Contentious trusts and probate in North West


DWF is especially strong advising trustee companies, charitable trusts, and private banks regarding complex trust and probate disputes with a cross-border element. The team also is involved in trust disputes involving allegations of fraudulent activities by trustees. Daniel Williams was promoted to partner in February 2022 and is a key contact regarding contentious trust and probate matters. Christopher Noel focuses on advising high-net-worth individuals and family trusts on complex estate and trust disputes, while the Liverpool-based Chris King specialises in trust and probate disputes, as well as disputes concerning professional negligence and overseas trusts. Senior associate Paul Maddock is also noted for his work on probate disputes.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Williams; Christopher Noel; Chris King

Other key lawyers:

Paul Maddock


‘There’s getting to be quite a lot of competition in the North West for contentious probate and trusts teams, but DWF have been in the market for years and so have the experience and the expertise. They get excellent work and have the ability to deal with it.’

‘Dan Williams who has recently been made a partner is excellent. He is down to earth, has an excellent instinct for the merits of a claim and is realistic in advising clients to settle if that is in their interests. He is a very good litigator.’

‘This is a very capable contentious probate team based in the North, I would highly recommend them.’

‘Dan Williams is a very hard-nosed litigator who is worth his salt.’

‘There is a wealth of experience within the DWF contentious trusts and probate practice which provides for expert advice and guidance to be given in every point within this area. Every member of the team is extremely knowledgeable both in respect of the substantive law, but also the practicalities of contentious work and litigation and is able to provide clear, accurate and highly effective advice to clients.’

‘Paul Maddock continues to be a stand.out litigator who always manages a remarkable balance of calm, sympathy and determination in all those challenging moments. His skills and reputation are commensurate with lawyers who have been in practice significantly longer than him. He has an excellent combination of legal knowledge, commercial astuteness and client care skills to provide each client with the entire service to an impeccable standard.’

‘I approached the practice for help due to their excellent reputation. I was certainly not disappointed. DWF has experts in all legal areas that I can think of. The firm is organised, up to date with modern communication and technology methods and is easy and professional to deal with.’

‘I am so happy to have the opportunity to express my praise of Paul Maddock of DWF. I am overwhelmed at the professionalism, knowledge and expertise he has shown throughout my case. Nothing has been too much trouble and he explains situations repeatedly and with patience until I fully understand. Paul Maddock has always been available by either telephone or email whenever I have needed and works incredible hard for me in the background. I cannot recommend him highly enough and he is a credit to DWF.’

Key clients

Lloyds Bank plc

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the claimant settlor of a Trust, containing assets in excess of £35m, which is administered and settled by two trustees in Switzerland for a claim brought pursuant to the Variation of Trusts Act 1958.
  • Acted 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 deals with the full range of contentious trusts and probate matters, including disputes concerning the validity and construction of wills and trusts and breach of trust and fiduciary duty claims. The team is noted for acting in complex trust disputes dealing with high-net-worth offshore individuals. Simon Pedley leads the team and is highly regarded for his work on international trust disputes, as well as his expertise in estate and will disputes. Associate Ben Reeves is a key contact regarding complex, international matters for trust companies and charitable organisations.

Practice head(s):

Simon Pedley

Other key lawyers:

Ben Reeves


‘There is real expertise here and years of being one of the best regional firms. As a result the firm attracts excellent and high-value work.’

‘Simon Pedley is extremely experienced and a very good lawyer. Ben Reeves, while more junior, is extremely clever. They both have good client-handling skills.’

‘Mills & Reeve in the NW has real local expertise in this area of work, but can also call on others in the firm nationwide. They offer a class service.’

‘Simon Pedley is a leader in this field. He is confident, experienced and a smooth operator.’

‘Simon Pedley is outstanding. He is astonishingly bright and tactically astute, with exceptional judgement. He gives first rate support for clients during the conduct of a case and is readily available as needed. He makes good use of his team and works cost-effectively.’

‘Mills and Reeve is a regional powerhouse matched by a high-quality London presence. It is increasingly recognised as being among the best private client offerings, and certainly the firm boasts very high quality work.’

