Contentious trusts and probate in North West

DWF

DWF's 3-partner team advises clients on complex, high-value matters related to trusts and estates. The practice counts professional trustees and executors, such as banks, amongst its clients. In the area of probate, the team handles challenges to the validity of wills, incapacity claims, and complaints related to lifetime gifts. In relation to trusts, the team advises on breach of trust and fiduciary duty claims as well as allegations of professional negligence. Christopher Noel leads the overall private client practice, with Chris King and director Daniel Williams also key contacts. All three have broad practices in probate and trust matters. Senior associate Paul Maddock focuses on probate work and is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Williams; Christopher Noel; Chris King

Other key lawyers:

Paul Maddock

Testimonials

‘A team with a wealth of experience in contentious trusts and probate work with the resources of a big city firm. Their client handling skills are excellent and there is a great deal of pragmatism in getting a good result for the client.’

‘Dan Williams is excellent – extremely pragmatic, good with difficult clients and a very good lawyer. ’

‘A friendly, personable team. Work together well and agreed early on who would be picking up what workwise to try to keep costs down. They take advice from Counsel only when required to help keep the costs down for me. They are straight talking and professional. They’ve shared work with me via Workshare which made it easier to work on my case together. ’

‘Martha Allen and Daniel Williams are my solicitors and they have worked on my complex case for a few years now. I have appreciated their advice and well written correspondences, them ensuring I am consulted and my opinion and input sought, with approval gained prior to submission. They have provided explanations where my knowledge has been lacking in certain areas, which has helped me better understand various steps along the way. Whilst my case has been extremely stressful for me, we have still managed to keep a sense of humour and I have found Martha and Dan quite supportive, in terms of them advising me that they are there to try and minimise the stress for me.’

Key clients

Lloyds Bank Plc

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the Claimant Settlor of a Trust, containing assets in excess of £35 million, which is administered and settled by two trustees in Switzerland for a claim brought pursuant to the Variation of Trusts Act 1958.
  • Acting on behalf of the co-executor of a will against a further co-executor (both sisters and daughters of the deceased) in circumstances where the other joint executor has unilaterally taken control of the Estate and appears to have divested it of significant funds.
  • Instructed to act on behalf of several adult children of the deceased father in respect of (i) a Will made weeks before his death leaving his estate to one adult child (also named as executor) and his caretaker, and (ii) a lifetime transfer of property in Sri Lanka.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP acts for clients including private individuals, trust companies, and charitable organisations in complex trust and probate claims. The team's expertise in this area is demonstrated by its work handling long-running disputes in the High Court and Court of Appeal, including matters involving considerable offshore estates. The team is led by the highly experienced Simon Pedley, with associate Ben Reeves another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Simon Pedley

Other key lawyers:

Ben Reeves

Testimonials

‘I consider Mills & Reeve generally (and the Manchester office/people in particular) to be an outstanding private client firm both contentious and non-contentious. There is vast experience of trusts, complex will administration and associated tax and disputes. There are good established practitioners and an apparently endless stream of really good people being recruited. Recommended without hesitation or qualification.’

‘Very experienced and knowledgeable staff with a wider team of ancillary skills to call upon.’

‘Simon Pedley is one of the leading lights in Manchester. Ben Reeves is a very able senior associate. One to watch.’

‘Simon Pedley is simply exceptional and leads a strong team.’

‘Simon Pedley is a very pragmatic and experienced lawyer with a lot of sensible and practical advice. Ben Reeves is a thoughtful individual who understands the mixed emotions which can prevail in a contentious probate matter.’

‘Excellent service. They are ready willing and available to do whatever I require, immediately. This is not my experience with other solicitors. They have an extremely high level of legal knowledge.’

‘They do everything one hopes for from a solicitor. What makes them stand out is the fact that I can trust them implicitly.’

‘They are one of the leading teams in the area.’

Key clients

Zedra Trust Company (UK) Limited

Administrator of the estate of the late Mrs Cadogan

 

Work highlights

  • Acting for Peter Christian Velarde in a complicated dispute relating to entitlements to a substantial offshore trust, with some of the country’s leading trust QCs instructed.
  • Acting for the administrator of Cadogan estate, including numerous different strands of litigation.
  • Acting on the appeal of Re H (Deceased) [2020]. This is a case of great significance in relation to funding of 1975 Act claims and the effect of success fees.

