Rising Stars

Personal tax, trusts and executries in Scotland

Anderson Strathern

Counting some of Scotland's richest families among its clients, Anderson Strathern's private client team advises on high-value property matters, tax and ownership planning issues as well as on the establishment of family investment companies. Dual qualified in Scotland and in England and Wales, accredited trusts law specialist Carole Tomlinson undertakes complex trust work for a number of Scottish landed estates and heads the team. Martin Campbell's practice covers asset protection, succession and ownership planning, while Alasdair Johnstone routinely assists high-net-worth individuals with tax planning. David Campbell, senior associate Sarah Lonie and associate Nick Dobbs are other key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Carole Tomlinson

Other key lawyers:

Nick Dobbs; David Campbell; Sarah Lonie; Alasdair Johnstone; Martin Campbell


‘A stand-out member of staff for us was David Campbell. Our case became more complex than expected and he was extremely tenacious in resolving the issues for us, including appearing in court to put forward our case.’

‘They provide consistent first-class service.’

‘Sarah Lonie is very professional, knowledgeable and extremely helpful.’

Work highlights

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP acts for several of Scotland’s wealthiest individuals and families, providing assistance with the full range of private client matters. Working in close conjunction with its family law team, the group is particularly adept advising on the establishment and administration of family investment companies and limited partnerships. Its deep and experienced bench is led by Mark Stewart (qualified in Scotland as well as in England and Wales), and includes tax planning expert Alan Barr and Angela McCulloch, who advises on winding up estates and the establishment of family investment companies. Leigh Gould has a particular focus on advising rural businesses and landowners, while Susanne Batchelor handles complex estate planning for high-net-worth individuals. Hayley Robertson is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Mark Stewart

Other key lawyers:

Alan Barr; Susanne Batchelor; Caitlin Wright; Stewart Gibson; Jessica Flowerdew; Norman Kennedy; Hayley Robertson; Leigh Gould; Angela McCulloch


‘Susanne Batchelor and Caitlin Wright are excellent, responsive to emails and always give excellent advice.’

‘Extremely professional with a deep depth of knowledge throughout the team.’

‘Susanne Batchelor is an amazing private client lawyer; she is very switched on and approachable. She leads a fabulous team with Stewart Gibson and Jessica Flowerdew. All of them are equally good – a safe pair of hands.’

‘Norman Kennedy is a hugely experienced private client lawyer. His breadth of knowledge and application of it cuts through complex legal issues to provide solutions which satisfy requirements and are commercially acceptable/beneficial. His chartered accountancy and legal qualifications set him apart as he fully understands the financial consequences of his legal advice. Norman is very engaging and personable and relaxes clients and colleagues alike.’

‘An excellent team well led. Efficient, competent and ahead of the game, timeous delivery, and lawyers very personable. All sectors well covered with good collaboration when required.’

‘Leigh Gould is one of the top private client practitioners in Aberdeen.’

‘Hayley Robertson is extremely professional, technically excellent and has a lovely way of making clients feel very relaxed and comfortable.’

‘Angela McCulloch is not only a highly technical and excellent lawyer, she is extremely personable, easy to talk to and is very generous with her time. She is a great sounding board, and if there have been any concerns or questions with a case, she is able to explain things in simple terms, is very thorough and is always able to provide good outcomes.’

Work highlights

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn‘s private wealth and tax team maintains its wide-ranging offering for high-net-worth individuals based both in Scotland and abroad. The firm has demonstrable strength in cross-border and international matters and is frequently instructed to assist with complex estates matters involving overseas assets, domicile issues and offshore trusts. Malcolm Rust leads the overall team from Edinburgh; his broad practice covers tax and succession planning for wealthy families, while Gillian Campbell is the key contact in Aberdeen. Also in the core team are Christopher McGill, Alexis Graham and Glasgow office head Eleanor Kerr.

