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Contentious trusts and probate in North West

DWF

In addition to litigation and mediation relating to wills, probate, powers of attorney and Inheritance Act cases, DWF also acts for trustees and trust companies in trust administration issues and bankruptcy disputes. Working across the firm's Manchester and Liverpool offices, the team has a proven track record in complex cross-border trust and probate disputes. Manchester-based Christopher Noel leads the private capital team, while the 'very astute' Daniel Williams, who was recently promoted to director, continues to expand his practice. Liverpool-based Paul Maddock is another name to note.

Other key lawyers:

Paul Maddock

Testimonials

‘This is an excellent team in the North for contentious trusts and probate.’ 

‘I have worked with Dan Williams, who is very astute.’

‘This team is developing a well-deserved reputation in the area of contentious probate.’ 

‘Dan Williams is an outstanding young lawyer. He displayed significant maturity in dealing with a very high tension difficult 1975 Act claim.’ 

‘Really big players in this market dealing with high-value disputes.’ 

‘Dan Williams is brilliant. Clever, pragmatic and always completely calm. I have never seen him ruffled.’

‘Understand the need to avoid reliance on in-house legal team and instead work directly with the business client and provide pragmatic, commercial advice without internal team needed to intervene.’ 

Mills & Reeve LLP

With noted expertise in trust disputes involving onshore and offshore clients, the expanding team at Mills & Reeve LLP is headed up by Simon Pedley, who has experience acting for high-net-worth-individuals, charities, Oxbridge colleges and trust companies. The team handles disputes over the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors, breach of trust and Inheritance Act claims, and Court of Appeal cases. Associate Ben Reeves is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Simon Pedley

Other key lawyers:

Ben Reeves

Key clients

Zedra Trust Company (UK) Limited

The beneficiary of an Isle of Man trust

Oxbridge college

Work highlights

  • Acted for the executor of a significant estate in securing the removal and replacement of his co-executor.
  • Act for the professional independent administrator of a highly valuable and litigious estate on a whole host of litigation matters.
  • Acting for a member of a well-known North West business family, in relation to various difficult issues concerning the proper law of the trust, the construction of various provisions within it, and the validity of appointments out of the trust fund.

Myerson Solicitors LLP

The 'true specialists' at Myerson Solicitors LLP are 'adept at dealing with cases involving complex estates, trusts and high net-worth individuals', representing both claimants and defendants. The firm enjoys a particularly strong reputation representing clients in high-value Inheritance Act matters. Helen Thompson, who is rated as a 'first-rate litigator and charismatic leader', leads the Cheshire team, which acts for a variety of domestic and international individuals, trustees, executors and administrators, attorneys, deputies, and charities. Assistant solicitor Stephanie Ewan is also highly regarded by clients.

Practice head(s):

Helen Thompson

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Ewan; Tom Evans; Alice Vale

Testimonials

‘Myerson stand out in two respects: their absolute professionalism and their caring attitude. They are very customer-focused but put ethics above profit.’ 

‘Tom Evans and Stephanie Ewan are superb.’ 

‘The contentious trust and probate team at Myerson are extremely well regarded in the North-West and deservedly so. They are true specialists, adept at dealing with cases involving complex estates, trusts, and high net-worth individuals. They are particularly experienced in claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, probate claims, and claims involving breach of executor/trustee duties.’ 

‘Helen Thompson is a first-rate litigator and charismatic leader of the team.’ 

‘The team are very cooperative and efficient with following up on matters related to the probate.’ 

‘Both Stephanie and Helen who I have met personally have conducted themselves and dealt with me professionally and in accordance with the work summaries.’

‘The team I have been dealing with have been very compassionate and supportive at a very difficult time. They have worked closely with me to help me understand my legal position and have always offered options to me. I think they see the person behind the customer and the real pain that is there.’ 

‘Helen Thompson and Stephanie Ewan have been amazing. They have combined their professional knowledge with a degree of compassion for my own circumstances and worked to ensure I understand my situation. They have even sent me follow-up emails in plain language to help me remember their advice and answers to my questions.’ 

‘Stephanie Ewan and Helen Thompson have been extremely pleasant, informative and importantly, patient and supportive.’ 

‘The ability to understand clearly the needs of the client and recognise their fears and concerns sets this practice apart from the others.’ 

‘Professional etiquette and empathy are outstanding qualities in both Helen Thompson and Stephanie Ewan with whom I have worked. They stand apart from competitors because they work tirelessly for the right results in the end. They possess many admirable qualities but their stand out attribute is their honesty and commitment to the astonishing work they do.’ 

‘Myersons Solicitors have lawyers of the calibre of larger firms and deliver innovative legal solutions to issues. They have a deep knowledge base across multi-disciplines and a joined-up departmental approach.’ 