Myerson Solicitors LLP

Myerson Solicitors LLP represents claimants and defendents in complex, high-value disputes involving trusts and estates. The practice is particularly active in advising on claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act, with claims for breach of trustee duties and proprietary estoppel disputes also areas of focus. Practice head Helen Thompson is highly regarded as 'an outstanding intellect', with over 25 years' of experience in litigation. The practice also boasts a strong team of associates, including Alice Vale and Stephanie Ewan, both of whom are praised by clients.

Practice head(s):

Helen Thompson; Adam Maher

Other key lawyers:

Alice Vale; Stephanie Ewan; Jennifer McGuinness

Testimonials

‘Being unfamiliar with the topic and the process I was about to enter into, the team were patient, clear and unambiguous about what was required and the timescales. I trusted that advice and have not been let down at any stage. In addition they provided a framework of potential costings that enabled me to way up whether to engage the firm or not.’

‘We had visited many solicitors and researched several businesses without a clear guideline as to how to resolve our problem. What made Myerson stand out was they had previous experiences in cases similar to our matter and they did deliver what they had promised. When it comes to any matter related to Probate we will always suggest Myerson for their professional work and constant transparency throughout the process.’

‘Helen Thompson continues to be a stand out litigator who always manages a remarkable balance of calm, sympathy and determination in all those challenging moments. Stephanie Ewan’s support is outstanding as always and her attention to detail adds that extra bit of quality to discussions.’

‘I have been totally supported by the team in an emotionally draining situation. I wanted to keep costs to a minimum and was always advised in advance what those costs would be. The team are highly professional, their advice has been first rate and I feel indebted to them. I cannot recommend them highly enough.’

‘Helen Thompson and Stephanie Ewan were approachable and easy to work with. They worked with integrity, honesty and without the professional arrogance that can be experienced in some of their competitors. Defending a contentious probate matter can seem daunting and extremely challenging. We had many questions and concerns and we felt we were listened to and that our suggestions were carefully considered and acted upon ’

‘In respect of Senior Associate Alice Vale, I believe she adopts an exceptional pragmatic problem solving approach. Her communication skills are second to none and she makes fantastic efforts to simplify very complex legal issues. Alice responds to all queries on a timely basis and makes herself available at all times. Alice shows tremendous skills in the way she tiptoes thru the minefield of legal complexities whilst not diverting from the crux objective.’

‘Myersons undoubtedly leads the market in the North West when it comes to contentious trusts and probate. The entire team are a pleasure to work with. Their level of detail and insight is unrivalled. I have been most impressed at how they can robustly yet compassionately deal with particularly sensitive matters. In the course of the Pandemic they have quickly deployed technological innovation to ensure that their clients cases were always progressing. They were the first firm to instruct me in a remote mediation very early into the pandemic.

‘Helen Thompson is an outstanding intellect. She is arguably the best contentious trusts and probate lawyer in the North West. Stephanie Ewan is an up and coming talent in contentious probate. Very early into her career she has dealt with matters of significant complexity. She has expertise and knowledge well beyond her level of qualification. She is pleasant and courteous to deal with. ’

Pannone Corporate LLP

Pannone Corporate LLP assists a national and international client base on estate and trust matters, ranging from Inheritance Act claims, to disputes between trustees, to allegations of undue influence and fraudulent calumny. Practice head Nicola Marchant has many years of experience in this area; elsewhere, Jonny Scholes was promoted to associate partner in 2020 and has experience in handling high-value, cross-border trust and estate matters.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Marchant

Other key lawyers:

Jonny Scholes

Testimonials

‘After trying to source good and sound legal advice we were beginning to think we were wasting our time. We spoke to various companies who didn’t really display any empathy relating to our very emotional and traumatic requirements. Jonny Scholes on the other hand showed great understanding and was able to talk us through the best approach to take. He explained potential difficulties and expertly managed our expectations. Very prompt communications. Jonny was consistently able to digest and make sense of a large amount of information that we provided. From the outset Jonny was open and honest regarding costs, talking about cost benefit analysis and being realistic when it came to the outcome.’

‘Nicola Marchant – determined in the pursuit of her client’s aims. Nicola’s decades of litigation experience show in the high quality of her work.’

‘What sets them apart is there ability to combine their knowledge of the law, the softer skills of client care and an ability to be direct. The clients I have referred to them are by the nature of the specialism in a highly emotional state and every one of them has been gushing in their praise of the work done by this team.’

