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Personal tax, trusts and probate in North

EMG Solicitors

The offering at EMG Solicitors is split into two distinct sub-teams; 'exceptional solicitorJemma Morland leads the renowned Court of Protection group, which is particularly noted for acting in a large number of high-net-worth professional deputyship cases, while Samantha Edward heads up the wills, trusts and probate department, which is known for advising a number of prominent local families on their estate planning issues. Also recommended is managing director Emma Gaudern, who is a Court of Protection deputy and also acts as a professional trustee in a number of high value personal injury trusts.

Practice head(s):

Jemma Morland; Samantha Edward

Other key lawyers:

Emma Gaudern


‘EMG Solicitors provide a professional service whilst always keeping the clients at the centre. They are skilled in working with challenging and complex clients. They think outside the box and approach complex problems in a logical and pragmatic way. I am most impressed by the team approach and the respect they have within the company and for other professionals.’

‘All employees are excellent. They have clearly defined roles and work as an efficient and effective team.’

‘Jemma Morland is an exceptional solicitor. She maintains a professional approach whilst working in a client centred way. Clients’ and family members are appreciative of her sensitivity to their individual needs. She is extremely approachable and brings a logical and creative problem solving approach to complex issues.’

‘This practice goes the extra mile in looking after clients. They pull out all the stops for clients. They are also sensible and practical in the way in which they handle issues. I trust their judgment.’

‘Samantha Edward is more than just a solicitor. She cares for people and that shows. She always had time and patience with us, making all the paperwork more bearable. Her naturally kind and loving personality made the whole process feel warmer and safer for us as a family. We would never use anyone else.’

‘This firm houses a bespoke private client practice with arguably unparalleled experience of the wide range of difficult issues that can arise.’

‘Made to feel as if I am their only client and what they say they will do they deliver on. Emma Gaudern is both knowledgeable and efficient, and importantly with a sense of humour when necessary!’

‘The quality of work produced has always been outstanding, the whole firm takes the time to build a longstanding relationship based on trust and ensuring the best outcome for the client.’

Hay & Kilner

During the course of 2020, Hay & Kilner significantly strengthened its offering at partner level, initially with the promotion of widely experienced practitioner Richard Marshall, and more recently with the acquisition of agricultural property specialist Joanne Milne from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. The firm continues to provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of private client work, with an emphasis on assisting high-net-worth individuals with a host of complex affairs. 'Exceptional' practice head Alison Hall has particular expertise in claiming agricultural and business property relief and the preparation of farming partnership agreements. Alice Clewes is noted for her tax and succession planning experience.

Practice head(s):

Alison Hall

Other key lawyers:

Richard Marshall; Alice Clewes; Joanne Milne


‘Personalised and focused client service. Forward thinking team which is expanding its skill set and adapting to meet local demands.’

‘A very warm and caring team.’

‘I trust Hay & Kilner to deliver excellent levels of service 100% of the time.’

‘From a financial planner point of view – they just get it. What I mean by that is that over the last 3 years I have been engaging with various other solicitors and I have never found one that is in line with my views on putting clients first until I met Alice Clewes at Hay & Kilner.’

‘Alison Hall is an exceptional private client partner. She is warm, friendly, knowledgeable, diplomatic and sensitive.’


Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The 'marvellous' team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is singled out by one client for its 'enviable strength in depth', and its ability to 'always have a lawyer available with specialist knowledge in their chosen field'. The group handles a wide range of contentious and advisory matters on behalf of high-net-worth individuals, often advising those with assets both in the US and UK. Simon Kirkup, David Dale and Helen Tavroges oversee the practice, which also includes tax planning expert George Lyall, legal director Deborah Jude and managing associate Emily Pike.

Practice head(s):

David Dale; Helen Tavroges; Simon Kirkup

Other key lawyers:

George Lyall; Emily Pike; Deborah Jude


‘A marvellous team. Hugely focused on client care. Their clients are at the centre of all they do. They are professional, responsive and are operating at the top of their area(s) of expertise.’

‘Womble Bond Dickinson have looked after my family’s affairs for over seventy years. We have always received a first class service. They provide excellent advice on a range of legal matters and they always have a lawyer available with specialist knowledge in their chosen field.’

‘The WBD team are extremely responsive and attentive. I know that my main contact, George Lyall, is always available at the end of the phone or by email. I think for a large firm, the personal touch is excellent. All the team members I have worked with work in a joined up, timely and professional manner. I can’t fault WBD.’

‘The team stands out to me because of its stability and its enviable strength in depth, combined with the calibre of its individual members. The team is an institution in its own right, and advises a sophisticated client base in complex matters to a high level. The team is clearly comfortable operating at the top of the professional field.’

