Contentious trusts and probate in South East

Barlow Robbins LLP

'Hard working, flexible and efficient', the contentious trusts and probate practice at Barlow Robbins LLP 'works extremely well under pressure'. The team has successfully built longstanding relationships with private individuals, often assisting the same family across several generations. Not-for-profit entities also feature on the firm's client roster. Clients benefit from the firm's ability to deliver cross-practice support, with contentious trusts and probate specialists working with the private wealth and tax team to advise on the most tax-efficient strategies for resolving probate disputes and succession issues arising from such disputes. Scott Taylor is the practice head. Another name to note is senior associate Lisa Green, who is experienced in contested Court of Protection matters. Jeremy Duffy departed for Mundays LLP  in October 2018.

Practice head(s):

Scott Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Lisa Green

Testimonials

There is a clear focus on client needs; everything is done to ensure the client understands the procedure and the relevant laws and the client is given every opportunity to voice their opinions on the process’.

The firm is organised and meticulous when instructing counsel‘.

Real specialist knowledge in the field combined with extensive experience; a genuine match for private client firms in the City but with a more approachable atmosphere‘.

Scott Taylor and Senior Associate Lisa Green provide a city quality service at out-of-city prices. They are a really an excellent choice in the Guildford area‘.

They are very impressive in their ability to marshal the relevant issues and evidence in a case efficiently and they always seek to settle cases in an efficient, common sense and commercial fashion‘.

I have found all practitioners to be highly competent across all levels, from partner down to newly qualified solicitors‘.

They stand out from other instructing solicitors for their mastery of litigation in this field; they regularly handle complex and legally difficult matters with ease and provide practical, strategic advice‘.

The service offered is on a par with that offered by many London firms. The team is technically strong and a very attentive to the needs of its clients‘.

David Foster, as head of litigation, is an excellent leader. He is a low-stress operator, able to calm a nervous client and remind them of the bigger picture‘.

Scott Taylor is exceptional; his knowledge of the law is unparalleled and he has an excellent strategic view. He is practical, tireless and driven by the best interests of the client‘.

Lisa Green is a conscientious lawyer; she is approachable and always ensures that I have everything I need for a piece of work or hearing. Lisa is proactive in terms of case progression and deals effectively with the lay client‘.

Scott Taylor is highly experienced and great on detail. He has a real command of the facts and understands the specifics of a client’s case. He remains calm under stress‘.

Scott Taylor is highly experienced and has sound judgment. He is also very personable and easy to work with‘.

Senior associate Lisa Green is thorough, sensible and effective. She inspires confidence in her clients‘.

Lisa Green is highly capable and has a good sense of overall strategy in a case. Scott Taylor has technical pedigree but also huge commercial sense‘.

Scott Taylor a first class solicitor who cares passionately about his clients and their cases and provides a stellar service‘.

Scott Taylor has a fantastic mind and is a go-to solicitor for work in this area. He has developed a wealth of experience which makes him a very impressive litigator. He is tactical, clever and has exceptional judgment. I have also been impressed by his outstanding level of client care‘.

Senior associate Lisa Green is highly competent in her field and gives wise advice; she is a shrewd negotiator‘.

Solicitor Oliver Black is bright and talented – he is one to watch‘.

Work highlights

  • The firm advised a court-appointed representative for minors and unborns on a will construction/rectification claim concerning an estate worth several million pounds.
  • The firm advised beneficiaries of a multimillion pound estate comprising of assets in multiple jurisdictions on successfully defending a claim for proprietary estoppel.
  • The firm advised on High Court litigation concerning the setting aside of complex lifetime transactions.
  • The firm advised on challenging the validity of a will on grounds of testamentary capacity and undue influence in respect of an estate worth in the region of £4.5 million.
  • The firm advised an executor on High Court proceedings pursuant to which declaratory relief has been sought in respect of the disputed ownership of assets worth more than £2 million.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a strong profile among high net worth individuals. It also handles contentious trusts and probate matters for several not-for-profit organisations; recent work included defending clients against a number of Inheritance Act claims, representing charities in trust disputes, and also acting in a rectification claim and a proprietary estoppel claim. Elsewhere, the group deals with matters involving offshore trust jurisdictions, such as Guernsey, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Duncan Elson heads up the team, which includes Samantha Ewing, who is recommended for complex will validity claims and multifaceted Inheritance Act claims.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Elson