‘Nicola Marchant heads up the team and is a gifted lawyer. Her real skill is taking complicated legal issues and fact patterns and explaining them in a way that is accessible and practical. She can give blunt advice without upsetting, fight hard and yet not offend. She is very, very good at what she does.’

‘Pannone Corporate are a regional Manchester firm providing expert advice to my national client base at a truly expert level. No query is too small and their ability to problem solve and work to a very tight deadline sets them out from the other, larger, Manchester firms and makes them an easy equal to the national and international full service firms. In addition, my client base is extremely vulnerable (Court of Protection) and often many clients are limited in cash assets. Pannone Corporate have always been very understanding of this, often issuing eagerly free advice and opinions before agreeing a fee rate that my client is able to afford at a Court of Protection rate.’

‘Jonny Scholes and Nicola Marchant are two leaders in their field and form an excellent partnership in my experience. Nicola brings an easy air of experience to all matters, whilst Jonny produces unrivalled work ethic and efficiency to produce a clear and concise advice on most any contentious probate matter. No query has ever been too small for them and they have always been able to assume conduct on probate matters that have been dealt with in my practice before being contested, without any issue.’

‘Nicola Marchant is excellent. Her advice is always clear, concise and cost-effective. She is also very personable and great with clients. Johnny Scholes has also impressed me and is “one to watch.”’

‘Nicola Marchant is exceptional. She is on the ball, fast, friendly and determined to get the best outcome for her clients. Her advice is well considered and based on a wealth of experience in her field.’

Addleshaw Goddard

Addleshaw Goddard's contentious trusts and probate team draws on the firm's experience in litigation and private capital matters to advise a client base of beneficiaries, trustees, and executors. As well as acting for individuals, the team advises institutional beneficiaries, such as charities, in disputed will cases. Yorke Eaton is the key figure in Manchester, with experience in handling complex trust issues. Eaton works closely with the firm's Leeds office, led by Pervinder Kaur.

Practice head(s):

Pervinder Kaur

Other key lawyers:

Yorke Eaton

Brabners LLP

Brabners LLP has significantly expanded its contentious probate practice since Tom Smith and associate Stephanie Kerr joined the team in 2019, and now advises on a varied range of matters in this area. The team acts for beneficiaries and executors of wills, both in claims and in the defence of claims. In 2020, Smith and Kerr handled Inheritance Act claims, challenges to the validity of wills, proprietary estoppel claims, and allegations of wrongdoing by executors.

Practice head(s):

Tom Smith

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Kerr

Testimonials

‘Stephanie Kerr was an exceptional person to deal with during what was tricky and potentially emotionally contentious issue. Stephanie’s guidance was spot-on throughout and our understanding of the situation and her advice around it was both thorough and valued.’

‘Stephanie Kerr has made this very upsetting and emotional journey, less stressful and manageable. Communication has been excellent and at no point did I worry about her ability to guide me through. Stephanie would explain all the legal terminology, keep me updated at every step, and offer practical advice and guidance when I was too emotional to think straight. She was deeply knowledgeable in this field which filled me with much confidence. She was superb in dealing with the other party and their legal personnel.’

‘Stephanie Kerr has all the qualities a excellent solicitor should have. She has excellent advice and extremely supportive and knowledgeable with the law she can advice you on all your questions, I could not have come so far and have the confidence she will win my contentious case.’

‘As a barrister, I have experience of the firm both through instruction and being instructed on cases in which Brabners are on the other side. I have always found them to be well organised and clearly able to identify the issues quickly. I would imagine that the fee earners inspire confidence in clients. I was impressed within how quickly the firm adapted to virtual court hearings, in one case, a hybrid FDR was conducted not only remotely, but where we had numerous clients around the world who needed to give instructions.’

‘Stephanie Kerr is an impressive lawyer. I have found her easy to deal with professionally, very well organised and on the ball.’