‘Emily Pike is excellent and understanding.’

‘Simon Kirkup is the partner who deals with our affairs . He has a wide knowledge and I cannot recommend him more highly.’

‘My instructions come specifically from Emily Pike. I was amazed just now when I looked at the website and found she only qualified in 2008. Her legal and technical knowledge, and assured handling of me and the clients, are terrific. They suggested to me someone who has been in practice for very much longer. She has been extremely good at keeping me informed of developments. The documents she produces – from instructions, to notes of meetings, to complex trust documents – are exemplary. I cannot praise her enough!’

‘George Lyall, just an excellent level of personal support and professional understanding of our needs.’


The private capital team at DWF is most commonly instructed by high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs with private wealth and estate planning issues. The practice focuses particularly on assisting businesses and the family interests behind them; the group's close co-operation with the corporate and tax departments ensures that the offering is well placed to advise its entrepreneurial client base. The firm regularly deals with complex and cross-border probates, including those involving agricultural property, international and high value assets. The Newcastle office fields national practice head Jon Gould, and associate Laura Murphy is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Jon Gould

Other key lawyers:

Laura Murphy

Latimer Hinks Solicitors

Wealth protection, strategic planning, probate and elderly client issues are the core focuses for the offering at Latimer Hinks Solicitors . As well as its thorough and tailored succession and estate planning capability, the team is also noted for its comprehensive personal affairs service for older or more vulnerable individuals. Court of Protection issues, including statutory wills, removal of trustees and gifting, make up part of the regular workload of the group. With Elizabeth Armstrong and Natalie Palmer at the helm, the firm provides assistance with the full range of trust-related work, from creation, administration and management to completion of tax returns.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Armstrong; Natalie Palmer


‘I have always found it easy to speak to anyone in the team. They make themselves available even when they are busy and they are all knowledgeable and easy to speak to without exception. They never make you feel that you are wasting their time and are happy to give advice over the phone on complex issues without reverting to jargon or the usual lawyer speak that you get.’

‘I have known and worked with Elizabeth Armstrong for approaching 20 years and she is both knowledgeable and friendly with my clients, even if it is not something that is going to lead to billable time. This means that they are more likely to engage and come back to the firm time after time. She always puts the client first and makes it easy for clients to understand what they are doing and why in simple terms, despite her vast knowledge and experience.’

‘They are a team – they have regular team meetings to discuss points of law and specific cases, so as a client you know you are getting the benefit of the knowledge and care of the whole firm. Latimer Hinks worked at a distance with us and did this very well due to their up to date knowledge of similar difficult challenges, their flexibility and their use of technology. We would trust them to manage any of our legal issues even though they are far from local to us.’

‘Elizabeth Armstrong is everything a trusted advisor should be: highly professional, current in her knowledge and its application, empathetic and efficient. She also explains things in plain language without being patronising.’

‘Very highly regarded in wills, trusts, etc for landed estates and high net worth citizens of North Yorkshire/County Durham. Absolutely the firm to go to if you a farmer, landed gentry etc with significant inheritance issues.’

‘Elizabeth Armstrong stands out for her very good response times to clients.’

‘Latimer Hinks has given me a feeling of confidence in dealing with the many issues that had to be sorted. The service was business-like but more important, it was personal.’

Sintons LLP

Under the leadership of Paul Nickalls, the team at Sintons LLP continues to develop its expertise in dealing with cross-border estates, in order to better handle the increasing number of instructions it has latterly been receiving from clients with assets located across the world. Another area of growth for the firm is Court of Protection work; the practice recently consolidated its expertise in such matters by welcoming specialist Sophie Moore from London-based firm Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP. Senior associate Paul Collingwood is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Paul Nickalls

Other key lawyers:

Paul Collingwood; Sophie Moore


‘Sintons have provided impeccable, practical support to my family across a range of personal matters, often in difficult circumstances. They provide clear advice around the most complex areas.’

‘The Court of Protection team are quick, efficient and knowledgeable. They are extremely professional and able. Their client care is of a high level.’

‘The Sintons team are specialists in their field and this makes a big difference when dealing with important matters. They are responsive and attentive to client needs.’

‘Paul Nickalls and Paul Collingwood offer an excellent combination of skills, experience and client handling skills.’

‘I worked with Sintons managing a very complex case and they were really mindful of the individual’s circumstances, being empathetic and supportive. They have worked efficiently and communicated appropriately with the professionals involved, it was easy to involve them in a multi-disciplinary team. Overall it felt like a very personal service.’