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Ewing

Key clients

The Public Trustee of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Investment One Financial Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing a court appointed Guernsey trustee in respect of five Guernsey based occupational pension schemes suffering liquidity issues, ultimately tasked with carrying out a worldwide investigation into the conduct and management of the schemes by the Former Trustees.
  • Representing the corporate co-executor to the estate of an extremely wealthy Nigerian investment banker in proceedings brought against the estate by both the trustee of a Caymanian trust settled by the deceased and the occupier (and friend of the deceased) of a valuable London property held pursuant to that trust.
  • Representing the son of a highly successful farmer and property developer in a proprietary estoppel claim in respect of property valued in excess of £100m.
  • Representing the ex-wife and children of a successful entrepreneur as beneficiaries to his estate in matters relating to the sale of his company, realisation of his numerous business ventures and the construction of his will.
  • Representing the principal beneficiary of a trust containing a notable English Estate in ascertaining his interest under the trust and advising him on his management of the estate generally.

Cripps Pemberton Greenish

Cripps Pemberton Greenish , which was formed following a merger between Cripps LLP and Pemberton Greenish, has a specialist dispute resolution practice, which is led by Myles McIntosh. Contentious trusts and probate matters are a core part of the work undertaken by the team. McIntosh works with Russell Simpson and Phillip Youdan. All three of the partners in the group are full members of the Association of Contentious Trust & Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). Both UK-based and overseas high net-worth individuals feature on the firm's client list. High-value trust disputes and will and inheritance disputes are among the recent areas of growth. Associate Dino Sikkel is another key figure.

Practice head(s):

Myles McIntosh

Other key lawyers:

Phillip Youdan; Russell Simpson; Dino Sikkel

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP's contentious trusts and probate team is 'helpful, clear and professional', according to one client, and it garners praise from many others. It works closely with the firm's private client, tax and property teams to provide cross-practice expertise. The group, which is led by Sarah Foster, is best known for advising beneficiaries, executors, trustees and individuals left out of wills on challenges to will validity, trust disputes and Inheritance Act claims. Other areas of expertise include proprietary estoppel claims and Court of Protection matters. Senior associate Sally Goodger acts for both individuals and charities in a broad range of claims.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Foster

Other key lawyers:

Sally Goodger

Testimonials

The professionals at Freeths were calm and understanding. They did not rush me or make false promises but thoroughly explained the process to me, listened well, spoke confidently and left me feeling positive‘.

The team were really knowledgeable and approachable. When I didn’t quite understand the legal technicalities, they didn’t mind going repeating the explanation and articulating it in a way I could understand‘.

There is a depth of experience and expertise across the practice group‘.

Although not based in London, in some ways the firm provides a better service than could be expected from a City firm‘.

In complex cases, individuals are on hand across a range of areas so you get a  broader picture of options and strategies‘.

Freeths is a very well-established private client firm, particularly for the resolution of trusts and probate disputes‘.

Sally Goodger was fantastic. Despite the complexities of my situation, she remained calm and professional throughout. I could not have asked for a better person to deal with my case; she kept me informed at every step and never made assumptions or judged me‘.

Sally Goodger at Freeths was great to work with and helped us settle two contested estates‘.

Sarah Foster, Nigel Roots and Jane Maitland are stand-out partners; they have vast knowledge and experience acting for a range of clients and disputes in this area and are backed up by a fantastic team of associates‘.

We worked almost exclusively with Sally Goodger. The work was done efficiently and I was kept informed of progress throughout with clear explanations of all legal matters; the outcome was succseful‘.

Nigel Roots and Sarah foster both have their eye on the ball and are really good at explaining legal technicalities‘.

Sally Goodger was exceptional; not only was she approachable and knowledgeable, but also focused, direct and straightforward in explaining the state of things. She cut through all the noise and emotion and honed in on the core issues, but remained compassionate‘.

Sally Goodger is an excellent lawyer who provides clear and sensible advice and remains calm under pressure. Sarah Foster and Paul Brown are also fantastic‘.

Key clients

Denise Taulbut, Sharon Moran and Paul McKay (as executors of the estate of Pauline Wippell).