‘I deal in the main with Stephanie Kerr, she is without doubt one of the best contentious probate solicitors I have ever encountered. Extremely responsive to queries, always returns calls. Stephanie has a great ability to think round problems when it comes to issues on cases and to consider side angles. She is extremely approachable and any clients I have referred directly have been very happy with service. As a client myself in terms of files where I am appointed directly as Executor, I have always had absolute confidence in her abilities, dedication to her work and advice given. She is excellent and I fully intend to continue to use and recommend her moving forward. ’

‘As Counsel, I have an experience with many solicitors that they don’t really know what they are doing when dealing with contentious probate litigation, and it is very much an adjunct to a general litigation practice. The Brabners team is the opposite of this. They are specialists and cases that I see have been fully considered and generally I am either a double check on their thinking, or there is genuinely complex point to be considered. I like that the team tend to take a realistic and pragmatic view to cases.’

‘Stephanie Kerr was the associate leading my matter. She was well informed, very responsive and pragmatic. During a difficult and emotive case she provided clarity and reasoned suggests always with one eye on the costs that any next step may incur. Would highly recommend to others.’

Work highlights

  • Representing the beneficiary of a Will in a challenge to a Codicil based on lack of due execution and lack of knowledge and approval, dealing with issues relating to ademption of a gift and whether renunciation was effected.
  • Represented an attorney in responding to an application by the OPG in the Court of Protection involving the affairs of a party outside the jurisdiction.
  • Represented a potential beneficiary of an Isle of Man trust in a claim brought by the executors for interpretation.

Forbes Solicitors

Forbes Solicitors experienced changes at the top in 2020, as practice head Ben Wilson departed the team in November. The contentious trusts team is now overseen by Michael Chambers, with associate Tom Howcroft leading on much of their work. Howcroft is supported by senior associate John Lambe, who joined from Simpson Millar LLP in December, as well as by associate Kirsty McNulty. The team continues to act for private individuals in Inheritance Act and breach of trust claims as well as challenges to wills.

Practice head(s):

Michael Chambers

Other key lawyers:

Tom Howcroft; John Lambe; Kirsty McNulty; Olivia Jack

Testimonials

‘Following the departure of Ben Wilson the team, led by Tom Howcroft and ably supported by Kirsty McNulty and Olivia Jack, have continued to provide sound, practical advice on a rang of contentious probate matters, particularly in claims by adult children under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975’

‘Kirsty McNulty represents clients well. ’

‘The associate we liaised with for this case was Kirsty McNulty and she was brilliant; professional, patient and sympathetic. Kirsty always kept me informed and always advised what next steps should be. I think what makes them different is that I didn’t get the sense that they were just after business when I first launched the enquiry. Kirsty could see that wrongdoing had been conducted and she wanted to help me achieve justice. ’

‘The solicitor of whom I have experience is Olivia Jack. She took over sole conduct of a claim in relation to a high value, complex estate shortly before a mediation. Olivia impressed with her client care, complete mastery of the facts and attention to detail. She analysed the commercial and technical elements of potential settlements with skill and provided an overall excellent service to her client. ’

Gorvins Solicitors

Gorvins Solicitors' contentious trusts and probate team draws on the firm's expertise in dispute resolution and non-contentious wills and probate work to advise clients in this area. The team handles the contesting of wills, Inheritance Act claims, and disputes between trustees and beneficiaries; much of the team's work involves complicating aspects such as allegations of forgery, lack of capacity and undue influence. Christine Thornley leads the overall wills, trusts and probate team, with Michael Smoult also a key partner with a background in dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):

Christine Thornley

Other key lawyers:

Michael Smoult; Danielle Clements; Tasoula Addison

Testimonials

‘I was represented by Michael Smoult. I value him as a solicitor, who, while providing excellent legal advice, displayed keen intuition and empathy for my situation on a personal level, in what is a very sensitive matter.’

JMW Solicitors LLP

JMW Solicitors LLP handles a broad range of contentious trust and probate matters, including challenges to wills and lifetime gifts, Inheritance Act claims, and disputes between trustees and beneficiaries. The specialist team is led by Alison Parry, who solely focuses on this area and also handles professional negligence claims related to wills and trusts. The practice was bolstered in November 2020 when Ben Wilson joined the team from Forbes Solicitors; Wilson is a wills and trusts specialist with broad experience in this area.

Practice head(s):

Alison Parry

Other key lawyers:

Ben Wilson; Ian Johnston

Testimonials

‘Strongly led, and with good strength in depth, the team at JMW is one of, if not the, specialist trust and probate litigation teams in Manchester and the North West’

‘Alison Parry – robust and with an eye to detail, Alison is a formidable opponent with a real understanding of the law and how to use it to the benefit of her clients. Ben Wilson – recently joined from Forbes, Ben brings a particular expertise in Inheritance Act disputes Ian Johnston – combines excellent technical knowledge with a strong client-focused approach.’

