for empathy.’

Birketts LLP

The Ipswich office of Birketts LLP is a key hub for its cross-office private client practice. Led by partner Louise Long, the ‘highly knowledgeable, flexible and detail-focused‘ group acts for a diverse mix of business owners, farmers, high-net-worth individuals, landed estates, retirees and the elderly. In addition to handling the full range of domestic matters, the firm also advises on complex cross-border and non-domicile issues. ‘Very precise, detailed, client-focused‘ senior associate Richard Guy is recommended for his support of family-owned businesses.

Practice head(s):

Louise Mary Long

Other key lawyers:

Richard Guy; James Dinwiddy

Testimonials

‘Birketts has a very strong presence and brand and is well respected in the area.’

‘Excellent technical ability and service levels.’

‘James Dinwiddy – thoughtful and clear advice.’

‘Highly knowledgeable, flexible and detail-focused.’

‘Richard Guy – very precise, detailed, client-focused.’

‘Birketts are very responsive and on top of their game in advising clients both proactive and reactively.’

‘Richard Guy, who I predominantly work with has a wide breadth of knowledge. When I introduce a client I have my own ideas of what they may need but he always does his job comprehensively, building on my straw man plan and putting the detail behind what is required, more importantly, recommending a more appropriate course of action if it is the right thing to do.’

Gotelee Solicitors

Gotelee Solicitors has four offices across Suffolk and each one has a strong private client team. The practice frequently advises individuals and family businesses on all aspects of wills, trusts, probate, tax and estate administration. The firm has a close relationship with Age UK Suffolk and every member of its team has undergone dementia training. Partners Peter Crix and Karina Jowitt in Ipswich, Matthew Boast in Felixstowe, Nicola Weldon in Woodbridge and Kay Baker in Hadleigh give the firm an impressive bench of talent across Suffolk.

Practice head(s):

Peter Crix; Matthew Boast; Nicola Weldon; Karina Jowitt; Kay Baker

Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds has a private client practice that assists clients across East Anglia, London and further afield nationwide, thanks to its 'responsive, willing and able team with the right skills and experience'. The firm is adept at handling complex taxable estates, trusts, wills, probate and Court of Protection applications. Wayne Perrin, Jonathan Mathers and  are the key partners and they are supported by a large junior team. Tax directors Martine Swaep and Nigel Scase are highlighted for 'their attention to detail and knowledge'.

Practice head(s):

Wayne Perrin; Jonathan Mathers

Other key lawyers:

Zoe Hodge; Martine Swaep; Nigel Scase

Testimonials

‘Responsive, willing and able team with the right skills and experience. Very good customer experience from start to finish.’

‘Ms Zoe Hodge was able to deal with our requests efficiently and effectively. She was very responsive and could be relied upon to do what she said she would do in the timeframe explained.’

‘As a well-established part of Bury St Edmunds, this firm provides a very professional service within the town. It is very friendly, preferring to work on first name terms once a relationship has been established.’

‘I think this practice has managed to maintain a very personal presence during this last difficult year. They have kept their offices open (albeit with the necessary restrictions) and I have always felt confident that I could contact the relevant personnel for advice and assistance.’

‘Communication over the past year has been made harder because of Covid but I have felt confident and reassured in the advice and support provided to me. They have explained issues clearly and have provided very valuable support.’

‘We found the firm coped with Covid extremely well, when they closed their offices staff worked from home, but you would never had known, work was carried out as normal, calls diverted to their home lines, various matters emailed, everything worked as normal like clockwork.’

‘All staff from receptionists to lawyers that we dealt with acted in a caring, professional manner. They had qualities to listen to us, ask any appropriate questions to us and offer their expertise to us. We dealt with Martine Swaep, we were impressed by all the work and advice she gave us.’

Buckles Solicitors LLP

Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough provides 'real world advice and has subject matter experts who are friendly and approachable'. The firm advises individuals, trustees and business owners on the full range of private client matters in the UK and across European jurisdictions. Newly promoted partner Rebekkah Cooper leads the private client practice, working closely with dual-qualified Spanish abogado and UK solicitor Alejandro Verdu de Haro, who leads on international matters. Wealth preservation specialist Duncan Jackson and lifetime planning partner Stephen Duffy also play key roles in the practice. In the Stamford office, Sarah Westwood is a specialist in care home fee planning.

Practice head(s):

Rebekkah Cooper; Alejandro Verdu de Haro

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Westwood; Duncan Jackson; Stephen Duffy

Testimonials

‘The team offers real-world advice and has subject matter experts in their fields. They are friendly and approachable, and are happy to discuss needs without turning on the clock. Referrals between staff are commonplace to put you in touch with the right adviser and there is no in-fighting or ‘my client my advice’ approach.’