Work highlights

  • We acted for three executors in dispute with the fourth executor as to the validity of a letter of wishes and construction of a will.
  • We represented the mistress of a high profile business man in her claim for payment as a discretionary beneficiary of a trust established under his will, alternatively pursuant to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.
  • We acted for an executor of a will with a drafting error which was rectified by court order to avoid the residuary estate passing to the intestacy beneficiaries. Costs were recovered from the will drafters.
  • We act for the daughter of a deceased in respect of a dispute with her mother’s long term partner and obtaining possession of the mother’s house in light of unmeritorious claims by her mother’s partner.
  • Representing an executor of a will, in connection with proceedings issued against her and four other defendants alleging proprietary estoppel/invalidity of will.

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell assists clients with multijurisdictional tax issues, family businesses and governance matters. Asset protection and succession work also drive activity. In addition, the firm handles a steady flow of Inheritance Act claims, challenges to will validity, professional negligence claims and proprietary estoppel claims. Practice head Paula James specialises in complex trust and probate disputes, which usually have cross-border issues.

Practice head(s):

Paula James

B P Collins LLP

B P Collins LLP's team is praised by one client for being 'thorough, tenacious (but pragmatic) and always client-focused'. Team head Craig Williams focuses on contentious trusts work and inheritance disputes for high net-worth individuals. Its work includes Inheritance Act claims, will validity disputes and matters concerning the administration of trusts and estates. The group also has a niche specialism in litigation concerning genealogists' 'finders fees'. Matthew Brandis is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Craig Williams

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Brandis

Testimonials

I received timely and sympathetic legal advise at what was a very difficult time for myself and my family‘.

I worked with Craig Williams who assisted me in obtaining a better settlement than I would have gotten otherwise; his advice was always very accurate and his actions sensitive‘.

A sizable practice that has several areas of expertise; such diversity is valuable as skills and strategies from different spheres can be applied to contentious probate cases when needed‘.

BP Collins is the the go-to firm in the Thames Valley for contentious trusts and probate work. The team is particularly strong in relation to contested probate, and of note is its expertise in handling Inheritance Act disputes, usually acting for the estate‘.

The firm is well-tuned to the zeitgeist of Alternative Dispute Resolution and tempers its sound legal advice with a healthy dose of pragmatism‘.

A customer focused approach with honest and balanced advice‘.

They are extremely professional and very diligent in everything they do‘.

B P Collins took on our case without question despite the complexities of the situation having forced other lawyers to turn it down‘.

Craig Williams makes everything ‘tick’; he is a strong personality with an excellent grasp of law and impressive communication skills‘.

Craig Williams is very knowledgeable, easy to deal with and results-orientedMatthew Brandis is a strategic thinker with a solid legal knowledge in this area‘.

I have no hesitation in recommending both Craig Williams and Matthew Brandis; both are standouts among the competition. They are extremely sound lawyers who combine a thorough understanding of the relevant law with both commercial realism and tactical nous‘.

Associate Rajiv Malhotra is personable, caring, hardworking and honest‘.

‘Both Craig and Rajiv have excellent connections in the industry and when put together make an excellent team‘.

Craig Williams is excellent; you really get the sense that he cares about his clients and what is in their best interests‘.

Craig Williams and Matthew Brandis are leaders in their field; unlike some competitors, I always get a prompt response form them‘.

Matthew Brandis immediately grasped what was needed, which was incredibly reassuring‘.

Craig Williams is always thinking one step ahead‘.

Craig has extraordinary skills and achieved a successful outcome in an extremely contentious probate litigation case; I always felt that Craig and I were working on the same page‘.

Work highlights

  • Acting for clients in a dispute with their sister regarding their father’s estate (where they had been left his estate to the exclusion of their sister), followed by a dispute relating to their mother’s estate (which was left entirely to their sister).
  • Representing a client in an Inheritance Act claim against the estate of her late husband.
  • Acting for a client in an Inheritance Act claim against her late partner’s estate.
  • Advising a client following the death of his father, who left him only £5k in his will.
  • Represented clients in successfully defending a challenge to the validity of their late father’s will on grounds on capacity and undue influence.

Birketts LLP

Daden Hunt, Laurence Weeks and Paul Matthews jointly lead the contentious trusts and probate group at Birketts LLP, which experienced a recent surge of instructions involving adopted or illegitimate children and the application of the Human Rights Act. Trust corporates, charities and private clients are all regular clients of the practice, which is also capable of handling cross-jurisdictional mandates. Senior associate Marie Batchelor is highly recommended, having assisted with almost all of the firm's recent highlights.

Practice head(s):

Daden Hunt; Laurence Weeks; Paul Matthews

Other key lawyers:

Marie Batchelor

Testimonials

Senior associate Marie Batchleor was available whenever I needed her; she was highly efficient and explained matters clearly‘.