Practice head(s):

Malcolm Rust

Other key lawyers:

Gillian Campbell; Eleanor Kerr; Alexis Graham; Christopher McGill

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP assists high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs and business owners with a wide range of private wealth and tax matters. With particular expertise in estate planning vehicles, including family investment companies, the team also advises on succession planning and cross-border issues. Colin McKenzie leads the team, which includes Fiona Clarke, dual accredited private tax and trusts law specialist Claire Macpherson and associate Amanda Armstrong. In 2022, the firm strengthened its trust law capabilities with the arrival of Euan Fleming from Gilson Gray.

Practice head(s):

Colin McKenzie

Other key lawyers:

Euan Fleming; Claire Macpherson; Fiona Clarke; Amanda Armstrong


‘A solid team with a good depth of personal tax and significant experience in trusts.’

‘Clients will value the overall technical competence combined with the personable nature of the team.’

‘Experts in their field and able to apply their knowledge to clients’ circumstances to give practical, commercial advice. I have also seen examples where they have worked with overseas affiliates to give non-UK tax advice to ensure the client has one point of contact without having to deal with lots of different advisors. As a full-service law firm, they are able to draw on other areas of the business when implementing planning.’

‘I find Colin McKenzie easy to work with, and we are able to work together to give the best overall advice to the client in a seamless way.’

‘Deep knowledge of this area of Scots law and a strong teamwork approach.’ 

‘Amanda Armstrong and the rest of the team have carried out a lot of work on my mother and aunt’s estates in the past four years and they have been diligent, helpful and proactive throughout.’

‘Claire Macpherson: Available, responsive and knowledgeable.’

‘Fiona Clarke has not only an abundance of technical expertise but also an excellent manner when it comes to client engagement.’

Key clients

CALA Homes

Champion Technologies Limited

Esson Properties Limited


Malcolm Allan Housebuilders

Nor-Sea Foods Limited

Prosource.IT (UK) Ltd.

Stewart Milne Group

Visitor Centres Limited (trading as Landmark Forest Adventure Park)

Worley Services UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising high-net-worth spouses with assets of over £100m and a blended family on succession planning, including multiple family trusts and cross-border issues.
  • Advising a high-net-worth Monegasque domiciliary married to a Scottish domiciliary on inheritance tax planning.
  • Advising the parents of a child beneficiary of a high-value personal injury trust with a shortened life expectancy on the family’s affairs.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Gillespie Macandrew LLP's private wealth and tax offering is bolstered by the firm's wider private client capabilities, particularly in the land and rural business sectors. Under the joint leadership of Agnes Mallon and tax expert John McArthur (both are based in Edinburgh), the team has recently seen an uptick in instructions on trusts, including discretionary, bare and liferent trusts. Lianne Lodge (Edinburgh) handles personal injury trusts, while Eilidh Adams, based in Perth, advises rural clients on succession planning and asset transfers.

Practice head(s):

Agnes Mallon; John McArthur

Other key lawyers:

Lianne Lodge; Eilidh Adams


‘I have found Gillespie Macandrew helpful and efficient. I received good advice on a complicated winding up of a trust fund, which was achieved in reasonable time.’

‘All have been courteous and efficient, helpful in finding solutions to difficult issues alongside dealing well with routine matters.’

‘Gillespie Macandrew is exceptional in its ability to provide us with tailored advice that is both proactive and in our best interest. The team’s deep expertise and knowledge along with its collaborative approach to working with us sets them apart from other firms in the industry.’


With a strong presence in Dundee, Lindsays handles taxation, executry and trust administration matters for high-net-worth individuals and estates as well as for agricultural and business clients. Head of practice Grant Johnson complements this offering with expertise in advising individuals and families on wills, powers of attorney and guardianships. Other key individuals include Caroline Fraser, who handles contentious and cross-border estates, and Sandy Lamb, who has significant experience on advising executors and beneficiaries in the administration of executry estates.