‘I have always felt Sintons extends a personal touch in their dealings with me. I never felt like I was with a conveyor belt operation. The fee structure was carefully explained and bills were provided to me throughout the course of the action, rather than receiving one large bill at the end.’

‘An incredibly efficient team. Staff who are incredibly person-centred in their approach.’

‘Paul Nickalls has provided tremendous support to the whole family – he is approachable and happy to provide clear and pragmatic advice to us all.’

Ward Hadaway LLP

Corporate trustees, national charities, entrepreneurs and landowners regularly instruct the team of specialists in tax, trust and estate matters at Ward Hadaway. Practice head Andrew Facer is noted for his significant track record advising landed clients on succession structures, and his experience in dealing with employee benefit trusts work. Consultant Gaynor Jackson is a recognised expert when it comes to assisting the third sector with trust and estate issues. Other areas of strength for the practice include international estate administration and Court of Protection applications.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Facer

Other key lawyers:

Gaynor Jackson


‘Multi-talented team that works together well to ensure great client outcomes.’

‘They go the extra mile for clients in terms of the personal touch and that counts for a huge amount.’


The wills, trusts and probate division of BHP Law is overseen by Helen Biglin, with capable support from Holly Naylor - the two advise on the establishment and administration of trusts, and the issues arising around complex estates. On the Court of Protection side, the offering is further divided into a health and welfare team, which is jointly led by Stephen Williams and newly promoted partner Sapna Tugby, and a property and finances group, which is headed up by Karen Pratt. The firm's offering was further strengthened by the arrival of Michelle Coulson in April 2020.

Practice head(s):

Helen Biglin; Karen Pratt; Stephen Williams

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Coulson; Holly Naylor; Sapna Tugby


‘First class service.’

‘Focused, driven and knowledgeable about a range of aspects of the law pertaining to Court of Protection work.’

‘Good inter-personal relationship skills. Effective at ensuring information is communicated and high standards are met.’

‘Good working relationships with family and professionals.’

‘The team are easily contactable, both when working in the office and from home. Knowledgeable in relation to Court of Protection proceedings. Develop a good working relationship.’

‘Helen Biglin and her private client team are first class in replying promptly to emails, providing advice by return and supplying the relevant documents etc. The team is very efficient in moving matters forward and to a conclusion.’


Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd

Traditional landed families and estates form the core of the client base at Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd; many have been instructing the firm for generations, and appreciate the team's seasoned understanding of local farming issues. The team is also recognised for handling work relating to intestate estates, for which Kath Monteith is the key name to note. Practice head Derwent Gibson is supported by experienced practitioners Chris Sheppard and Michael Macgregor.

Practice head(s):

Derwent Gibson

Other key lawyers:

Chris Sheppard; Kath Monteith; Michael Macgregor


‘Firstly I would say that the team is very approachable. At no point have I requested a call, or email and had the request ignored. They always deliver a trustworthy, high quality and friendly service. Very professional.’

‘Chris Sheppard handled a complex family matter very well. He handled the situation formidably and we were very happy with the resolve. Use of Zoom tech made communication much easier. We felt that the billing was very reasonable too and showed maximum transparency. Couldn’t be happier!’

‘I place a great deal of faith in Kath Monteith and her expertise and knowledge. I find her very approachable and she always delivers for my clients. My clients always comment on the fact that she explains things in a concise but non-jargon way and takes the time to explain, with no pressure.’

‘Chris Sheppard dealt with our situation. His acute level of knowledge in the required area was highly beneficial to us and he was willing to use new technologies to communicate more easily throughout. We felt taken seriously from the offset and always treated with respect and importance. Billing was always maximally transparent and the final bill was very reasonable considering all the time invested and the difficult family member of ours he was forced to deal with, whom I know made a nuisance of herself in every possible way. He did a fine job and deserves our strongest recommendation!’

Key clients

M R Finn Will Trust

Work highlights

  • Appointed by the court to act as professional trustees of the M R Finn Will Trust.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine

Tilly Bailey & Irvine's offering is split across four offices in the North East, and fields specialists in a variety of core areas, ensuring that the team is well equipped to deal with the full gamut of private client matters. Helen Dexter is the key contact for agricultural work, and advises on estate administration, trusts and taxation matters. Practice head Nicola Dalzell is known for her focus on matters concerning mental capacity, Court of Protection, powers of attorney and elderly clients. Managing partner Carolyn Tilly is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Dalzell

Other key lawyers:

Carolyn Tilly; Helen Dexter


At Burnetts, practice head Rachael Stephenson's specialisms include advising on private and charitable trusts, and assisting business owners with personal planning. The firm regularly deals with the succession planning needs associated with more complex family arrangements, such as in cases of vulnerable beneficiaries, second marriages and cross-jurisdictional estates. Timothy Boardman is a key contact for agricultural clients.