Birketts is a very professional and efficient firm and boasts many specialist departments‘.

Marie Batchelor was outstanding in dealing with my case‘.

Marie Bachelor is very professional and ‘on the ball’. She is an excellent negotiator and strategist‘.

Marie Batchelor has helped me make decisions that I did not have the confidence to make previously. In my very first conversation with her, I felt I was able to move forward‘.

Work highlights

  • Represented client as a defendant to a probate claim concerning complex issues, including fraud, and cross border assets.
  • Represented defendants to a claim concerning the entitlement of adopted children to a trust.

Brachers

Other than a steady flow a will validity disputes, Inheritance Act claims, applications to remove executors and claims against trustees, Brachers also handles a number of propriety estoppel cases in the context of farming families. The firm saw a recent increase in  undue influence claims brought by executors or beneficiaries. Deborah Cain, who leads the contentious trusts and estates team, boasts ten years of exclusive practice in this area.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Cain

Work highlights

  • Brachers successfully acted for Party A claiming reasonable financial provision from and estate valued at over £22 million.
  • Client A is one of a number of farming clients represented by our Contested Trusts and Estates Team advancing a proprietary estoppel claim in respect of farmland promised to the client by his Deceased parents. The case also includes a claim that the Deceased’s wills were invalid.
  • Acting for the adult children of one partner to a second marriage claiming the wills made were mutual and as such the testators were prevented from making a new will on the first death. The doctrine of mutual wills is a developing are of law and increasingly common in the case of second marriages.
  • Claim against the estate of a Deceased person to recover assets procured by the Deceased by the exercise of undue influence during her lifetime.
  • Defending a claim for breach of trust/fiduciary duty on behalf of trustees.

Gardner Leader LLP

Gardner Leader LLP's team 'combines friendliness with astuteness and a sensible approach to dispute resolution'. The group is sought out for advice on High Court and Court of Protection cases, with disputes involving capacity-related issues being a notable area of growth. Another hallmark of the team is its strong record of defending not-for-profit entities as beneficiaries of legacies or residual beneficiaries of estates. Practice head Alastair Goggins is 'exceptional in his honesty'.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Goggins

Testimonials

What makes the team different is the way it interacts with the client; no problem is too silly or remote and the lawyers work hard to find a balanced solution. They also have excellent communication skills in this regard‘.

From the point of view of a charity client, this is an extremely good firm to work with as it is able to address the particular needs of the sector‘.

Gardner Leader has a strong and efficient private client team; it has been involved in a number of high-profile and technically complex contentious probate and trust cases‘.

The team members combine technical legal ability with commercial common sense and they work hard to achieve the best possible outcomes for their clients‘.

This is a specialist team within a substantial firm which has broad expertise in numerous areas, from family to corporate law, which ensures that clients receive comprehensive advice on all aspects of their case‘.

The team is exceptionally honest and diligent in its work and remains unphased and calm in the face of ‘dirty tactics’ sometimes used by other firms‘.

The team listens to its clients and take their thoughts on board, but will still provide an honest and balanced opinion, explaining clearly and logically why they may have a different view as to the best course of action‘.

Alastair Goggins applies a reasoned approach to his cases; clients respond really well to him as he navigates them through complex issues and explains things carefully to them so they can make informed decisions on their case‘.

As someone from the charity sector, I am always grateful for how socially conscious the team are and how they are open to giving an initial steer to charity clients pro bono‘.

The stand-out member of the team is Alastair Goggins‘.

Alastair is a highly experienced and technically accomplished lawyer. He has a detailed knowledge of relevant law, provides practical and commercially sound advice and is a very effective litigator. In addition, he has a relaxed and friendly approach which puts clients at ease‘.

I had the absolute pleasure of working with Alastair Goggins, who was exceptionally sensitive to my situation and extremely supportive of my family and the challenges we faced‘.

Alastair’s approach to my case was always utterly professional, even when faced with some very difficult challenges that arose from the actions of the counterparty‘.

Alastair always managed to put my mind at rest and sensitively acknowledged the emotional distress that my family were going through‘.

Alastair Goggins was determined to ensure justice was served; his diligence, tenacity, honesty and integrity throughout the process was the key factor in winning the case‘.

