Personal tax, trusts and executries in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP acts for a wide roster of trusts, wealthy families and individuals, with particular strength in the establishment of family investment companies and family limited partnerships and expertise in all areas of estate planning, succession planning and in structuring trusts in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Practice head Mark Stewart, a dual-qualified accredited trust specialist, sits as Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s specialist accreditation panel for trust law. The 'personable and down to earth' Alan Barr is a leading tax specialist; he previously gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament on its enhanced tax powers in relation to land and building transactions tax.

Practice head(s):

Mark Stewart

Other key lawyers:

Alan Barr


‘The team’s technical knowledge and practical advice is highly valued.’

‘Alan Barr’s advice is highly valued as his decisiveness when giving that advice.’

‘Mark Stewart’s technical knowledge is the best of any private client solicitor in Aberdeen. His ability to take a step back and think about bespoke solutions for clients is brilliant.’

‘Alan Eccles is technically excellent and extremely efficient when producing any legal documents for our clients. He also simplifies complex issues in an eloquent manner.’

‘Helen Kidd is extremely proficient and very approachable, takes great care when discussing client issues and family dynamics and always has the time to discuss separate matters when needed.’

Key clients

Golden Charter Trust

Work highlights

  • Ongoing advice to Golden Charter Trust on the broadest range of trust related matters.
  • Advised wealthy family seeking to structure the proceeds of sale of business and be philanthropic.
  • Advised the widow of a successful entrepreneur who died without a will.
  • Advising a wealthy businessman in relation to his personal estate planning.

Turcan Connell

Turcan Connell’s 'professional and reliable' team covers the full range of matters for high net worth individuals, trusts, beneficiaries and charities, with a particular emphasis on advising business owners and land owners on tax and succession issues, and notable strength securing business property relief and agricultural property relief from HM Revenue & Customs. The team also regularly advises clients on multi-jurisdictional matters, such as tax structuring, and helps offshore trusts adapt to the legislation introduced in 2018 altering the tax obligations of UK beneficiaries. Firm chairman Alexander Garden has 'unrivalled knowledge' of private client taxation and sits as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

Practice head(s):

Simon Mackintosh; Ian Clark; Alexander Garden; Kenny MacDonald

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Garden; Graeme Gass; Peter Littlefield; Tom Duguid


‘Substantial expertise in relation to personal taxation, and high value trusts and executries.’

‘Dedicated to their specialist sector and real experts in their chosen field.’

‘Turcan Connell are very strong in advising on charity law, charity taxation and compliance. Some of projects involve collaboration with partners across the UK and Turcan Connell are very well placed to advise on both Scottish and English law.’

‘Peter Littlefield is technically very good and his client handling skills are absolutely first class.’

‘Tom Duguid’s command of a wide range of legal sectors is extremely impressive – the quality of his work and advice is of a very high standard.’

Work highlights

  • Provided tax and succession advice to several new and longstanding non-domiciled clients with net worth ranging from £12m to £450m.
  • Provided tax and succession advice to several new and longstanding high net worth clients.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern acts for trustees, executors and beneficiaries, predominantly in matters where the firm is instructed to provide advice on the structure of trusts, revise trusts and set up new trusts to manage the inheritance of assets. The team also handles succession planning for family businesses and utilises family investment companies to transfer assets in a tax-efficient manner. Dual qualified Carole Tomlinson is the lead partner for a number of large landed estates and has a particular interest in advising family businesses. Director of tax services Martin Campbell  provides advice on capital gains and inheritance tax to land owners and high-net-worth clients.

Practice head(s):

Carole Tomlinson

Other key lawyers:

Martin Campbell; Colin Henderson; David Campbell


“David Campbell is personable, extremely responsive and accessible. He is very experienced and always provides excellent practical advice.” 

“The firm takes ownership and responsibility for each and every client and, where necessary, bringing in colleagues from specialist areas of their business to provide a seamless service.” 

“Any potential problems or anxieties are dealt with speedily and competently bringing to each task a high level of professional knowledge, skill and experience at each stage.”

Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Gillespie Macandrew LLP 's 'highly personable team' team acts for trustees, executors and beneficiaries, with a focus on advising clients on business property relief, agricultural property relief and estate planning. Outside of these core areas the firm has a commitment to the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act, and arising issues concerning guardianship and powers of attorney: Elspeth Paget is financial guardian for several clients and has particular expertise on powers of attorney and guardianships in the context of estate planning. Eilidh G Adams is a specialist on the UK France Double Tax Treaty on Inheritance Tax and the impact of the EU Succession Regulation.

Practice head(s):

Elspeth Paget; John McArthur; Lianne Lodge

Other key lawyers:

Eilidh Adams


“Highly personable team of experts who genuinely wish the best possible outcome for their clients.” 

“A holistic approach, based on a desire to build long-term client relationships.” 

“Elspeth Paget is a pleasure to deal with as she is very organised, clear at explaining points and options, and always follows up on actions, promises, and commitments.” 

“John McArthur is shrewd, professional, attentive and a good collaborator with other professionals.”

Murray Beith Murray

Murray Beith Murray handles a range of matters for trustees, including the winding-up of trusts, establishing charitable trusts and advising on restructuring options and the tax implications of asset transfers. The team, which is led by Peter Shand, also represents beneficiaries in the UK who hold assets offshore and acts for executors in multi-jurisdictional and domestic estate administrations. Dual qualified Ruthven Gemmell has expert knowledge of tax and estate planning, and sits as a part-time judge in the Finance and Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. The 'knowledgeable' and 'efficientAndrew Paterson heads the executry group, while associate Caroline Pringle acts for several large trusts and advises clients on wills, powers of attorney and guardianships.

Practice head(s):

Peter Shand


“Excellent attention to detail.  Excellent clarity on costs likely to be incurred, with clear updates for any potential variation. Rapid response to queries, again, with excellent clarity.”

“Andrew Paterson is knowledgeable, helpful and prompt in his responses.” 

“Murray Beith Murray are quite different to other firms we have dealt with in the past who either take a long time to get back to you or alternatively you have to chase to even get a response. We felt that our business was wanted.”

“Carol McGovern is extremely helpful and diligent.”

Andrew Paterson is professional, helpful, very efficient and knowledgeable.”

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn receives a high volume of instructions from high net worth individuals, executors and beneficiaries, predominantly in relation to succession planning and applications for business tax relief and agricultural tax relief, often concerning assets held in foreign jurisdictions. The team’s expertise also lies in establishing new trusts and business partnerships, advising on and drawing up wills and providing tax compliance advice to clients who reside outside of the UK. Douglas Sinclair, who is a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, has a strong foothold in offshore tax matters and complex cases concerning business partnerships. Malcolm Rust leads the private client and charities teams.

Practice head(s):

Malcolm Rust

Other key lawyers:

Douglas Sinclair


‘Greig Honeyman is a consummate  professional and I would commend him to anyone who values expert advice, absolute honesty and integrity’.

Key clients

The Clydesdale Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising high net worth farmer and landowner in respect of their succession planning strategy.
  • Advising beneficiary of the estate of a prominent Glasgow businessman.
  • Providing advice to executors of a prominent Scottish auction house director, including advice in respect of unique assets.
  • Providing advice to The Clydesdale Bank in respect of various private client issues, including review of trust arrangements.

Balfour+Manson LLP

Balfour+Manson LLP’s team acts for trustees, beneficiaries and high net worth individuals, predominantly on the management and taxation of trusts, with a view to mitigate inheritance tax, and the drafting or rectification of wills. In addition the team, assisted by two welfare managers, regularly advises on incapacity, powers of attorney and guardianship, and in a recent case determined that a guardianship order needed revising. Practice head Shona Brown has a particular interest in working with elderly and vulnerable clients and those who lack capacity, while senior associate and qualified accountant Margaret Ross advises on tax, cashflow forecasting and asset allocation.