Ben Reeves is a very robust litigator with depth and breadth of subject knowledge to match.’

‘Mills & Reeve has quality clients and delivers an excellent service.’

Key clients

Zedra UK

Peter Christian Velarde

Nalini Hirachand

Work highlights

  • Acted for the appellant in the Court of Appeal case Hirachand v Hirachand [2021] EWCA Civ 1498 – a case on the recoverability of CFA costs as part of an award in 1975 Act claims.
  • Acted for Peter Christian Velarde in the matter of Velarde v Velarde, a decision on will interpretation.

Myerson Solicitors LLP

Myerson Solicitors LLP exclusively works on complex contentious trust and probate matters. It is especially experienced advising on claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act. Practice head Helen Thompson is considered ‘a true companion‘ by her clients for her litigation work, while Adam Maher leads the dispute resolution team and is a key contact regarding related shareholder dispute instructions. Associate solicitor Stephanie Ewan  is also noted for acting for both claimants and defendants in 1975 Act claims and applications in the Court of Protection. Senior associate and highly experienced litigator Nicola Moulds joined from SAS Daniels LLP in April 2021.

Practice head(s):

Helen Thompson; Adam Maher

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Ewan; Nicola Moulds


‘Myerson’s are the go-to firm for contentious trust & probate, exceptional knowledge and negotiating skills. Will fight your corner well and reasonably priced for the high level of service.’

‘Helen Thompson is a true champion of her clients, working tirelessly for the right outcome for them. A real gem in the sector and deserves recognition in her field.’

‘Helen Thompson and Stephanie Ewan lead the team and were always available at the critical times. This involved out of hours working as well as comprehensive management of the resolution.’

Myerson has given constant support and works together with the client proactively to get the matter resolved successfully and cost-effectively.’

‘Compared with other firms I have dealt with Myerson’s took a very direct route in achieving success on my behalf. I was frequently able to discuss an issue online with several members of the team whenever an unexpected situation arose.’

‘It’s the personal touch they offer, including their empathy for your individual case.’

‘Stephanie and Ryan are very professional and patient. They will help you with any questions you may have.’

Work highlights

    Pannone Corporate LLP

    Pannone Corporate LLP is noted for its experience in mediation and other methods of alternative dispute resolution, often acting in disputes between trustees and beneficiaries, Inheritance Act 1975 claims, and fraudulent calumny claims, amongst others. Niche expertise includes rectification of trust deeds and related commercial litigation affecting estates. Practice lead and managing partner Nicola Marchant is ‘very experienced in trusts and probate work‘, while associate partner Jonny Scholes and associate Elizabeth Walsh are both highly regarded for their expertise in claims brought under the Inheritance Act 1975 and trust and estoppel disputes.

    Practice head(s):

    Nicola Marchant

    Other key lawyers:

    Jonny Scholes; Elizabeth Walsh


    ‘We have been very happy with Pannone Corporate LLP and their services/staff. We highly recommend Pannone Corporate LLP for anyone who needs advice and assistance with contentious trusts and probate services.’

    ‘Jonny Scholes is professional, extremely knowledgeable in the field of contentious trusts and probate disputes and is a pleasure to work with. He is understanding, listens to our needs and adapts accordingly. We highly recommend Jonny Scholes for advice and services in contentious trusts and dispute resolution matters.’

    ‘This company really does work together to get the best advice and knowledge to give the client the best service and outcome.’

    ‘I feel really fortunate I had Johnny Scholes and Elizabeth Walsh as my representatives they always took into account what I had been through.’

    ‘Pannone has a strong and established market presence in this field.’

    ‘Nicola Marchant is very experienced in trusts and probate work. She builds exceptionally good client relationships.’

    Work highlights

    • Acted for an elderly client whose partner of over 35 years passed away intestate meaning his Estate passed to his children from his first marriage and she received nothing (the estate value was at least £4-5m).
    • Successfully helped a client dismiss a claim advanced on the basis of fraudulent calumny relating to his late father’s will.