Work highlights

  • Our clients brought an action concerning the effectiveness of a number of deeds of appointments made by their parent.
  • We were instructed in relation to two possible claims both arising from a failed gift in the deceased’s will; we have now settled one claim on favourable terms.
  • We are acting on behalf of a client in which we intend to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act because the will does not adequately make provisions for our client’s everyday living costs.
  • We act for multiple residual beneficiaries of a will. The will however had been amended significantly in the years preceding their death as it had previously left majority of the estate to our clients. There is concern around capacity, undue influence and about the validity of the will itself.
  • We acted on behalf of multiple executors in dealing with a proprietary estoppel claim the High Court.

Mundays LLP

Mundays LLP's private wealth department is active in matters that have a cross-border component, with several of the firm's recent highlights involving assets or issues in the US, Europe, South Asia and parts of Africa. A key feature of the offering sees practitioners being able to advise on pre-dispute or post-dispute tax issues. The team, which is led by Julie Mann, includes Oliver Jackson. Jeremy Duffy joined from Barlow Robbins LLP in October 2018.

Practice head(s):

Julie Mann

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Jackson

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP's practice has gained momentum, following its hire of Angela Bowman from Freeths LLP in February 2018. Bowman now heads up the firm's offering in the Thames Valley, and her move has heralded the arrival of a number of new not-for-profit clients. In addition, the firm also generates work from lottery winners, celebrities, sports personalities and business owners, among others. Senior associate Tara McInnes is the name to note for trust disputes.

Practice head(s):

Angela Bowman; Rose Donoghue

Other key lawyers:

Tara McInnes

Testimonials

Tara McInnes was amazing from the first meeting to the final mediation‘.

Angela Bowman is a sensitive and pragmatic lawyer‘.

Angela Bowman brings a wonderfully thoughtful and sensitive approach to contentious probate work without compromising on toughness as and when required. She is fantastic‘.

Angela Bowman has a wealth of knowledge on charity legacies, wills and probate‘.

Key clients

Anna-Louise Naylor-Leyland

Ruth Mclean

Jeremy Johnson

Cats Protection

Dogs Trust

The Cinnamon Trust

RSPCA

Guide Dogs for the Blind

WWF

Work highlights

  • Assisted a client with a spousal claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 against the Deceased husband’s estate
  • Assisted a client with an adult child claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 against his deceased step-father’s estate, as well as a complicated trust argument relating to his late mother’s estate.
  • Acted for clients on the revocation of a grant after a later will was discovered.
  • Acted for a client in a claim against his father’s estate under the Inheritance Act and on the basis of proprietary estoppel.
  • Rectification proceedings defending a claim under the Inheritance Act and potentially professional negligence proceedings.

TWM Solicitors LLP

TWM Solicitors LLP's contentious trusts and probate offering draws upon the strength of the firm's broader private client department, which includes chartered tax advisers. With the promotion of Candy Stockton to partner in February 2019, the firm now fields a two-partner team. Core areas of work include disputes over the interpretation of wills, will validity claims, the removal of executors and Inheritance Act claims. Guy Perkins, who leads the group, specialises in contentious probate and Court of Protection issues.

Practice head(s):

Guy Perkins

Other key lawyers:

Candy Stockton

Testimonials

TWM Solicitors has strong private client expertise. In meditations, they are clear and fair in support of their client. They are also professional and easy to deal with‘.

Guy Perkins is a gem in the contentious private client world; he combines his vast legal experience with an understated humanity and practicality. Always a pleasure to work with‘.

Guy Perkins is efficient and able to cut to the main arguments of the case. he has always been calm and to the point‘.

I find them to be honest and well informed; they took my case as a priority and answered my questions promptly‘.

Guy Perkins combines good advisory skills with down-to-earth realism and flexibility‘.

Work highlights

  • Handled a complex claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 on behalf of the partner of the deceased and her disabled daughter who he had ‘adopted’.
  • Acted for a client in respect of an estate where the deceased died in 2005. The Grant of Probate was extracted in 2006.
  • Acting for the elder stepson of a deceased individual. She was the victim of a scam a number of years ago where she lost in excess of £200k.
  • Acting for two of four executors, who are siblings of a deceased individual, the bulk of whose wealth was held in various bank accounts in Jersey and Canada. There is a substantial dispute between the two other Executors and the clients as to any funds held in those accounts.
  • Acted for the wife of a deceased individual, who is also executor of the deceased’s will.  Issues arose as to the proper interpretation of the will. The matter was settled following extensive correspondence between the parties.