Practice head(s):

Shona Brown

Other key lawyers:

Margaret Ross


Dentons, which during 2018 recruited BTO Solicitors LLP's private client head Roddy Harrison, primarily acts for executors in estate administrations and for trustees in the winding up of trusts and restructuring matters, where tax expenses are a central consideration. The team has strength advising on all forms of tax and tax mitigation options, including inheritance tax, entrepreneurs’ relief and business property relief, as well as the impact of the legislative changes to inheritance tax in 2017 that increased the threshold for tax-free assets. Eleanor Kerr advises a number of high net worth clients on succession, asset protection and the tax-efficient structuring of wills.

Practice head(s):

Eleanor Kerr

Other key lawyers:

Roddy Harrison


“A high calibre team, with particular strength in estate planning.” 

“The team is very professional and specialist in their field.” 

“Eleanor Kerr and Alexis Graham stand out, not only for their technical knowledge and expertise but also for the manner in which this is put across at client meetings.” 

“Eleanor Kerr is hugely experienced and explains complex matters to clients in a very easy manner which relaxes clients and helps them to understand their options and come to logical conclusions.”

Work highlights

  • Appointed by executors in £29m complex estate administration.
  • Advised different generations of the same family with combined wealth of £29m on complex estate planning including the creation of family investment companies.
  • Continuing advice to Scottish businessman in respect of family trusts valued at £20m.
  • Complex estate planning provided to clients with net wealth in region of £37million.
  • Appointed by executors in £10m complex estate administration.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP's team acts for trustees, executors and high net worth individuals in the administration of estates, the establishment and winding-up of trusts, including charitable trusts, and asset protection mandates, such as minimizing capital gains tax and obtaining business property relief to mitigate inheritance tax. The 'extremely approachable and empathetic' Pamela Niven heads up the practice, while, the 'utterly professional' Jacqueline Leslie has significant experience drafting wills, assuming power of attorney for vulnerable clients and advising on the legal and tax aspects of trust creation. Julie Doncaster handles all areas of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act and has a niche in establishing personal injury trusts and will trusts for disabled beneficiaries.

Practice head(s):

Pamela Niven

Other key lawyers:

Jacqueline Leslie; Julie Doncaster


‘The firm’s key strength is that each member of their team delivers a very personal service to clients and professional connections alike. They achieve this by building personal relationships and really gaining a thorough understanding of the needs and concerns of their clients and professional connections.’

‘The team’s ability to deal with clients face-to-face in a friendly yet professional fashion successfully strikes a tricky balance. Their willingness to get involved in complex issues and their level of technical accuracy always impresses me.’

‘The team possess first class knowledge and practical experience combined with an approachable style that is second to none.’ 

‘Pamela Niven has a wealth of knowledge but is also able to see the bigger picture and identify practical solutions to problems. She is extremely approachable and empathetic in dealing with sensitive areas of the law.’

‘Leigh Beirne and Julie Doncaster are both exceptional lawyers – they work together closely and share an impressive level of knowledge in executry, powers of attorney, wills, estates and trusts.’


The 'commercial but compassionate' practice at Lindsays acts for executors in the administration and winding-up of estates in matters that involve elements such as assets held in multiple jurisdictions, liferent trusts and deaths intestate, and has further expertise handling succession planning to mitigate inheritance tax or capital gains tax. The team also has specialist expertise handling contentious matters relating to the validity and interpretations of wills, and regularly acts for vulnerable clients in matters pertaining to the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act, either in a guardianship capacity or through being appointed Power of Attorney. Grant Johnson leads the private client team while 'legal encyclopaedia' Sandy Lamb has considerable experience establishing, managing and winding up trusts.

Practice head(s):

Grant Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Sandy Lamb


“The team is approachable, friendly and measured. They are a pleasure to work with.” 

“The team have a wide range of skills and backgrounds. They offer both youth and experience and pride themselves on client relationships.” 

“The individuals I work with are excellent at responding to queries and making themselves available for phone calls and meetings etc.”  

“Lynsey Kerr is approachable, knowledgeable and someone who has the client’s best interests at heart.”

“Sandy Lamb is like a legal encyclopaedia, able to seamlessly switch gears to open up previously hidden chapters.”