    Addleshaw Goddard

    The key name for contentious trusts in Addleshaw Goddard's Manchester office is Yorke Eaton, who is well-regarded for his 'empathy, understanding, knowledge and patience'.


    ‘A team that works well together through the simplicity of communication. Whilst the key person is Yorke Eaton, the rest of his team are all very capable of dealing with matters efficiently once key decisions have been made. Trust work has been handled with a huge breath of knowledge and sound advice going forward.’

    ‘From a personal point of view, Yorke Eaton has gone above and beyond with the issues I have had. His empathy, understanding, knowledge and patience are immeasurable.’

    Work highlights

      Brabners LLP

      Led by Tom Smith, the team at Brabners LLP advises high-net-worth clients, both in the UK and internationally, on the full range of trusts and probate dispute resolution matters, including challenges to the validity of wills, the removal of executors, and representing clients in contested Court of Protection proceedings. Litigator Stephanie Kerr leads the Lancashire team and was promoted to senior associate in May 2021. Solicitor Beth Middleton joined from Stephensons Solicitors LLP in January 2021.

      Practice head(s):

      Tom Smith

      Other key lawyers:

      Stephanie Kerr; Beth Middleton


      ‘Brabners seems to work closely together, with the support staff remaining in contact and keeping me updated while the solicitor is working on the case. The solicitor was extremely clear about the likely costs involved for each tranche of work.’

      ‘Right from the first conversation with Beth Middleton it was clear that this was the firm for me. She understood completely the issues I was facing and gave me every confidence that the steps she would take would maximise the chances of a successful outcome. The progress of the case has completely mirrored the clear expectations I was given.’

      ‘Given the sensitive nature of the work which the team attends to, it is important that they are not only knowledgeable, but able to explain quite complex areas of law succinctly and clearly. I retained Stephanie Kerr to assist on a matter. Stephanie and her colleagues have amply demonstrated their ability to apply their expertise in order to achieve the broader objective.’

      Key clients

      Manchester United Foundation

      Work highlights

      • Acted for client at first instance and on appeal in relation to a complex dispute regarding the proper construction of an appointment of a substantial Isle of Man trust.  Equiom (Isle of Man) Limited v Velarde [2021] EWHC 1528 (Ch)
      • Advised a professional administrator of a multi-million pound estate in relation to disputed transactions and the subsequent application for directions.
      • Acted for adult children as beneficiaries of an estate which is subject to a mutual wills trust, responding to a claim brought by the administrator of a second estate.

      Forbes Solicitors

      Led by Michael Chambers, Forbes Solicitors advises on contentious trusts and probate matters, including Inheritance Act 1975 claims and challenges to validity of wills. Tom Howcroft is a key contact regarding trusts of land disputes, while senior associate John Lambe is noted for his disputes work on wills, trusts, and estates. Wills, estates, and trusts dispute associate Lucy Armstrong joined from Keoghs LLP in December 2021. Senior associate Rebecca Beaumont joined from Schofield & Associates in March 2022 and primarily deals with Inheritance Act 1975 claims and capacity disputes.

      Practice head(s):

      Michael Chambers

      Other key lawyers:

      Tom Howcroft; John Lambe; Lucy Armstrong; Rebecca Beaumont


      ‘Forbes are one of the go to practices in the North of England for contentious probate work. The team has strength in depth and a growing reputation in the field, especially in claims under the Inheritance Act. Clients range from local, to national and even international-based individuals’

      ‘Tom Howcroft is very knowledgeable and efficient and John Lambe brings a range of experience.’

      ‘John Lambe is very experienced and knowledgeable in the area of contentious probate / contested Wills litigation and has especially good judgement. He is generous with his time and consistently gives good actionable advice.’

      Work highlights

        Gorvins Solicitors

        Gorvins Solicitors is particularly strong advising on Inheritance Act claims, disputed estates, and challenging and contesting wills. It has niche experience dealing with fraudulent wills and invalid wills involving mental capacity. Michael Smoult was promoted to practice head in June 2021 and specialises in contentious estates, Inheritance Act 1975 claims, and disputed wills. Other key contacts include Julie Burgess, who made partner in December 2021,  and senior associate Danielle Clements, who focuses on court litigation, often involving contentious probate and challenges to the validity of wills. Christine Thornley departed in September 2021.