‘JMW Solicitors LLP are dedicated, forward-looking people at the top of their game. Those I encountered were courteous, efficient and helpful.’

‘My dealings with Alison Parry have been first class from Day 1. At every point of contact I have been supported by Alison, her experience, interpersonal skills and clear communication style are a great asset. Alison has worked tirelessly for the best possible outcome for myself and kept me constantly up to date throughout all proceedings.’

‘Alison Parry has been largely responsible for my case, and she has been excellent in every relevant regard. Alison has handled aggressive and frankly unprofessional correspondence from the other party with skill, and has been excellent at keeping her correspondence relevant, calm, and professional.

‘Alison Parry is an expert in the field of contentious probate. Alison is a skilled and experienced practitioner, but equally she is understanding and empathic in the guidance and support she gives to clients on this emotive journey. Alison is alive to the financial anxieties that trouble clients along the way. Sadly, many solicitors are not so sympathetic in this regard. It is a great comfort the way Alison responds expeditiously to emails and telephone calls from clients. Though a polished professional, Alison is easy to talk to.’

‘JMW has a capable private client litigation team with a strong client focus, and a good sense of how practically to help individuals, some of whom have limited resources.’

‘I have worked mostly with Alison Parry, who is a very capable private client litigator. She is hard-working and robust in her approach to cases and opponents. I have also worked with Ian Johnston, who is a sensible senior associate with good judgment in managing complex cases.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for Executors in a £3.6 million farm estate involving a claim of proprietary estoppel and a claim under the Inheritance Act by competing parties.
  • Acted in a complex Inheritance Act claim for a mother in respect of the £2.5 million estate of her minor child.
  • Represented the Trustees of a Charity in successfully defeating an injunction application against them by a co-Trustee which threatened the existence of the Charity.

Shoosmiths LLP

Under the leadership of Adam Draper, Shoosmiths LLP handles probate claims, including claims made on the grounds of lack of capacity, estoppel and undue influence. The team also assists clients in making complaints of professional negligence against solicitors involved in preparing wills, as well as defending executors and trustees facing these claims. Draper is praised as 'an assured and knowledgeable litigator', while senior associate Andrew Bishop  is 'exceptionally hardworking lawyer'.

Practice head(s):

Adam Draper

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Bishop

Testimonials

‘Great team run by Adam Draper. Cases always well prepared and strategy is carefully thought through to deliver the optimum result.’

‘Skilled, knowledgeable and commercial, among the best in contentious probate.’

‘Adam Draper is an assured and knowledgeable litigator in whom clients can have full confidence. Ably supported by the exceptional Andrew Bishop, who has a fantastic eye for detail.’

‘The team are uniquely sensible and practical. Unlike many solicitors, they never get drawn into the adversarial side of litigation. There is never any chest-beating or needless hostility. Their first instinct is always to settle a case, and they go out of their way to come up with creative ways to reach an agreement with the other side. Only when there is no other choice do their cases go to trial. When they do, they are exceptionally well-prepared.’

‘Adam Draper – impossible not to like. Beneath his down-to-earth, good-humoured, and friendly exterior lurks a tremendously experienced lawyer who has an instinct for which cases will succeed at trial and which will not. Unflappable – physically incapable of losing his cool.  Andrew Bishop – an exceptionally hardworking lawyer and a thoroughly decent chap. He puts in every waking hour for his clients. Strong on the law, very likable, and with a rare strategic mindset. He goes out of his way to settle every case – when he goes to trial, victory is a formality.’

‘Manchester-based, but with a national presence the team at Shoosmiths are a leading player in the world of contentious trusts and probate regionally and nationally’

‘Adam Draper – calm, reassuring and resolute. Adam’s experience in contentious probate matters makes him a formidable opponent. Andrew Bishop – very well regarded, and with good reason. Andrew’s attention to detail and depth of knowledge enables him to provide robust commercial advice to clients in often complex disputes’

‘Adam Draper has long experience in this area. He empathises with clients who are often involved in a legal dispute for the only time in their lives at a time when they have suffered a bereavement. He gets to the core of the problem,identifies achieveable solutions and makes them happen.’