MacRoberts LLP

The personal tax team at MacRoberts LLP works alongside the firm’s corporate team to advise executors on estate administrations and negotiate with HMRC in respect of claims for agricultural property relief and business property relief, while also representing trustees in a wide range of areas including updating trust deeds and transferring assets into charitable trusts. The practice also prepares a high volume of tax-efficient wills, predominantly for a wills writing company in Scotland, and manages guardianship orders, powers of attorney and personal injury trusts. The team is headed up by 'exceptional legal mind' Carole McAlpine-Scott.

Practice head(s):

Carole McAlpine-Scott

Other key lawyers:

Brian Jackson


“The team is very approachable and with a wealth of experience in their field. They are approachable and are quick to establish good working relationships with their clients.” 

“Exceptional technical knowledge and client service. – undoubtedly and easily one of the best firms I work with.”

“The firm goes the extra mile to ensure quality outcomes for clients.”

“James Inglis provides clear and concise advice and responds quickly to queries.”

“Carole McAlpine-Scott has an exceptional legal mind and a very endearing personality. She makes the client feel very comfortable and in very safe and trustworthy hands.”

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser significantly bolstered its team during 2018 with the hires of Gregor Mitchell  and consultants Douglas Hunter and Keith Oliver from Addleshaw Goddard. The team carries out a high volume of work for trustees, including advising on the establishment and variation of trusts and charitable trusts, handling the administration of trusts with cross-border capital, and providing tax and legal advice on inherited assets. On the executors’ side, the firm are known for resolving conflicts of interest that emerge between executors and trustees and advising on inheritance tax liability relating to estate administrations. Chartered financial adviser Sue Hunter heads up the private client division and frequently advises high net worth individuals on their tax and succession needs.

Practice head(s):

Sue Hunter

Other key lawyers:

Gregor Mitchell

Work highlights

  • Advised on variation of charitable trust where advances in medical research mean that the funds could be used more effectively if merged with a larger charity.
  • Dealing with complex lifetime tax planning to maximise benefit to beneficiaries and minimise client’s income tax liability.
  • Handled executry administration including significant private company share planning.
  • Acting for client regarding onshore and offshore tax planning involving farmland and partnership interests.
  • Represented executors in multimillion-pound estate with substantial family farming company.

Blackadders LLP

Blackadders LLP has particular expertise advising clients on inheritance tax and lifetime planning, including setting up liferent trusts, managing assets held in multiple jurisdictions and liaising with HMRC about negligently valued property. More broadly the team represents executors and beneficiaries in contentious disputes with co-executors or sole executors, while also administering the financial and property affairs of incapable clients in the capacity of financial attorney.

Practice head(s):

Johnston Clark

Other key lawyers:

Laura McDowall


“The knowledge and accessibility of Johnston Clark, Scott Williamson and Douglas Sneddon is of great value.”

Key clients

Edinburgh City Council

The Salvation Army

The Great Scottish Tapestry

V&A Dundee

Guildry Incorporation of Dundee

The City of Dundee Burgesses

Balnacraig School

Glasgow City Council

Dundee City Council

Walter Craig Charitable Trust and W S Philips’ Trust

Dovetail Enterprises

Office of the Public Guardian

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP’s team is best known for advising executors, often with significant business interests, on succession planning and tax mitigation, while it also has expertise managing contentious issues such as legal rights claims and the misappropriation of funds by beneficiaries. The team are also relied upon to set up and administer private and charitable trusts to carry forward assets in a tax-efficient manner. Ross Brown is not only skilled in the drafting and administration of powers of attorney; he also has experience dealing with executors of deceased individuals with heritable property in multiple jurisdictions. Former private client head Roddy Harrison left to join Dentons in mid-2018.

Practice head(s):

Ross Brown; Lynne Melville


“The team has a commitment to personal service with partners engaging with clients and not delegating work to junior staff, but at the same time keeping fee levels at a reasonable level.”

“Ross Brown is quick to understand clients’ situations and pitches his advice and approach to each case in a sensible, sensitive and appropriate way.”