Practice head(s):

Grant Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Fraser; Sandy Lamb

Work highlights

Murray Beith Murray LLP

Private client boutique Murray Beith Murray LLP is regularly instructed by wealthy individuals domiciled in Scotland and abroad to assist with a wide range of trusts and estates, personal tax and executry matters. Asset protection, succession planning and taxation issues are key areas of focus for the group, which is overseen by Peter Shand. The highly rated Ruthven Gemmell is best known for his cross-border work for high-net-worth individuals, while Andrew Paterson's practice covers will drafting, estates administration and powers of attorney matters. Sophie Napier and Fraser Scott are other core members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Peter Shand

Other key lawyers:

Fraser Scott; Ruthven Gemmell; Andrew Paterson; Adam Swayne; Sophie Napier


‘Any experience I’ve had with Murray Beith Murray has been highly professional, and I’ve found them excellent partners to work with in private client affairs.’

‘Fraser Scott is the partner I have had the closest association with. He is knowledgeable, diligent and also approachable. He has a great manner and it helps that clients can respect him but are not intimidated and therefore find it easier to open up. I’ve used him for my own personal affairs as I trust him implicitly.’

‘The team at Murray Beith Murray offers a unique service that blends expert advice delivered in a friendly manner with a personal touch unrivalled by other firms. They are always available for advice and have a diverse blend of skills; this makes them out of the ordinary.’

‘Technical expertise, experience, standing in the market. Prompt attention to matters. Andrew Paterson is a standout partner in the firm and in the market.’

‘I thoroughly appreciated Andrew Paterson’s professionalism and support in dealing with the problems another firm had created with a family trust. He gave clear, detailed advice, ensured that the trust assets were safe and promptly took all necessary steps.’

‘Ruthven Gemmell has been invaluable in guiding me through all aspects of legal and financial life. On a day-to-day basis, I also have nothing but praise for Adam Swayne.’

‘Experienced and client-focused practitioners.’

‘Peter Shand is very user-friendly, knowledgeable and instils confidence.’

Work highlights

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP has a comprehensive private client and private wealth offering covering tax, investment and asset protection matters. Reflecting the team's strength, practice head Ian Macdonald, based in Glasgow, routinely advises families and family businesses on tax and estate planning, and Roddy Harrison handles capital gains tax work and inheritance tax planning. The firm's Inverness office is led by Rod MacLean, who regularly assists rural businesses and other agriculture sector clients with succession planning matters; he is supported by Magnus Mackay.

Practice head(s):

Ian Macdonald

Other key lawyers:

Rod MacLean; Magnus Mackay; Roddy Harrison


‘I have been extremely impressed with the firm’s service ethos, which is exceptional.’

‘Over the years, the firm has gradually built up a team of leaders, who are hugely respected in the local area.’

‘There is a genuine depth of expertise and talent in a wide number of areas. The planning and commercial expertise available within the firm is invaluable.’

Work highlights

Aberdein Considine

Aberdein Considine expanded its roster of high-net-worth clients following its merger with Russel & Aitken in May 2022. Ryan Fox splits his time between the firm's Aberdeen and Stonehaven offices and is noted for his expertise in tax planning and estate administration. In Glasgow, Aileen Entwistle has an emphasis on will drafting and powers of attorney, while James MacKinnon in Edinburgh handles succession planning and trusts. Other key individuals include Anthony Quin, who handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious private client work from Stirling.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Quin; Ryan Fox; James MacKinnon; Aileen Entwistle


‘Ryan Fox leads a good team.’

‘Ryan Fox epitomises what any new client should look for. He exudes & shows a genuine interest in his clients’ lives before offering his professional advice, which we both felt absolutely essential before the preparation of our wills could go ahead. He pointed out many pitfalls, which we had overlooked, for us to consider & digest before completion. He gave us a personal, professional overview of our individual situations, which made us happy with the end result. He has a very easy manner, which only adds to his charm.’

‘Our lawyer was Aileen Entwistle, and from day one she came across as being very friendly and warm but at the same time extremely competent at her job. Everything was explained in detail to us step by step, and any questions and concerns were answered with knowledge and reassurance. Our business was concluded very much to our satisfaction, and both Aileen and the team helped to make it a very positive and seamless experience.’

‘James MacKinnon is the partner involved in my work and I found him to be very empathetic. He listened to what I had to say and advised me appropriately in language I could understand. He was good at explaining various scenarios and helped to put my mind at ease.’