Key clients

Blue Cross

Cancer Research UK

Cats Protection

Dogs Trust

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Help for Heroes

Macmillan Cancer Support

National Trust

Parkinson’s UK

RSPB

RSPCA

The Donkey Sanctuary

WWF-UK

Work highlights

  • Acting for the successful Claimant in a claim for reasonable financial provision by the deceased’s cohabitee from an estate worth £2,000,000. Securing increased provision including contribution to success fee as a future debt for which she was liable under the terms of her Conditional Fee Agreement: a landmark ruling and an industry first since success fees have not been viewed as recoverable following the Jackson Reforms in 2013.
  • Acting for the successful Claimant in securing a large award for an adult child applicant under the Inheritance Act, and reinforcing the recoverability of the success fee pursuant to Bullock. The authority also develops the law associated with an unreasonable refusal to mediate within contentious probate litigation.
  • Acting for a client in a probate claim and associated professional negligence claim. Resolving a claim to challenge the alleged final Will and pursuing the negligent draftsperson.

Aaron & Partners LLP

Aaron & Partners LLP handles contentious trusts work as well as Court of Protection issues from its offices in Chester and Shrewsbury. James Wallace handles trusts and probates disputes, while Clive Pointon has more than 20 years of experience in this area. The team was substantially bolstered in January 2021 by the arrival of senior associate Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu, who joined from the Cardiff office of Hugh James. Macdonald-Munteanu specialises in litigating claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and proprietary estoppel claims, and has previously acted in the High Court and Court of Appeals.

Practice head(s):

Clive Pointon

Other key lawyers:

James Wallace; Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu

Testimonials

‘Vlad MacDonald-Munteanu has recently joined from Hugh James and is a real catch. Smart, tactically astute and very good with tricky clients, he is also brilliant at bringing work in.’

‘An efficient and capable team with a great track record in contentious trust and probate’

‘The team has moved up a level with the excellent new recruit, rising star Vlad MacDonald-Munteanu. His unflappable ability to handle, effectively at top partner level, the most complex, heavy and pressured litigation makes him one of the best associate solicitors in the country in this filed.’

Butcher & Barlow LLP

Butcher & Barlow LLP advises clients on challenging wills, as well as acting for executors in the defence of challenges. The practice also assists clients with claims made under the Inheritance Act. Practice head Samuel Dale stands out for his expertise in contentious and non-contentious probate and trust matters. Greg Porter in Northwich and Anthony Higham in Bury are also key partners in the team.

Practice head(s):

Samuel Dale

Other key lawyers:

Greg Porter; Anthony Higham

Testimonials

‘The team has considerable strength in depth, from partners to associates, deployed across all offices.’

‘They are very approachable. They respond promptly and have a good grasp of any case they are dealing with. ’

‘The team has great strength in depth and a considerable pool of knowledge and experience. They are able to handle all aspects of trusts and probate litigation with aplomb navigating legal issues and procedure adeptly.’

‘Greg Porter – builds a fantastic rapport with clients and understands complex cases very quickly. He is always sure-footed in litigation and brings a tactical keenness to any dispute. Sam Dale – very experienced in probate matters with impressive knowledge and judgment.’

‘My dealings were predominantly with Samuel Dale, one of the Partners at the Sandbach office. I was very anxious about instructing a solicitor, having many misconceptions about the profession and bad dealings with other firms in the past. However, Mr Dale was always approachable yet professional and guided me through the process at what was a very difficult time. The dispute I was involved in was very complex and multi-faceted from a legal perspective and involved issues I had never had to deal with. Although legally complex, Mr Dale was always able to explain the legal position to me clearly and advise as to options available. ’

Work highlights

  • Acting for defendants in a proprietary estoppel and Inheritance Act Claim which required the obtaining of significant witness evidence and research in to Deceased’s and Claimant’s social media.
  • Acting for defendant beneficiaries in a claim regarding the validity of the Deceased’s Will and also a claim that a Common Intention Constructive Trust was created with regard to the Deceased’s property.
  • Defence of a claim under Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act and for proprietary estoppel.

DTM Legal LLP

DTM Legal LLP handles contentious estate matters including applications for the removal of trustees and executors, professional negligence claims, and challenges to wills. The team's matters include advising on estates with cross-border assets. Following the departure of Duncan McAllister in September 2020, Richard Thomas now leads the practice, while Amanda Bailey acts on contentious trust and estate work in addition to leading the firm's non-contentious team.