Work highlights

  • Advising on the tax matters associated with a landed estate worth in excess of £5m upon which both shooting and agricultural activities take place.
  • Providing tax and succession planning advice to a family with an estate valuing circa £8m including a percentage holding in a successful restaurant business, assets in Europe and associated trusts.
  • Handling an executory worth £500,000 with several complex tax elements.
  • Advising on the administration of a complex £1.5m estate with an extensive property portfolio and numerous business interests.
  • Advising the executors of an estate to maximise the exemptions available to include the preparation of a deed of variation, the applicability of the reduced rate of IHT and the submission of a loss of sale of shares claim.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP’s team stands out for its instructions by high net worth individuals seeking advice on the running of their business, whether that be succession planning or HMRC reporting obligations. In addition to these steady streams of work, the firm also represents executries in complex estate administrations, advises international clients on UK capital gains tax, and assists charities in a range of areas. Colin McKenzie heads up the firm's private capital division, while 'tenacious problem solver' Claire Macpherson has notable expertise managing the international side of cross-border estates and inheritance tax.

Practice head(s):

Colin McKenzie

Other key lawyers:

Claire Macpherson


“Expert knowledge of complex executry matters and private client work delivered to an incredibly high standard by a team who put their clients at the heart of everything they do.”

“Technically excellent and passionate in their field.” 

“Claire Macpherson is meticulous and has a fantastic attention to detail.”

“Coming from a corporate background, Colin McKenzie is amongst a rare breed of private client solicitors who combine a private client manner in dealing with often sensitive individual and family matters with a corporate attitude in terms of speed of delivery.”

“Senior associate Fiona Clarke is exceptional, very discreet, friendly and has the ability to communicate clearly and eloquently – a real asset to the team.”

“A professional firm, with very good quality operators who have integrity and are approachable and experienced.”

Work highlights

  • Acted for a leading Swiss private banking group, in relation to a review of its banking terms and conditions and their compliance with Scots law.
  • Advised a senior manager at a leading UK mutual life and investments company in relation to a third party trust’s powers to contract with the company relating to a contract regarding funeral plans.
  • Advising a corporate and trust services provider on various Scottish succession matters, including ownership of the company, HMRC reporting obligations and searches at the Scottish Courts to locate a copy of the deceased’s will and her beneficiaries.
  • Advised two high net worth investors in relation to a private investment in a high growth company.
  • Appointed as lawyers for a very high value executry; one of the largest and most complicated ongoing in Scotland.

Stronachs LLP

Stronachs LLP’s practice receives instructions from high net worth clients to produce interpretations of wills, assist with the creation of trusts, and devise complex strategies to minimise inheritance tax. The team also has niche expertise in crofting law, and regularly acts in the formation and administration of charitable bodies. Private client practice head Jaclyn Russell is a 'safe pair of hands', while 'patient and efficient' senior associate Magnus Mackay specialises in all areas of succession planning.

Practice head(s):

Jaclyn Russell

Other key lawyers:

Magnus Mackay


“Stronachs has a good breadth of knowledge across all types of private client work, from agriculture to high net worth individuals.”

“Everyone I dealt with at Stronachs knew their stuff and dealt with queries quickly and efficiently.” 

“Jaclyn Russell is a very safe pair of hands with an excellent manner in dealing with clients.” 

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP has significantly expanded its offering of late, taking on a seven-strong team led by Rod MacLean, who focuses on wills, powers of attorney and trusts, as well as having particular experience of dealing with succession to interests in crofts. The hugely experienced Ian Macdonald, who leads the private client team, represents Scotland on the Society of Trust and Estates Practitioners' worldwide council, while other key members of the team include chartered tax adviser Susan Hoyle and chartered financial planner Graham Murray.

Practice head(s):

Ian Macdonald

Work highlights

  • A high value executry including substantial property, business, hydro scheme and investment interests.
  • Reorganisation of family trusts and establishment of new trusts.
  • Acting in a substantial intestate cross-border estate.
  • Acting in a high value estate with no liquid assets to pay the Inheritance Tax, and a creative solution involving loans was found.
  • Family business succession planning for a large farming business.