Practice head(s):

Rachael Stephenson

Other key lawyers:

Timothy Boardman


‘Contacts are ALWAYS available with friendly and helpful advice. I have always been given a personal service of the highest level.’

‘Rachael Stephenson has a sympathetic approach but also shows a great wealth of knowledge and experience.’

‘The partners offer a wide range of experience. Always available to help with any issue no matter how small.’


Iain Nicholson & Co

Wealth planning and property issues - be they commercial, residential or agricultural - form the cornerstone of the practice at Iain Nicholson & Co. Respected practitioner Iain Nicholson leads the team, which also includes Peter DakinVictoria Stevenson and associate Lauren Wilson. The firm also regularly handles Court of Protection applications; Stevenson is the name to note for this type of work.

Practice head(s):

Iain Nicholson

Other key lawyers:

Peter Dakin; Victoria Stevenson; Lauren Wilson

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Working closely with colleagues in the corporate department, the wills, trusts and probate team at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP is instructed by a steadily increasing volume of high-net worth clients with business interests. As well as advising on the full range of estate administration and planning issues, the firm also assists with powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. 'Amazing professionalLouise Miller leads the practice, which also includes recommended practitioners Lydia McCaslin and Victoria Richer.

Practice head(s):

Louise Miller

Other key lawyers:

Lydia McCaslin; Victoria Richer


‘The team at Mincoffs are extremely easy to deal with and communication between them is great. They are thoroughly client focussed and that makes them very easy to deal with.’

‘Mincoffs solicitors are knowledgeable, efficient and professional. My family and I worked with them after our father passed away and they worked indefatigably to deal with the complicated estate. We were informed, advised and involved every step of the way. Their fees are competitive and they facilitated the smooth completion of the complicated, protracted process.’

‘Louise Miller at Mincoffs is an amazing professional. She is extremely knowledgeable in her field of wills and probate. She always finds time in her busy schedule to keep in touch and update her clients. My family and I have worked with her for over three years with regards to our late parents’ estate and our family trusts. She is very personable and easy to work with. She also gets things done and has an excellent knowledge base.’

‘Friendly, approachable team.’

‘I cannot recommend Louise Miller highly enough, she is very approachable, and explains legal matters in an understandable, straightforward manner. She comprehensively walked me through the power of attorney process in a patient manner, I never felt under any pressure to make any decisions and it has been a weight off my mind having this in place.’

‘I was extremely impressed by the ease of communication, friendliness and professionalism of Victoria Richer and would have no hesitation to have her act on my behalf in future. Her ability to explain, in layman’s terms, the complexities involved, to have relevant information always at her finger tips and her work ethic to ensure I got the best service possible was impressive. Her dedication and drive to achieve the desired outcome was also commendable.’

‘High level of personal care to clients. Transparency. Clear and balanced explanation of sometimes complex issues.’

‘Lydia McCaslin was particularly helpful in answering queries promptly and in enough detail without blinding me with legal jargon. I felt she had a real interest in my case.’


Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP's offering is best known for providing bespoke private client services to business owners, company directors and senior executives, as well as to former business owners who have exited by sale. Practice head Keith Hately and senior associate Julie Garbutt are the team one client would 'reliably recommend for more complex and challenging estate, succession and inheritance tax planning cases'. For landed farming clients, David Towns, who heads up the firm's agriculture, estates and rural property group, is the key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Keith Hately

Other key lawyers:

David Towns; Julie Garbutt


‘Excellent team work and clever caring individuals make it a pleasure to deal with the firm.’

‘Keith Hately and Julie Garbutt are reassuringly competent and are very good communicators who we reliably recommend for more complex and challenging estate, succession and inheritance tax planning cases.’

‘Exceptional experience and understanding, especially with reference to trusts. Approachable and friendly.’

‘We work most closely with Keith Hately and Julie Garbutt. Both provide strong client service and are straightforward communicators.’

‘Strong client service. Regional focus. Approachable and engaged partners.’

‘They carry out the tasks efficiently, promptly and professionally – outstanding is Julie Garbutt for the work we ask her to do on clients’ wills, trusts and Power of Attorneys.’

‘Muckle LLP have built a strong private client offering to serve company owners/directors and other clients, and they bring their professionalism and understanding to it.’

‘Strong technical knowledge and willingness to share knowledge.’