‘Helen Thompson is an extremely knowledgeable, focused and talented litigator. Not all lawyers are born equal and for me, Helen is best in class.’ 

‘Helen Thompson runs a very happy team completely dedicated to brilliant service for their clients. I worked on a long-running matter on which they pulled out all the stops. Stephanie Ewan is a rising star.’ 

‘Helen Thompson leads the team from the front with clear pragmatic and fair advice.’ 

‘The practice is growing from strength to strength and looks to be expanding and investing in top quality Solicitors within its team.’

‘Alice Vale was utterly professional. Always confident, brisk and incisive. Always responsive to my telephone calls and emails. Always attentive and precise she demonstrated meticulous attention to detail and absolute control and understanding of my case.’

Pannone Corporate LLP

Led by Nicola Marchant, the contentious trusts and probate team at Pannone Corporate LLP acts in a variety of mid- and high-net-worth estate and trust disputes. It represents an assortment of regional and national clients, as well as an increasing number of international clients. Acting for claimants, executors and beneficiaries in a variety of claims under the Inheritance Act is a key area of strength. Directors Jonny Scholes and Jane Shaw are further names to note.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Marchant

Other key lawyers:

Jane Shaw; Jonny Scholes

Addleshaw Goddard

Drawing on the wider firm’s expertise in professional negligence, partnership and civil fraud matters, the team at Addleshaw Goddard handles complex, cross-border trust litigation, often in conjunction with its international offices. Acting for high-net-worth individuals and onshore and offshore trust companies (with a growing practice representing charities in Inheritance Act claims), the department is spearheaded by Manchester-based Yorke Eaton, a 'quick-thinking, intelligent' lawyer who regularly acts for trustees in issues pertaining to business assets.

Practice head(s):

Yorke Eaton

Testimonials

‘Addleshaw Goddard has a capable and experienced private client team. They work hard for their clients in looking after their interests.’ 

‘Yorke Eaton is quick-thinking, intelligent and calm under pressure. He is an excellent team player and always maintains a positive approach.’ 

Brabners LLP

Brabners LLP’s contentious trusts and probate specialists are primarily known for advising high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals on UK and international assets. The team is led by Tom Smith, an experienced litigator and former head of dispute resolution at Forbes Solicitors who joined the firm in 2019. Working closely with the firm's family and personal tax practices, the team acts for clients in disputes over wills, estate administration issues, inheritance claims and Court of Protection and Charities Act proceedings. Associate Stephanie Kerr, who joined from Napthens LLP in 2019, acts alongside Smith in the firm’s most significant work in this space.

Practice head(s):

Tom Smith

Other key lawyers:

Stephanie Kerr; Simon Morris

Testimonials

‘This firm reaches out and has a personal touch.’

‘I reached out and found Stephanie Kerr and found her very attentive and a personal touch to my issue. She is a genuine person and compassionate.’ 

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented a beneficiary responding to a High Court claim by professional executors for directions seeking approval of the estate accounts, resulting in a significant costs order against the opposing beneficiary.
  • Advising a beneficiary of a homemade will using technology to recreate an animated electronic representation of the will demonstrating amendments being made over time.
  • Acting for the sole beneficiary of an estate in relation to funds held in the deceased’s bank accounts during their lifetime which were allegedly transferred by a third party after the deceased lost mental capacity.

Forbes Solicitors

As 'credible regional alternative to a major city firm', Forbes Solicitors’ practice continues to grow year-on-year, acting for clients including high-net-worth individuals, charities and local authorities on a range of matters. It specialises in inheritance claims, breach of trust claims, will validity challenges and funeral and burial disputes. Headed up by Ben Wilson, who is 'experienced and effective in securing quality outcomes for clients', the team acts for clients on a local, national, and international basis.

Practice head(s):

Ben Wilson

Other key lawyers:

Tom Howcroft

Testimonials

‘Ben Wilson has considerable expertise running Inheritance Act claims, securing good results for his clients through negotiation in cases which, on their face, often seem weak.’ 

‘This work at Forbes is led up by the excellent Ben Wilson, who has created a niche team around him specialising in this work. The number of instructions the team receives is a testament to their high reputation in the sector.’ 

‘Ben Wilson is a specialist who leads the team. He is experienced and effective in securing quality outcomes for clients in a cost-effective way.’ 

‘Forbes manages to combine the very best aspects of a major regional firm with a small firm’s attention to the little things that matter to people of all walks of life. Its staff are courteous in their dealings not only with their own customers but with fellow professionals which promotes a more cost-effective consensus whenever that opportunity remains a possibility. A credible regional alternative to a major city firm.’ 