‘All the lawyers and partners are intelligent, think outside the box and offer practical advice and alternative options clearly and in simple English.’

Fosters

The Wymondham office of Fosters plays a key role in the firm's Norfolk-based private client practice, which handles wills, trusts, probate, Court of Protection matters and estate administration for clients across the county. Newly promoted partner Lisa Glynne, who is 'a shining light in what is essentially a very dark and sad time', leads the practice. Legal executive and STEP member Angela Ireland is 'extremely professional and compassionate'.

Practice head(s):

Lisa Glynne

Other key lawyers:

Angela Ireland

Testimonials

‘Lisa went to extraordinary lengths to spare me and my brother any unnecessary difficulties with legal jargon and made what form-filling we had to do as easy and straightforward as possible. She was always prompt and helpful in responding to our enquiries, and friendly and approachable at all times.’

‘I had dealings with Angela Ireland and Lisa Glynne. They both provided outstanding service, were extremely professional and compassionate.’

‘Lisa Glynne was a shining light in what is essentially a very dark and sad time, going through bereavement. Lisa and the team she led successfully and quickly navigated us through the paperwork and process, ensuring a speedy and effortless experience in obtain my grandmother’s probate. The team were always available for a phone call or would swiftly return our call, even during lockdown, where the team were working from home.’

‘Lisa Glynne was very friendly, sensitive to our position and understanding. Thankfully I have not experienced the need to obtain probate before or with another firm, but I couldn’t imagine another firm coming close to Fosters, nor do I believe another solicitor would have helped us quite like Lisa did.’

‘A very professional group of individuals that work together as a team.’

‘Their personal and approachable manner, ability to handle every situation with a bespoke approach for every client.’

Greenwoods Legal

Greenwoods GRM has a large private client practice that works in an integrated manner across all of its offices to assist high-net-worth clients with wills, estate planning, trusts and complex tax matters. Names to note includ associate Anna Turner, who has particular experience of handling matters for elderly clients. Fellow Associate Rebecca Towey is recommended for her ‘very helpful and professional‘ approach to will drafting.

Other key lawyers:

Anna Turner; Rebecca Towey

Testimonials

‘The team were extremely easy to communicate with keeping us informed at all stages of the proceedings. Quick responses at a period of time when things were difficult (COVID-19). Very good face-to-face meetings.’

‘Rebecca Towey was very helpful and professional in drawing up and dealing with my will and LPA. All information and advice was clearly stated and understandable, on the phone and in written correspondence. She understood my needs and responded in good time, so she made the whole process seamless.’

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP has 'an old-fashioned ethos to client service' across its office network. The team is noted for its skills in tax planning and wills preparation for high-net-worth individuals and families, and it frequently deals with estates with a value in excess of £1.5m. Private client head Paddy Appleton in Oundle and lead wills, trusts and probate partner Henry Anstey in Peterborough are veteran practitioners with a loyal following. Associates Sallyann Short (who is 'great with clients and very quick to respond') and Sally Power are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Henry Anstey; Paddy Appleton

Other key lawyers:

Sallyann Short; Sally Power

Testimonials

‘The fees charged are absolutely fantastic for the efficient and very professional work done.’

‘Sally Power – what a classy lady and so on top of her game and advice. A highly professional individual, who I would thoroughly recommend. The fees were more than acceptable.’

‘They are well versed in dealing with the general matters that we come across, but also have the expertise to deal with the more complicated cases as well.’

‘They have an old-fashioned ethos to client service, which I like. Are always very transparent on fees, which is great for clients.’

‘Sallyann Short – great with clients, very quick to respond. Excellent knowledge. Very easy to work with in a team. Always puts clients first.’

Butcher Andrews

At Butcher Andrews in Fakenham, the advice is ‘‘friendly and inclusive, jargon-free and informative‘. The firm undertakes a broad range of matters for high-net-worth individuals, including professionals and farming clients, with a particular focus on tax issues. Simon Underwood is ‘sympathetic, intelligent, alert to the practicalities‘. Also recommended is newly-hired partner David Richards, who joined from Leathes Prior in 2020, and largely focuses on resolving disputes.

Practice head(s):

Simon Underwood; David Richards

Other key lawyers:

Cindy Grand; Marie Townley

Testimonials

‘Simon Underwood and Butcher Andrews were a cut above and most impressive. They were sympathetic, intelligent, alert to the practicalities and competitive.’