Practice head(s):

Richard Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Bailey

Testimonials

‘The first time we visited DTM Legal we were greeted by a very pleasant receptionist who made us feel very welcome. We were not used to dealing with solicitors so this made us feel at ease. We then were introduced to Richard Thomas who also was very pleasant and again made us feel very comfortable. During the whole process we were kept up to date with face to face appointments and the later half through emails and telephone conversations due to the coronavirus. His knowledge is exceptional and he helped us get the result that we were happy with. ’

FDR Law

FDR Law acts for defendents and claimants in will and probate matters, with expertise in matters ranging from Inheritance Act matters to professional negligence claims related to this area. The private client team draws on the assistance of the firm's corporate, commercial and real estate practices to provide a broad service to clients. Stephen Lawson is the key name to note in the practice, with longstanding expertise in this area.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Lawson

Testimonials

‘The team, headed by the hugely knowledgeable Stephen Lawson, brings great expertise and breadth of experience to high value and complex disputes. They are able to find solutions to the most challenging problems and really go more than the extra mile to achieve results for their clients. Their specialist insights and technical knowledge are invaluable in a fiendishly difficult field.’

‘FDR has a team able to deal with a wide variety of legal issues and includes highly experienced specialist solicitors.’

‘I was directed towards FDR Law as being a firm who could deal with my particular issue with competence and knowledge. Steven Lawson’s name was particularly singled out as one who would best suit my need. During my dealings with Mr Lawson I have found the staff at FDR very efficient and pleasant always willing to help. Most of the correspondence has been by email and it her has never been a problem. Any invoices have been dealt with efficiently and easy over the telephone.’

‘The team at FDR Law have acted with total professionalism during my dealings with them. They have been efficient in their approach and I feel that they have treated me with respect.’

‘Stephen Lawson is an outstanding individual in the field. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of trusts and estates principles and is constantly working to find creative solutions what might appear to others to be insoluble problems. He has great judgment and is a robust and determined litigator. I rate him very highly indeed.’

‘Stephen Lawson is extremely knowledgable, if I need to speak to him to explain anything he will call me and explains everything, I’ve never come across a solicitor that has the answers to all your questions and makes you feel confident. Mr Lawson came highly recommended to me from a friend that works in another solicitors, I wanted the best there was, and I’m not disappointed. Mr Lawson gives his all to his job, nothing is too much for him.’

‘Stephen Lawson is exceptionally knowledgeable, approachable and professional. He is an extremely effective communicator and he gives straight forward, honest advice. He actions instructions immediately and always responds promptly. I would definitely recommend Stephen Lawson as the solicitor you want to have in your corner if you ever have to deal with a contentious issue.’

‘I am a private client of Steven Lawson who is dealing with an issue over my late wife’s Will. I had been directed towards Mr Lawson by another firm who were dealing with a separate but related problem. Since being with Mr Lawson I have found him very pleasant and extremely knowledgeable. He has answered questions directly and honestly. If there are any difficulties he informs me directly and explains the problem openly and readily.’

Work highlights

  • Advised wife in multi million-pound inheritance dispute relating to her late husband’s estate. Numerous claims made, including re the validity of the will, removal of wife as executrix, estoppel claims, land issues and reconstitution of title for over 400 acres of land, tax issues and defending committal proceedings for breach of injunction.
  • Acted as a court appointed personal representative of the estate of a Knight of the Realm, as proposed to the court by Penelope Reed QC. International dispute involving assets in England and assets in New York, complex issues re domicile and whether or not the estate is insolvent.

Irwin Mitchell

Under the leadership of senior associate Heather Roberts, Irwin Mitchell acts on claims made against estates, including Inheritance Act and proprietary estoppel claims as well as disputed wills on the grounds of forgery and undue influence. The Manchester practice draws on the experience of the national team, led by Paula Myers.

Practice head(s):

Paula Myers

Other key lawyers:

Heather Roberts

Testimonials

‘The service they provide is really personable and the results they achieve are excellent.’

‘Great team, attract good solid work and represent clients well.’

‘Exceptional service throughout.’

‘We mainly dealt with Heather Roberts. Our case was complex, messy and at times very distressing to us because of the behaviour of the opposing side. Heather impressed us from the start with her friendly and approachable manner, and clear grasp of the key issues. As the case went on her knowledge and understanding of the relevant law was apparent and she dealt with everything efficiently and thoroughly.’