Adams & Remers

Adams & Remers, which is known for being 'traditionally strong in private client work', has had a recent influx of constructive trust and proprietary estoppel claims. Lloyd Junor heads up the contentious trusts and probate practice at the firm; he is experienced in the full range of issues, including professional negligence claims against original will drafters, complex Inheritance Act claims, will validity claims and Court of Protection disputes. Ashton Davies specialises in claims involving disputed trusts and estates.

Practice head(s):

Lloyd Junor

Other key lawyers:

Ashton Davies

Testimonials

Adams & Remers is a strong regional firm and this is reflected in the quality of the work they receive‘.

The team acts for high net-worth individuals and is particularly known for dealing with the farming community; it is strong on the contentious probate front‘.

The firm has two extremely strong partners in the area of contentious succession issues‘.

‘Lloyd Junor is excellent to work with, very knowledgeable and responsive. His approach is pragmatic and tempered by his extensive experience in this area of law‘.

Lloyd Junor and Ashton Davies are thorough and fight their client’s corner, yet remain pleasant to deal with from a counterparty’s point of view. Ashton Davies in particular is efficient, to the point and adopts a pro-active strategy‘.

Ashton Davies and Lloyd Junor are absolutely excellent practitioners. They are able to handle both vulnerable and difficult clients and retain sound judgment when conducting difficult litigation. They are both stand-out lawyers in this practice area‘.

Birkett Long LLP

Birkett Long LLP handles the full range of inheritance disputes, which includes will disputes, Inheritance Act claims, proprietary estoppel claims, and cases involving breaches of trust and undue influence. Illustrative of its international reach, the firm has recently acted for clients based in Australia, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the US. Practice head Amanda Smallcombe is recommended for contested wills and probate disputes.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Smallcombe

Testimonials

Everyone that helped on my case was very efficient and helpful; this is an excellent firm for dealing with disputed wills‘.

I do not hesitate to recommend cases to Amanda Smallcombe; she always demonstrates enormous pragmatism and empathy and is willing to explore methods of resolution that are not always obvious‘.

The team members complement each other and work well as a unit to deliver results for the client. Their responsiveness under time constraints is excellent‘.

Birkett Long takes a practical approach and demonstrates great attention to detail. The team is prepared to go the extra mile to assist its clients and work well with fellow professionals‘.

Work highlights

  • We act for W, the widow of H, who died unexpectedly in an accident, without a will and with a portfolio of 69 properties valued at £10m.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP

At Field Seymour Parkes LLP, the contentious trusts and probate team is 'well respected and provides an excellent specialist service'. Key areas of work for the group include Inheritance Act claims, contentious Court of Protection work, trust disputes, removal of executors and trustees, claims against fiduciaries and challenges to wills. Consultant Katharine Riley is the practice head.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Riley

Testimonials

Katharine Riley is an extremely capable solicitor with plenty of charm; I refer cases to her and she has always been top notch‘.

Katharine Riley is friendly, quick-witted and thorough. She successfully settled our very difficult case unexpectedly. It was a very good result‘.

Katharine Riley is a highly experienced contentious probate lawyer who is building a successful team‘.

Work highlights

  • Acted for client in the successful defence of a high value cohabitee claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Handled a contentious Court of Protection application for high net worth individual to remove deputy.
  • Assisted a client with a trust dispute arising from inter vivos settlement.
  • Handled a successful spousal claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 involving variation of a trust.
  • Handled a complex claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for severely disabled adult involving beneficial interest claim in a property

Giles Wilson LLP

Giles Wilson LLP's 'client care is first class', according to one client. A key contact is Philip Giles, who is a fully-qualified mediator who has a background in family law. The group is fully able to assist clients with learning difficulties or dementia thanks to its innovative vulnerable client toolkit.

Practice head(s):

Philip Giles

Testimonials

They help clients find resolution in a commercially sensible way and their fees are reasonable. Unlike some larger firms, clients receive personal attention from senior practitioners at this firm‘.

Giles Wilson is the only practice in the Southend area with practitioners in this area that I would refer work to‘.

This is a very strong out-of-London contentious team‘.

Melinda Giles and Philip Giles are both very dedicated and knowledgeable in their respective areas. They have excellent client skills‘.

Philip, as a litigator, understands the need for sensible compromise while remaining tough in negotiations. His experience as a mediator enhances his negotiating skills‘.