‘James MacKinnon was recommended to me by other solicitors as someone who is good to work with backed up with an excellent knowledge of his area of expertise and able to coordinate my other legal requirements. He did not let me down.’

‘Ryan Fox heads up the team and he very much leads by example. He has a great depth of knowledge in estates, wills and tax planning and is very capable and keeps on top of matters and ensures that any jobs are delivered in a timely manner. He is very much at the top of his game. He is adequately backed up by a team that follows his ethos. There are other private client partners across various branches: Anthony Quin at their Stirling office meets any challenges head-on and gets a resolution where required.’

‘A team with a great depth of knowledge from simple estate administration to complicated trust matters. Every client receives a high level of friendly, professional service at what can be a difficult time. The department works closely with independent financial advisers to ensure best advice is given to clients in relation to tax liabilities. The team is able to obtain the expertise of other departments within Aberdein Considine.’

‘Ryan Fox takes the time to get to know clients and provides advice tailored to individual needs. He ensures that the legalities are explained and understood. Ryan’s range of knowledge is impressive and he is highly competent. I have found Ryan to be approachable, and he responds to queries promptly. Ryan is an asset to Aberdein Considine, and I would happily recommend him to friends and family.’

Work highlights

Balfour+Manson LLP

Shona Brown leads Balfour+Manson LLP's private client team. The practice has particular strength in trusts-related work with a specialism in the formation, management and taxation of various trusts, including charitable and personal injury trusts. Incapacity law, executries and personal tax planning are other key areas of focus for the team, and Graeme Thomson in particular. Also in the core team is senior associate Margaret Ross. Karen Phillips (estates and trusts planning and administration) left the team in 2022 and is now at Blackadders LLP.

Practice head(s):

Shona Brown

Other key lawyers:

Graeme Thomson; Margaret Ross


‘Professionalism! No matter what my question is, they always have the answer. When I asked for advice, they were more than happy to take on the issues and resolve them promptly.’

‘Shona Brown is my point of contact for all queries. Prompt and professional with every correspondence. If I am ever unsure about anything, she is always on hand to give solid advice.’

‘What makes Balfour+Manson LLP extraordinary starts from the very warm welcome upon reception and the entire firm’s heartfelt commitment to outstanding client focus and most genuine care about fulfilling not simply legal requirements with efficient professionalism, but also importantly to ensure their clients’ best welfare and wellbeing.’

Work highlights

Blackadders LLP

With a strong presence in the north of Scotland, the private client practice at Blackadders LLP acts for a wide range of clients, including individuals, trustees, executors and businesses. The group handles the full range of tax, trusts and executries issues and has a particularly strong personal wealth offering. Laura McDowall and Gillian Brown jointly head the practice, which also includes Johnston Clark and Dale Ross. The team strengthened its estates and trusts planning and administration capabilities with the arrival of Karen Phillips from Balfour+Manson LLP in 2022.

Practice head(s):

Laura McDowall; Gillian Brown

Other key lawyers:

Dale Ross; Karen Phillips; Johnston Clark

Key clients

South Lanarkshire Council

The Salvation Army

The Great Scottish Tapestry

The V&A of Dundee

Guildry Incorporation of Dundee

The City of Dundee Burgesses

Balnacraig School

Glasgow City Council

Dundee City Council

The Royal High School Club Trust

Royal High School Athletic Ground Trust

Dundee Disabled Children’s Association

Edradour Housing Association

Perth Forces Charitable Trust

The Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee General Charity Fund

Walter Craig Charitable Trust

William S Phillips Fund

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP handles the full range of private client issues with particular emphasis on cross-border taxation matters, complex executries and high-value trusts. Pamela Niven heads the team from Glasgow. Also in the core team is Jacqueline Leslie, an accredited trust specialist, and Julie Doncaster, who has considerable experience advising farmers and rural business owners. The firm also has a strong presence in Shetland; its Lerwick office is led by Leigh Beirne, who was promoted to partner in 2022. Kathleen Martin is noted for her estate planning expertise.

Practice head(s):

Pamela Niven

Other key lawyers:

Leigh Beirne; Jacqueline Leslie; Julie Doncaster; Kathleen Martin


‘Harper Macleod is a commercial practice with a very personal dimension.’

