Contentious trusts and probate in North

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The ‘very brightWomble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP practice acts for individuals, trustees, insurance companies and charities across the UK and overseas. The experienced national team is led by Neil Long from London and has three full members of the Association of Contentious Trust And Probate Specialists, as well as being a member of the Association of Corporate Trustees. Notable is managing associate Richard Pike, who is ‘a very canny litigator’ specialising in advising corporate trustees, private individuals and insurers on the full range of contentious trust, estate and tax issues.

Practice head(s):

Neil Long

Other key lawyers:

Richard Pike


‘The team has experience of high value disputes which further lends credibility to its reputation.’

‘Exceptionally knowledgeable but also a pleasure to work with.’

‘Helpful, kind, pragmatic and sensible.’

‘Richard Pike provides measured advice. He remains composed and focused when time is short.’

‘Richard Pike knows the law inside out and will analyse the legal position very carefully. He is clever and able to think up imaginative solutions to complicated issues.’

‘Neil Long is absolutely charming!’

‘Solicitor Rosie Taylor is polite, very pleasant and easy to deal with.’

Key clients

Zedra (UK) Trusts Limited

Doreen Thompson

Work highlights

  • Instructed to advise Zedra’s in-house trust company on a range of contentious trust and probate issues that they have encountered in the course of administering a book of trusteeships and executorships that Zedra took on following the acquisition of a major bank’s in-house trust company.
  • Representing Doreen Thompson in a deeply contentious proprietary estoppel claim brought by the Defendant’s son.

Hay & Kilner

Known for dealing with complex disputes, Hay & Kilner specialises in agricultural matters, including challenging and defending the validity of wills and codicils, Inheritance Act 1975 claims, and jurisdictional issues relating to estate and trust assets. Lucy Gray is an associate member of the Association of Contentious Trust And Probate Specialists and has a particular expertise in trusts and estates involving agricultural land and assets. She leads the team with Martin Soloman, who focuses on complex probate and trust disputes, acting for farming families and high-net-worth individuals.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Gray; Martin Soloman


‘It is well established within Newcastle upon Tyne and has the requisite skills, knowledge and contact’s in the field of trusts and probate.’

‘Martin Soloman is extremely well versed in law and has an extensive collection of professionals in other areas to call upon when the need arises.’

‘Lucy Gray is trustworthy, knowledgable, capable, compassionate, measured and willing to fight the clients corner.’

Work highlights

  • Advising the client in relation to issued claims under the Inheritance Act and for proprietary estoppel.
  • Will challenge, potential removal of executrix, and claims under Inheritance Act and proprietary estoppel.
  • Defending proceedings for removal of trustees, including issues of sham trust created by settlor.
  • Claims against Executors and Trustees arising from mismanagement of estate and resulting discretionary trust.
  • Statutory Will application.

Ward Hadaway

Ward Hadaway acts in a range of contentious trusts, estate and probate matters. Commercial litigator Martin Woodford has a particular focus on high value disputes involving financial mis-selling, as well as in pension and trust disputes. Also notable is consultant Gaynor Jackson, who advises high-net-worth individuals in relation to wills, capital tax planning, trusts and estate matters. In addition, Jackson works with charities in relation to trust and estate issues.

Archers Law LLP

A well established wills and probate team at Archers Law LLP feeds into the contentious practice, which was boosted by the arrival of team leader Kenton Bazeley, who joined from Tilly Bailey & Irvine in 2018 and specialises in litigation. Angela Torrance is also a key name for the firm in this area, notably in contested probate and wills disputes.

Practice head(s):

Kenton Bazeley


Burnetts contentious trusts and probate practice acts in a range of matter from running Inheritance Act claims and advising executors on contentious administrations, to representing parties challenging wills and making application to court to remove difficult executors. James Johnston is head of disputes and his team includes senior associate Johnny Coulthard and consultant Patricia Hall, who have particular experience and expertise in high value cases, notably with a commercial element.

Practice head(s):

James Johnston

Other key lawyers:

Johnny Coulthard; Patricia Hall

Work highlights

  • Acted for Mr Thorpe in his successful claim in the case of Culliford & Anor. v. Thorpe [2018] EWHC 426 (Ch).

Sintons LLP

Specialising in litigation, Sintons LLP has two full members of the Association of Contentious Trust And Probate Specialists. Led by Angus Ashman, the team’s areas of expertise include Inheritance Act claims, administration disputes, constructive trust disputes, proprietary estoppel claims and court of protection disputes. Also notable is the ‘measured and robust’ senior associate Emma Saunders, who is a particular expert in contentious probate and is known for her ‘honesty, transparency and commitment to her clients’.

Practice head(s):

Angus Ashman

Other key lawyers:

Emma Saunders


‘They are a go to practice and aggressive in getting the right results.’ 

‘The team is responsive and committed to its clients and they don’t see their clients as fees but as people.’

‘The team is very solid and great value for money.’

‘Emma Saunders has a significant amount of top-level experience and is an excellent practitioner in this area, with a deep understanding of the law and its practical implication, and great instincts in running a claim.’

‘Emma Saunders knows how to take charge makes you feel like you are the only client on the books.’

‘Emma Saunders is a fantastic lawyer – she has a real feel for the practice area and thus helps her to manage the client’s expectations appropriately. She manages litigation expertly and gets great results.’


Work highlights

  • Representing client with mental health illness in challenge to late father’s multi-million estate.
  • Representing a cohabiting partner in a proprietary estoppel and Inheritance Act claim against her late partner’s cross-border estate.
  • Cross-border dispute concerning burial and domicile of the Deceased.
  • Claim against solicitors for negligent will drafting leading to a loss of the family home.
  • Representing client in defence of Part 64 application brought by court-appointed administrator of estate.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine

Court of protection specialist Tilly Bailey & Irvine has notable experience in trust creation and administration, as well as providing a dedicated investment management department. Nicola Dalzell leads the team and her expertise includes wills, administration of complex estates, protection of assets and estate planning. She can call on Carolyn Tilly who focuses on wills, probate, trusts and tax, with a particular interest in elderly client matters and the creation of trusts.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Dalzell

Other key lawyers:

Carolyn Tilly

Work highlights

  • Strategic succession planning for an individual & family with around several million pounds moved outside of the estate over a 15-year period.
  • Administered farming estate comprising of agricultural property relief.
  • Instructed to assist in the administration of a multi-million pound estate. Instructed to deal specifically with land and deeds left to a Cathedral.
  • Administered taxable estate of the client incorporating house, land and portfolio.