Philip Giles in particular is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator. Daniel Curnock is collaborative and pragmatic in his approach‘.

Philip Giles has great emotional empathy with clients and ensures they feel heard in sensitive cases while achieving a settlement which reflects the merits of the claim. He has excellent tactics and strategy‘.

Work highlights

  • Acting for a beneficiary in a cross jurisdictional estate where a complex web of companies has shrouded the true value of the estate amid mistrust of the appointed executors, requiring forensic examination of the available disclosure and the Private Client and Commercial teams working together.
  • An Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 claim where the claimant purports to be the child of the deceased despite equivocal DNA evidence, and a factual dispute about whether the claimant was ever treated as a child of the family.
  • A very high value estate with complex corporate cross jurisdictional and offshore structures where we act for the executors who are seeking to manage a high conflict situation between family members, with the validity of the Will being challenged, and where the interest on unpaid tax will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum.
  • A removal-of-executor case in the jurisdiction of England & Wales where the evidence of suitability stems from activity by the executor in dealing with the deceased’s estate in the UAE, requiring an overseas investigation and an understanding of law and convention in Dubai.
  • A complex Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 claim by a spouse where a detailed knowledge of inheritance tax law was required, requiring a careful negotiation to ensure that the settlement resulted in an appropriate Interest in Possession Discretionary Income Trust.

Griffith Smith LLP

The wills, trusts and estates disputes team at Griffith Smith LLP is headed up by ACTAPS-qualified partner Nadia Cowdrey, who has over 20 years of experience. Proprietary estoppel, subsequent will revocation and Inheritance Act claims are among the drivers of work at the firm, which is also able to advise on the removal of executors. Cases involving lack of testamentary capacity, fraud and undue influence also fall within the scope of the varied practice.

Practice head(s):

Nadia Cowdrey

Neale Turk LLP

Charlotte Searle, who is the name to note at Neale Turk, is a full member of both the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and ACTAPS. In 2018, the firm's work included challenges to wills, as well as disputes between beneficiaries and trust executors. The firm particularly distinguishes itself in potential claims connected with trust arrangements put in place on the advice of will writers.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Searle

Work highlights

  • Advising the beneficiaries of an estate and lifetime trust worth in excess of £21m and securing the removal of professional executors.
  • Successfully defending a complex claim regarding allegations of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and fraudulent lifetime gifts, whilst also defending a concurrent spouse’s claim under the Inheritance Act.
  • Successfully challenging a will based on lack of testamentary capacity and negotiating a settlement agreement readjusting the distribution of the estate.
  • Negotiating the settlement of a dispute regarding the division of sale proceeds from a property held on trust for the benefit of a trust and an estate.
  • Advising the beneficiary of an estate on a deed a variation to terminate a life interest trust and secure outright payment of our client’s share of the estate.

Nockolds Solicitors

Nockolds Solicitors demonstrates 'a high degree of competence' in relation to wills and trust disputes. Although the firm's client list is primarily reflective of its strong regional presence, it also acts for clients based abroad. It has a particular niche in acting for Spanish clients and clients with assets in Spain. In addition, the group has recently won work from a number of new clients from Brazil. The main contact is Daniel Winter, who is a full member of ACTAPS.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Winter

Testimonials

The firm was large enough to give me confidence that I was working with a reputable and trustworthy organisation but not so large as to make me feel insignificant‘.

I could not have been more fortunate in having Daniel Winter assist me; his ability to listen, pull out critical points and build up a strategy with no fuss is truly impressive‘.

I believe Daniel is as good, if not better, than anyone I have dealt with over the years‘.

The team at Nockolds is very responsive and always happy to answer any queries in a simple language’.

Daniel Winter was very knowledgeable on all aspects of my complex case; he took a direct and straightforward route to securing a future I may not have had without his negotiations‘.

Daniel Winter was exceptionally diligent and showed great attention to detail; he was always willing to clarify any issues and made me feel comfortable and valued as a client‘.

Daniel Winter is very competent and professional yet has a caring nature‘.

Gemma Dudmish and Vicky Tassell made the process as painless and straightforward as possible; they were approachable, personable and happy to explain matters in detail. They also showed meticulous attention to detail‘.