‘Ben Wilson is a popular, well presented and credible legal service provider in the incredibly complex environment of civil litigation. His advice is accessible, pragmatic and cost-sensitive.’ 

Gorvins Solicitors

Working closely with the firm’s with litigation, corporate and commercial departments, Gorvins Solicitors’ contentious trust and probates specialists regularly act in cases involving disputed estates, fraudulent wills, Inheritance Act issues, and questions over mental capacity. Christine Thornley heads up the Cheshire-based team, which also includes senior associate Danielle Clements, who is praised by clients as 'professional, competent and courteous'.

Practice head(s):

Christine Thornley

Other key lawyers:

Danielle Clements

Testimonials

‘Danielle Clements was invariably professional, competent, and courteous. She always took time to explain legal points that were not apparent to me.’ 

JMW Solicitors LLP

Led by Alison Parry, who has 'good tactical nous and is also very good at dealing with vulnerable clients', the team at JMW Solicitors LLP acts in challenges to wills as well as claims under the Inheritance Act. The team, which operates as part of the commercial litigation practice, also regularly handles trust disputes including issues relating to the rectification of wills and disputes involving executors or trustees. Another name to note is associate solicitor Ian Johnston.

Practice head(s):

Alison Parry

Other key lawyers:

Ian Johnston

Testimonials

‘Great team. Good legal knowledge and commercial approach to litigation.

‘The team moves very quickly, and is very calm and knowledgeable.’ 

‘Alison Parry was easy to talk to; no question I asked was too small or unimportant. She was very friendly and her assessment of things was honest, which is what you need. I’ve had nothing but good things to say about Alison and the firm to all my friends and family purely because of how good Alison was. She was excellent from start to end, everything you need and would want from a solicitor.’ 

‘The individuals I have worked with have been excellent, and provide a very capable service.’ 

‘I have mostly worked with Alison Parry, who is a very capable private client litigator. She has good tactical nous and is also very good at dealing with vulnerable clients – though she is also able to come across very robustly to opponents, and brooks no-nonsense. I would recommend her without hesitation.’ 

‘Very knowledgeable in their field and were very compassionate at a difficult time.’ 

‘Ian Johnston really supported me during a very difficult time in my life. Can’t put a price on that as he went out of his way to sort everything out for me.’ 

Work highlights

  • Acted for a minor with specialist needs who was omitted from his late father’s will.
  • Acted for the dependant mother of a deceased child in respect of provision from the child’s estate.
  • Acted for beneficiaries in a highly complex trust dating back to the 18th century, in which the trust document itself was thought to have been destroyed by a World War Two bomb.

Shoosmiths LLP

The team at Shoosmiths LLP is headed up by Adam Draper, who represents a wide range of clients in trust disputes, validity disputes and Inheritance Act cases. The team acts for corporate clients, charities, trustees, and high-net-worth individuals, working closely with other departments within the firm, on matters encompassing wealth protection issues, tax and trust work, corporate mandates, commercial disputes and Court of Protection litigation.

Practice head(s):

Adam Draper

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Bishop

Testimonials

‘Adam Draper and Andrew Bishop are a class act.’

‘This is a niche area of work, and most of the expert practitioners know one another. It is an area where conflicts can often arise, and it is therefore important to have competent, trusted colleagues at other firms to whom one can feel happy referring clients. Adam Draper and his team fulfil the criteria admirably.’

‘Adam Draper is quietly confident and fiercely bright. Don’t let Adam’s charming and unassuming style fool you; beneath the warm exterior lurks a sharp legal intellect and a desire to back his clients to the hilt.’

‘Andrew Bishop is that rare thing: a technical, black-letter lawyer who handles vulnerable or demanding clients with sympathy and tact. As a litigator, he is patient, pragmatic, and desperate to save his clients money. He also has one eye on the bigger picture. A sure-fire partner in the making.’

‘Adam Draper and Andrew Bishop are pleasant, down to earth and extremely competent.’

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in a spousal claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 after the client’s partner bequeathed his estate to his brother.
  • Acted for a client in a spousal claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 as the client was  dependent on their late partner for accommodation and payment of household bills.
  • Represented a son in a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 against his father’s estate.

Aaron & Partners LLP

Wills and trusts specialist Clive Pointon and litigator James Wallace jointly head up the contentious trusts and probate team at Aaron & Partners LLP. Alongside its contentious trusts work, the team specialises in Court of Protection disputes. The department also acts for a large number of high-net-worth individuals and offers clients alternative funding options.

Practice head(s):

Clive Pointon; James Wallace

Testimonials

‘The team at Aaron & Partners work well together and support each other to provide a good professional service.’ 