‘Simon Underwood – intelligent, to the point, sympathetic, highly practical and attentive.’

‘The team offers both technical strength and a friendly yet professional approach, which combine to give a very strong and unique offering in the local marketplace.’

‘I have had dealings with all of the wills and probate team and they are approachable, professional, helpful and reliable. The team is headed up by Simon Underwood who, as well as being a strong probate lawyer, clearly has a very good understanding of personal tax issues in particular inheritance tax and capital gains tax.’

‘The team have been very effective and friendly when I have dealt with them. Their office has a very welcoming feel to it with lots of personal touches.’

‘I work with Simon Underwood who has been a pleasure to deal with. He has taken the time to understand the client and also work closely with me to deliver the best outcome. He is also incredibly knowledgeable and a real asset to the firm.’

‘Butcher Andrews were recommended to me by a friend. I have had dealings only with Simon Underwood. He is doing a sterling job for my siblings and me in handling our late father’s rather complex estate.’

‘Simon Underwood is extremely talented in his field and always willing to help. He goes above and beyond to assist clients and peers. Cindy Grand and Marie Townley are also very impressive.’

‘Friendly and inclusive, jargon-free and informative.’

Churchgates

Churchgates in Bury St Edmunds is 'truly a one stop shop', according to one of its clients. The firm provides accountancy and financial planning services, in addition to delivering legal advice on tax, probate and estate management. Chartered tax adviser Matthew Boardman leads the practice, in which tax and trusts manager Amelia Anglim and tax manager Kristina Green are among other key practitioners. Suzanne Alston is described as 'the Rolls Royce of trust and probate practitioners'.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Boardman

Other key lawyers:

Amelia Anglim; Kristina Green; Robin Jackson; Joanna Clayden; Suzanne Alston

Testimonials

‘Churchgates are truly a one-stop shop. They provide tax and estate planning advice and also deal with legal documents, probate and conveyancing. Additionally they deal with investment management and financial planning including pensions. Finally they have a department dealing with accounts and provides a business advisory service. The directors and staff give excellent advice to their clients and are highly innovative. A unique and powerful combination of professionals.’

‘Proactive and pragmatic approach to the issues surrounding the running of a landed estate.’

‘The staff I have dealt with have been very professional and gone out of their way to help with my clients who I have referred to them. I know that with any query I or my clients have they can always help.’

‘They are great at communicating and keeping me updated, and are always very approachable.’

‘An excellent, personal service providing a broad offering across the spectrum. Locally-based with outstanding knowledge of the area.’

‘Hugely experienced with a very personal approach to the service offered.’

‘Churchgates’ private client team is up and coming, benefiting from unique access to tax and accountancy advice within the firm.’

‘Suzanne Alston – the Rolls Royce of trust and probate practitioners.’

Spire Solicitors LLP

Spire Solicitors LLP has roots in East Anglia that date back more than 250 years, and it has a deep private client practice that spans its seven offices in Norfolk. Although the bulk of the practice is in Norwich, practice head Ejike Ndaji is based in Wymondham and he provides 'very clear advice and is always commercial in his approach'. Emma Trick in Diss and Rebecca Johnstone in Attleborough are highly regarded for their work on wills, trusts and probate matters.

Practice head(s):

Ejike Ndaji

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Johnstone; Emma Trick; Joshua Dunstone

Testimonials

‘The advice and support has been consistent and conveys a spirit of working in partnership to resolve a number of matters in order to settle the estate.’

‘I have exclusively dealt with Josh Dunstone. His approach has been one of partnership and support. He has been consultative and compassionate and I would consider that his style and manner are his particular strengths that merit emphasising here.’

‘Ejike provided very clear advice to explain an area of law that I was unfamiliar with. Ejike provided his advice in a clear and concise format, and was more than happy to make time to deal with my endless questions. Ejike was always commercial in his approach and provided potential solutions that I had not considered. I had full confidence in his abilities.’

‘I have always found them to provide an excellent service keeping me informed at all stages as to how work is progressing.’

‘I have used the services of several of the partners and employees of Spire and they have always been very capable and efficient.’

‘I found Josh Dunstone to be excellent with regards to the advice he gave me and the way he presented himself, and the fact he was able to explain things in simple terms.’

Work highlights

  • Advising clients on estate planning, most recently for a client with assets in excess of £5m.
  • Dealing with medium-sized and high-net-worth estate administrations, including those involving farming partnerships, most recently in excess of £1.2m.
  • Acted on the administration of a complex estate, valued at £5.6m.