        Practice head(s):

        Michael Smoult

        Other key lawyers:

        Julie Burgess; Dianelle Clements


        ‘Gorvins has a good caseload of respectable work in this area.’

        ‘Danielle Clements is an experienced litigator in this field, and shows determination to achieve clients’ goals in a cost-effective way.’

        ‘A helpful, professional team.’

        ‘Friendly staff that puts you at ease.’

        Work highlights

          JMW Solicitors LLP

          JMW Solicitors LLP covers the full range of wills, probate, and trusts disputes. In recent years the team has seen an increase in claims for financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975, as well as in trust deputes and proprietary estoppel cases. Team leader Alison Parry is ‘very experienced and forceful, but practical in her approach‘. Ben Wilson is noted for his work on Inheritance Act 1975 claims. Associate Ian Johnston is a key resource regarding complex trust disputes.

          Practice head(s):

          Alison Parry

          Other key lawyers:

          Ben Wilson; Ian Johnston


          ‘This is a firm which seems to be seeing increasingly good work in the contentious trusts and probate field and justifiably so. It has worked at raising its profile in this area, but is also able to deliver the goods in terms of expertise.’

          ‘Alison Parry is excellent–knowledgeable with real expertise and excellent client-handling skills.’

          ‘JMW is one of the major players in the North West for this type of work. The good volume of work they are able to attract means that they have real specialism in this area.’

          ‘Alison Parry and Ben Wilson are the stand-outs and show particular expertise in these matters.’

          ‘Communication is key for all clients and JMW stands above everybody else in delivering a comprehensive client care experience. Supported by a strong and commercially aware team, JMW strives to secure exceptional results.’

          ‘Ben Wilson is extremely proactive and client-friendly. Strong support when clients need it most. Brilliant eye for detail and a solid understanding of the law. I cannot recommend Ben enough.’

          ‘Possibly the leading contentious probate team in Manchester. The team benefits from having strength across all levels of qualification’

          ‘Alison Parry leads the team. She is very experienced, and forceful, but practical in her approach; not afraid to advise her client to take a stance when that is appropriate.’

          Work highlights

          • Acted for the successful defendant in a three-day trial in a claim brought by an adult child in his grandmother’s estate.
          • Succeeded in getting injunctive relief for the trustee of a charity against family members in relation to the burial of the deceased due to his religious beliefs.
          • Acting for an excluded spouse in a £5m estate in relation to claims of lack of capacity and undue influence in relation to the severance of joint tenancies and the creation of a will.

          Napthens LLP

          The contentious probate team at Napthens LLP is lead by legal director Nicola Turner, a specialist in contentious probate matters, covering will validity challenges, estoppel claims, Inheritance Act (1975) claims, and probate cases involving a business-related element. The team also covers financial abuse cases for protected parties.

          Practice head(s):

          Nicola Turner


          ‘Napthens contentious probate offering is excellent. They deliver quality legal services in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Advice is practical and always tailored to delivering the outcome sought by the client. They have the advantage of huge contentious experience as well as the back-up of a large and able non-contentious probate team.’

          ‘Nicola Turner is a talented litigator. Where she stands out is in the accuracy of her judgement of cases and their likely outcome. Her aim is to deliver the result the client wants as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. Nicola is not afraid to give direct advice and she never sits on the fence.’

          ‘We were very impressed with Napthens’ levels of customer service, both the people and the processes/systems they use helped us navigate through the contentious probate case with ease.’

          Work highlights

            Shoosmiths LLP

            Shoosmiths LLP covers all matters involving contentious probate disputes, although in recent years it has seen an increase in matters involving probate claims, Inheritance Act claims, and assisting charity clients with defending legacies. Adam Draper leads the Manchester team and is considered ‘an exceptional solicitor‘. Andrew Bishop is an expert in predatory marriage cases and high-value contested estates. Associate Rhiannon Edwards joined from Aaron & Partners LLP in April 2021, while senior associate Liam Brooke joined from Clarion in April 2022.