‘James Wallace shows empathy and listens to what I have to say. He explains how and what his plan is for proceeding with my case. He considers my opinion and if it is appropriate includes it.’ 

‘I wholeheartedly recommend James, who was highly proficient and professional, while at the same time showing appropriate concern. Having James on my “Team” made all the difference.’ 

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client in issuing proceedings for additional provision from late husband’s estate under the Inheritance Act, with a view to amending the terms of the life interest to remove the co-habitation provision and also acquire a further cash lump sum from the estate.
  • Acted for the sole beneficiary of her late husband’s estate on issues relating to a transfer to another woman that the recipient claimed was a gift, arguing it was in fact a loan.
  • Represented the client in a challenge to her aunt’s last will which left her estate to a charity.

Butcher & Barlow LLP

At Butcher & Barlow LLP, executors, beneficiaries, trustees and others challenging the validity of wills and trusts are represented in complex disputes, particularly claims which arise under the Inheritance Act. Sandbach-based Samuel Dale, who handles both contentious and non-contentious work, leads the team, which regularly acts for high-net-worth clients.

Practice head(s):

Samuel Dale

Other key lawyers:

Anthony Higham

Testimonials

‘In my view, there is a clear teamwork ethos, and high standards are expected across the department.’ 

‘Anthony Higham is a seasoned litigator who quickly grips the issues and underlying risks and benefits of the client position. In my view, his experience inspires real confidence, and I am sure that it will have the same effect on clients.’

Work highlights

  • Representing the wife of a deceased in a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975 and also a claim for a beneficial interest in the former matrimonial home.
  • Acting for the executors of an estate in a claim seeking an order that the deceased’s will be pronounced in solemn form following allegations of lack of capacity, undue influence and fraudulent calumny by the deceased’s nieces.
  • Representing the daughter of the deceased in a claim against the deceased’s estate for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975 and also challenging the validity of the will on the grounds of lack of capacity, undue influence and fraudulent calumny.

DTM Legal LLP

Duncan  McAllister heads up the Chester team at DTM Legal LLP, which specialises in breach of trust claims, estates disputes and claims in relation to properties; much of the group's work comes from referrals from other solicitors in the North West. The team has experience acting for trustees, personal representatives, claimants, and defendants, and regularly attempts to resolve claims through alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

Practice head(s):

Duncan McAllister

Gateley Plc

The team at Gateley Plc handles a range of contentious trust cases, acting in Inheritance Act claims, professional negligence claims, disputes between executors, protection of executors in breach of trust claims, and will validity disputes. The team, which is jointly headed up by Janine Allen and 'thoughtful, bright and capable' senior associate James Seed, works in close collaboration with the firm’s non-contentious private client team.

Practice head(s):

Janine Allen; James Seed

Testimonials

‘The team is knowledgeable, friendly and efficient.’ 

‘James Seed is thoughtful, bright and capable. He is friendly and genuinely cares about the outcome and his client’s experience, but he can switch into tough, no-nonsense litigator mode if necessary. A very good man to have in your corner.’ 

Jolliffe & Co LLP

Forming part of the boutique firm’s dispute resolution department and headed up by Stewart Burrows, Jolliffe & Co LLP’s contentious trusts and probate practice focuses on disputes over the validity of wills and high-value Inheritance Act claims.

Practice head(s):

Stewart Burrows

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP

Led by Andrew Weinberg, the team at Kuit Steinart Levy LLP predominantly acts for business owners, family businesses and high-net-worth individuals. Combining its probate and litigation offerings, the team acts in all types of challenges to the validity of wills, including Inheritance Act claims.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Weinberg

Slater Heelis

Drawing expertise from the firm’s family and commercial litigation departments, Slater Heelis also receives contentious probate instructions, including claims under IPFDA and trust disputes. Managing partner Chris Bishop acts for high-net-worth individuals in complex and high-value trust and probate disputes, while senior associate Daniel Wise is also adept at handling property and trust disputes. Elizabeth Wilkinson leads the wider dispute resolution team.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Wilkinson

Other key lawyers:

Chris Bishop; Daniel Wise

Testimonials

‘Chris Bishop is handling a Will dispute for us. Obviously the most stressful time of our lives, but Chris’ calming way helps greatly to smooth our anxiety. We felt an instant connection from the first moment we spoke to him. He is approachable, friendly but means business when he needs to. He completely listens to our views and advises rather than instructs.’ 

‘There was a very personable way in which Chris Bishop handled our case and we felt both informed and assured without being bogged down in legal terms and text.’ 

‘Chris Bishop had a very personable, human approach understanding the difficulty and sensitivity of the case without any loss of professionalism. His advice and guidance steered us throughout this ordeal whilst keeping us very much in control and informed at all times.’