‘Heather Roberts is simply brilliant.’

‘Heather Roberts is very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable in her area.’

‘Heather Roberts was the person I passed the client on to and the feedback I got was immediately great. She had listened and reassured, and understood exactly what the circumstances were. The result she got was way in excess of what the client expected at the start. She literally changed someone’s life with the result she got, but was also their to help the client and hold her hand all the way through.’

Jolliffe & Co LLP

Jolliffe & Co LLP's contentious trusts team acts for executors and potential beneficiaries in contentious trust claims, including disputing wills and making claims under the Inheritance Act. Stewart Burrows  leads the practice, which is based in Chester.

Practice head(s):

Stewart Burrows

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP acts for executors, beneficiaries, and relatives of the deceased in contentious probate and trust matters. On the probate side, the team frequently advises on challenges to the validity of wills, including those made on the grounds of lack of capacity. The practice also acts for the beneficiaries of trusts in disputes with trustees. Andrew Weinberg has now retired, with Peter Kaye taking over as practice head. Kaye has a background in commercial litigation.

Practice head(s):

Peter Kaye

Other key lawyers:

Richard Wilson

Testimonials

‘The team has an exceptional level of expertise in this field. I always remain impressed by their up to date knowledge. They have an excellent collaborative approach ensuring that every member is engaged.’

‘Peter Kaye – a capable and confident leader. He combines great insight and perception with pragmatism and commerciality but he is ruthless when needed. ’

‘Kuits are able to combine the high level professional approach of a mid-size firm with approachability and personal service from top individuals. It is clear that they provide a client-focussed bespoke service. ’

‘Kuits are deservedly regarded as one of the best firms in the North West. Their work for clients is always meticulously prepared by experts with a wealth of knowledge and sound judgment.’

‘Peter Kaye is extremely approachable, knowledgeable, and has a keen eye for detail. A strong litigator. Richard Wilson is great to work with and receptive to client needs. Offers practical solutions to clients during litigation.’

‘This is first time I have had to deal with a Law company at this level although I have a lot of experience of dealing with professional people at this ‘level’ Having worked at big oil companies, their high tech communications is at the top and this something I immediately found at Kuits, whether it was arranging meeting or delivering messaging. Everything was as good as you will find at a top level company.’

‘Kuits assigned two main people on our case who were excellent all the way through the 12 month issue and never once underestimate the issues we faced and were always there to help during the times when we were getting disallusioned. Peter Kaye and Richard Wilson were brilliant in bringing the case to a satisfactory conclusion during the additional burden of Covid. ’

Slater Heelis

Slater Heelis advises clients on contentious probate matters, including claims made under the Inheritance Act. The team aids clients in contesting wills on the grounds of proprietary estoppel, incapacity and undue influence. Chris Bishop is the key partner in the team and 'combines incisive legal analysis with an excellent client manner'.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Wilkinson

Other key lawyers:

Chris Bishop; Daniel Wise

Testimonials

‘I have found them to be very helpful. I feel Chris Bishop has a complete understanding of the situation I was in, he is very approachable, always happy to explain things in lay persons terms, and is always happy to speak to myself or my daughter on my behalf to explain things I didn’t understand.’

‘I found Chris Bishop to always be very helpful explaining things in non-legal jargon, as this is the first time I have need the support of a solicitor. I feel he has a very good understanding of people in general and I think because he is so approachable it gave me a sense of confidence and reassurance I would get the very best advice and outcome with this legal matter.’

‘The thing that most impresses me about the team at Slater Heelis is that it takes a no-holds-barred approach on behalf of its clients but maintains, at all times, strict professionalism. Clients are made to feel valued and difficult advice in difficult times is delivered with empathy and compassion. They really work hard to achieve the best outcome for the client.’

‘Chris Bishop – he really does go the extra mile for his clients. He manages to combine incisive legal analysis with an excellent client manner always ensuring clients are not overwhelmed by the process. His correspondence ensures that his opponent are under no illusions that he will leave no stone unturned.’

‘Slater Heelis are a first choice firm in the North-West for contentious trusts and probate work. Their team of specialists attract high quality work and provide excellent service, with clear advice and excellent results being consistently delivered. ’

‘Chris Bishop and Daniel Wise provide excellent and specialist advice in this arena and are second to none in their approach to the work. They have achieved notable success in this area of work and can be relied upon to provide an excellent service to their clients.’