            Practice head(s):

            Adam Draper

            Other key lawyers:

            Andrew Bishop; Rhiannon Edwards; Liam Brooke


            ‘The team are experts in their field and there are not many firms which have a team dedicated purely to contentious probate and trust work, often this work is lumped in with other litigation. This team however is very niche and extremely competent and capable at what they do.’

            ‘Adam Draper is an exceptional solicitor who is always very pragmatic in his approach. He helps clients to work towards a sensible and cost-effective solution to resolve their matters as swiftly as possible. I never hesitate to recommend him as I know he can be relied upon to provide a great service and sound advice.’

            ‘Adam Draper is a stand-out individual who always finds the time to be responsive and generous with his time. I love that he provides as much practical guidance and help to potential clients even when it seems clear they’re unlikely to instruct for whatever reason, as chargeable clients who are spending good money with the firm.’

            ‘Legal expertise added to a practical approach. A bigger firm than many in the inheritance disputes field, but hasn’t lost the personal touch.’

            ‘Adam Draper knows the law, but is pragmatic and effective.’

            ‘Adam Draper and his team in the NW are very able and sensible practitioners in this field. They are always among my first choices.’

            ‘Sensible, well-versed in the law, and a very safe pair of hands.’

            ‘Within the huge Shoosmiths organisation, the contentious trusts and probate team has successfully avoided the risk of a one-size-fits-all approach to their cases – they give real care and attention to every case, with tailored and bespoke advice. Highly recommended.’

            Work highlights

              Aaron & Partners LLP

              Based in Chester and Shrewsbury, the team at Aaron & Partners LLP is led by James Wallace, a key contact regarding the litigation aspects of contentious trust and probate matters; however in addition to being recognised as an experienced mediator for contentious trust work. Clive Pointon is highly regarded for his work in Court of Protection and LPA disputes, as well as disputes involving inheritance tax problems. Senior associate Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu is noted for his expertise in farming and agriculture-related disputes, but also covers complex claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and proprietary estoppel.

              Practice head(s):

              Clive Pointon; James Wallace

              Other key lawyers:

              Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu


              ‘Absolutely brilliant. Could not fault them.’

              ‘Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu dealt with our case. He was absolutely amazing. Extremely knowledgeable and without him or this firm I doubt we would have had the outcome we did.’

              ‘From the very first meeting with James Wallace we were impressed with the sensitive and supportive manner in which our case was considered. Great care was taken to enable us to explain in detail the complexities of the matter and the responses from James imbued us with complete confidence regarding the firm’s ability to achieve a satisfactory outcome. The final outcome greatly surpassed our expectations and we have the outstanding staff of the firm, particularly James and Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu, to thank for this.’

              ‘My overall impression of the client service offered by Aaron and Partners is that it was outstanding in every area. Day to day administrative processes were undertaken with the utmost efficiency and competence, whilst always recognising the needs and wishes of the client. The interaction between us was truly collaborative, with consultation and negotiation being an important part of the process. Their legal expertise was fundamental in addressing daunting and seemingly insurmountable barriers; the firm’ s prompt response to emails and telephone calls provided constant reassurance in difficult situations – so greatly appreciated.’

              ‘Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu is very on the ball and has first rate commercial instincts. Extremely good at assessing risk for clients.’

              Work highlights

                Butcher & Barlow LLP

                Butcher & Barlow LLP assists clients with disputes involving wills, trusts, and probate work. Located in Sandbach, practice head Samuel Dale is noted for his broad experienced in both contentious and non-contentious trust and probate matters. He often works alongside two highly experienced litigators: Greg Porter, who operates out of Northwich, and Anthony Higham, based in Bury.

                Practice head(s):

                Samuel Dale

                Other key lawyers:

                Greg Porter; Anthony Higham


                ‘I can’t find any fault with Butcher & Barlow LLP. My dealings were with Sam Dale and I feel he went above and beyond in dealing with a stressful period. I have had nothing but exceptional service from Butcher & Barlow.’