‘I have found all of the solicitors that I have been in touch with to be helpful, approachable and friendly. Their feedback and advice is invariably practical, commercial and a solution-based legal response, providing a culture of excellence.’

‘A successful blend of friendliness combined with professionalism. They are always willing to listen in order to help build relationships.’

‘A high level of personal service and efficiency.’

‘What really stands out about the Harper Macleod team is the depth in their knowledge and expertise. They have experienced practitioners in most areas, including the ones where regulation is fast evolving, such as ESG.’

‘The partners and associates at Harper Macleod are extremely easy to deal with. I found them to be experts in their fields and to be very accessible. Their collaborative approach is refreshing.’

Work highlights

Morton Fraser MacRoberts

Morton Fraser MacRoberts' private client practice acts for Scottish and international high-net-worth individuals and families, including landed estate owners and entrepreneurs. The team has particular strength in complex tax and succession planning as well as in the use of agricultural property reliefs in inheritance tax planning. Carryl Beveridge oversees the team. Sue Hunter is noted for her expertise in wealth management, while Catriona MacPhail routinely takes on asset protection and succession planning matters. Jack Kerr, another key member of the team, is recommended for his estate administration capabilities. Carole McAlpine-Scott and James Inglis joined the team through the merger between Morton Fraser and MacRoberts LLP in late 2023.

Practice head(s):

Carryl Beveridge

Other key lawyers:

Catriona MacPhail; Sue Hunter; Jack Kerr; Carole McAlpine-Scott; James Inglis


‘The Morton Fraser team took time to listen to our needs, responded thoroughly to our questions and made us feel that they fully understood our needs, and as clients, we were important to them.’

‘Jack Kerr is a young partner, who has a fine ability to explain even complex issues in a clear and concise way. His knowledge is first class and his manner is assured. He gives a high level of service and he is available when matters require immediate action.’

‘Jack Kerr is an exceptionally effective lawyer, who is able to provide a good deal of strategic and practical advice on estate planning and administration. He manages an impressive balance of human sensitivity with financial and technical insight. Jack has remained involved and always fully briefed and responsive in periodic update meetings.’

Work highlights

Stronachs LLP

With a strong presence in Aberdeen and Inverness, Stronachs LLP routinely assists wealthy individuals, particularly business owners and farmers, with complex capital tax issues and the establishment of family investment companies. Under the leadership of Jaclyn Russell, who has particular expertise in advising landed estate owners on succession planning, the team also advises on the formation and administration of charitable entities. Senior associate Karen Oliver is noted for her expertise in high-value trusts, including personal injury and charitable trusts.

Practice head(s):

Jaclyn Russell

Other key lawyers:

Karen Oliver


‘The Stronachs team provides a friendly, reliable service. They are well informed and act in a timely manner. Their work is well documented.’

‘Karen Oliver worked professionally and kept me informed of the progress. Other partners were available as and when required to witness and authorise documents.’

‘Stronachs LLP is a people business. They put clients first and can be trusted to provide a good service. Key attributes are: trusted adviser status, professional in all that they do and reliable.’

‘I referred a client to Karen Oliver to set up a new family trust. Karen communicated well and kept me updated from her side which made the process run smoothly. I have complete trust in her and Stronachs.’

‘Stronachs LLP has always provided first-class service when we have required legal advice.’

Work highlights

  • Provided estate planning advice to three generations of an ultra-high-net-worth business-owning family. This included advice on business succession and the maximisation of available inheritance tax reliefs.
  • Advised a local entrepreneur on his estate planning arrangements, balancing the needs of his family with his overall philanthropic aims; assisted him with the creation of a new charity to support various local projects; and provided advice on distributions from an existing family trust.
  • Dealt with the administration of a contentious and high-value estate, involving a fully discretionary will with accompanying letter of wishes. This involved working with the executors and the family to achieve the most tax-efficient means of distributing the estate, while still fulfilling the deceased’s overall aims. The team achieved a saving of £800,000 in inheritance tax as a result.