Work highlights

  • Advising the owner of a national business and a family investment company on a full review of the family wills, trusts and other related arrangements.
  • Advising a well-known local property investor and entrepreneur on the establishment of family trusts and the preparation of wills for himself and his family, comprising a number of individuals including some who are resident overseas.
  • Assisting the executors of the estate of the deceased owner of a nationally known business.

Short Richardson & Forth

National and international high-net-worth clients turn to the group at Short Richardson & Forth to advise them on trust and estate administration issues and complex succession planning measures; practice head Lisa Berg is particularly experienced in assisting farmers and business owners, including entrepreneurs. 'Brilliant' associate Elizabeth Gibbison is noted for dealing with complex estates, including those where assets are unknown, those with multi-jurisdictional elements, those involving warring executors, those including missing beneficiaries, and those where there are multiple caveats in place.

Practice head(s):

Lisa Berg

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Gibbison


‘A personal service and they genuinely care about all of their clients. Extremely proficient and especially during the pandemic able to adapt very quickly to continue to provide the best service they can offer.’

‘Elizabeth Gibbison is fantastic – her business ethos matches our own very well and she offers a first class service. She is professional, helpful, very responsive and empathetic. She will take on any task and succeed extremely well.’

‘The individuals representing the firm all take pride in the service they deliver both at firm level and personally. It is very clear that they enjoy what they do and are committed to delivering exceptional service standards.’

‘The team are not only very knowledgeable and confident in advising clients, they also build a good rapport with clients and usually go above and beyond what is required in order to deliver a first class service.’

‘Elizabeth Gibbison provides a level of service to her clients which is incomparable. I always feel confident in referring clients to her as my experience of her is that she will often go above and beyond to meet their needs. She has a wealth of knowledge and is very resourceful in ensuring clients have an all round good service.’

‘In working with this team I found them to not only provide an extremely professional and efficient service but balanced this with personable communications. I felt listened to and confident in the guidance and services provided.’

‘Elizabeth Gibbison has been especially noteworthy, being able to communicate in lay-person speak and using analogies to make rather complex legal frameworks and process very easy to understand and follow.’

‘They have a good diverse range of knowledge covering all aspects of legal advice. They also are trustworthy and have provided guidance and advice on options for tax efficiency and probate, as well as my own succession planning.’

‘Elizabeth Gibbison was brilliant – my father’s will was handled with great respect and very efficiently. Elizabeth was easy to access and easy to get along with.’

Swinburne Maddison LLP

A broad range of clients, from elderly individuals to high-ranking officials with complex business interests and tax concerns, instruct the team at Swinburne Maddison. Managing associate Anna Stephenson leads the offering, with support from seasoned practitioner John Davison; the duo have particular experience assisting with inheritance tax planning. The group also fields recently promoted managing associate Nadine Walton, and  Jennifer Purvis, who specialises in lifetime estate planning and the post-death administration of estates.

Practice head(s):

Anna Stephenson

Other key lawyers:

John Davison; Nadine Walton; Jennifer Purvis


‘Excellent service. Very comprehensive explanations and answers to our queries.’

‘Professional, available, listen to clients and what they need.’

‘It is clear that there are strong and well-defined relationships between team members who demonstrate confidence and respect. The response to the current pandemic has demonstrated an innovative and flexible approach which has protected staff while maintaining the highest standards in terms of client services.’

‘Friendly, approachable and willing to listen.’

‘Anna Stephenson is a stand out, compassionate practitioner.’

‘I have found Nadine Walton to be sympathetic and patient, while at the same time providing the best professional advice and guidance. She has taken care to understand the circumstances of our situation, recognised the outcomes that we have sought and provided the legal guidance necessary to achieve those ends. She has never failed to ensure that the advice given has been properly received and clearly understood. She has made herself available and always responded in a timely manner. She has encouraged feedback and questions and has at all times sought to be business-like while making every effort to explain as simply as possible what have, at times, been complex legal processes and procedures.’

‘Seek to talk in a language clients can understand. Excellent listeners. Offer clear and precise advice on relevant matters.’

‘The private client team are all very personable and friendly yet highly knowledgeable. They make sure matters are dealt with in a way that clients understand whilst maintaining the high bar for optimal planning.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a client on the establishment of discretionary trusts, flexible life interest trusts and the preparation of wills, with careful consideration of business property relief due to the parties’ shareholdings.
  • Providing detailed trust, estate and tax-planning advice to a married couple with a high value estate comprised of significant agricultural assets, real estate and four family businesses.
  • Assisting with the administration of a complex estate, which includes multiple shareholdings, investment portfolios and assets held in trust.