                ‘Sam Dale is professional and extremely knowledgeable with a friendly personality, he responded very quickly to any correspondence and offered a five star service. Sam explained everything in a way that we could fully understand and was extremely sensitive to the situation we were in. I would highly recommend Sam to anyone.’

                ‘The team has very strong individuals who understand the commercial realities and who have a very clear focus on key issues.’

                Anthony Higham has a strong immediate grip both of a case and what can be achieved.’

                ‘Excellent communication and proper delegation through the team to make costs reasonable and proportionate in an area of law which can soon see costs run away from themselves. Great links between the contentious and non-contentious teams whilst again managing costs, but providing a first rate service.’

                ‘This is a very strong and knowledgeable team. That knowledge extends not just to the law, but also to strategic decision making and client care. In every case they strive to identify the correct approach to achieve the desired goals and regularly wrong-foot the other side due to a superior tactical approach.’

                ‘Greg Porter is extremely knowledgeable and always willing to strive for the client. Excellent legal analysis combined with a realistic and strong tactical approach. Brilliant client rapport.’

                ‘Samuel Dale is very smart with a good understanding of complexities.’

                Work highlights

                  DTM Legal LLP

                  DTM Legal LLP specialises in acting for claimants, defendants, and third parties on complex trusts and probate disputes. The team is well-versed in alternative dispute resolution and mediation, as well as litigation. Practice head Richard Thomas is a key contact regarding contentious probate matters. Senior associate Heather Lally joined from Bowcock Cuerden LLP in August 2021, specialising in Court of Protection matters and tax and trust law. Amanda Bailey  departed in October 2021.

                  Practice head(s):

                  Richard Thomas

                  Other key lawyers:

                  Heather Lally


                  ‘Richard Thomas’s advice was excellent: he was supportive and helped me keep matters in perspective.’

                  ‘The people in this team are super capable and commercial troubleshooters.’

                  ‘Richard Thomas provides great legal advice, is readily available and super responsive.’

                  Work highlights

                    Kuit Steinart Levy LLP

                    The specialist probate and trust team at Kuit Steinart Levy LLP deals with challenges to the validity of wills, disappointed beneficiary claims, and Inheritance Act 1975 claims. Practice head Peter Kaye is a key contact regarding high-value contentious trust and probate matters. Associate Richard Wilson specialises in litigation regarding the validity of wills. Paul Bricknell advises on contentious trust and estate matters, especially pertaining to family business succession.

                    Practice head(s):

                    Peter Kaye

                    Other key lawyers:

                    Richard Wilson; Paul Bricknell


                    ‘An excellent team that knows its onions!’

                    ‘Lawyers at Kuit Steinart Levy combine deep knowledge in their practice areas with astute tactical instincts for civil procedure. They have always delivered excellent service.’

                    Peter Kaye is a very experienced and commercially-minded litigator. He has sound judgement and knows when to prioritise ADR.’

                    Richard Wilson is clearly hard-working with fast turnaround times. He has a gut instinct for how issues will be viewed by the Courts and tailors his cases accordingly.’

                    ‘Paul Bricknell and his team are excellent in delivering sound pragmatic and commercial advice.’

                    ‘Paul Bricknell has excellent client handling skills and is always proactive in his advice.’

                    Work highlights

                      Slater Heelis

                      Slater Heelis covers claims under Inheritance Act 1975 claims, contentious Court of Protection matters, and other contentious probate matters. Managing partner Chris Bishop  leads the team from Sale and specialises in contentious probate litigation. Daniel Wise, who primarily deals with contentious probate and property litigation, made associate partner in May 2021.

                      Practice head(s):

                      Chris Bishop

                      Other key lawyers:

                      Daniel Wise


                      ‘The team is extremely user-friendly. They combine experience, legal knowledge and empathy which can be very important in this area.’

                      ‘Chris Bishop is an excellent lawyer and has a great way with clients.’

                      Work highlights