Work highlights

  • Handled proceedings in the High Court in relation to the £5m estate of a convicted paedophile concerning questions of historic sexual abuse of boys.
  • Urgent High Court action on behalf of vulnerable client with severe physical disability for the recovery of monies taken in breach of trust including freezing injunction.
  • Defending will validity and Inheritance Act claims of £1m+ in UK and Hong Kong estates.
  • Acting for gentleman with dementia in answering claim for historic theft of artefacts from museum.
  • High Court action against attorney of deceased aunt for return of monies taken during her lifetime in breach of trust and removal and replacement of executors.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP's contentious trusts and probate work is managed by the firm's private client team, which has a strong record of representing clients in matters involving multiple claims or assets spread across several jurisdictions. Practice head Michael Cash covers the full range of disputes, which includes contentious applications in the Court of Protection. Henrietta Mason is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Michael Cash

Other key lawyers:

Henrietta Mason

Key clients

Administrator for the estate of Nizam of Hyderabad

Nora Greenslade

Morigi

Work highlights

  • Acting for the administrator of the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad’s estate in the long running dispute over £35m held by National Westminster Bank that was deposited in 1948.
  • Acting on behalf of five US family members in an international trust and estate dispute.
  • Instructed by a client on the appeal of a life-affecting High Court decision.
  • Acting for the taxpayer in a large IHT case against HMRC.
  • Acting in a complex high value estate involving multiple claims, competing interests and delicate family dynamics.

Spratt Endicott

Spratt Endicott undertakes probate disputes, challenges to the validity and construction of will and trust documents, the appointment and removal of executors/trustees and breach of trust claims. In addition to handling litigation, the firm assists clients with alternative forms of dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. David Endicott is the practice head. Shamsher Pangu is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

David Endicott

Other key lawyers:

Shamsher Pangu

Testimonials

Shamsher Pangu has always responded promptly to correspondence and been available to clarify any matters of concern. He is very patient with his explanations and clearly sets out the options available. His responses to the counterparty are concise and to the point and he has a very calming manner‘.

Stevens & Bolton LLP

Partner James Lister heads up the contentious trusts and estates department at Stevens & Bolton LLP, which 'balances the work ethic and knowledge of a city firm with the personal sensibilities of a local firm'. The group has significant involvement in multijurisdictional matters, having recently represented clients in disputes connected with Guernsey, Jersey, Singapore, France and Germany. High-value trust and estate work is a key area of focus. Lister also has experience of Court of Protection cases.

Practice head(s):

James Lister

Testimonials

Managing associate James Lister is an excellent lawyer; he is clever, commercial, collaborative and client friendly‘.

Although it is located outside of London, Stevens & Bolton can easily match its city opponents in strength. It is not to be underestimated‘.

Stevens & Bolton is one of the go-to regional firms for contentious trusts and probate‘.

James Lister is an excellent litigation tactician; he is well regarded in the field and while he remains steely when negotiating with the counterparty, he is always a pleasure to work either alongside or against‘.

James Lister is a stand out practitioner. He is a partner is all but name, and has exceptional knowledge and tactical insight. He is always prepared to go the extra mile for his clients‘.

James Lister is a very experienced litigator who has practiced exclusively in contentious trusts and probate for years and has been involved in some of the most important recent cases in the field‘.

James Lister has developed a knowledge and tactical acumen well beyond that which might be expected of someone of his seniority. He is a terrific lawyer who will undoubtedly go very far indeed‘.

Work highlights

  • Acting for an offshore trustee regarding a $5m trust concerning disputes over the exercise of the trustee’s.
  • Acting for the trustees of a UK-domiciled trust holding shares in a series of offshore trading companies concerning claims for the removal of directors of those companies.
  • Acting for several minor beneficiaries in a claim for financial provision from the estate (and related trusts) of one of their parents.
  • Acting for the litigation friend of minor and unborn beneficiaries in a substantial variation of trust application.

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP handles contentious legacy matters (where it acts for national charities) and professional negligence claims in the context of succession and estates. Team head Stephanie Walls is experienced in high-value and complex Inheritance Act claims. Court of Protection work is another mainstay of the practice.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Walls

Testimonials

Blake Morgan have a reputation for advising charities, specifically in relation to a range of matters including wills, probate and the administration of estates‘.

Blake Morgan’s ability to bring in additional expertise from within the firm’rs other departments (tax planning, corporate) to resolve contentious trust matters had always impressed me‘.

Stephanie Walls and Caroline Wild were honest, knowledgeable, constructive and helpful at all times; formal advice was presented in a timely and clear manner that was suitable for the layman, necessitating little need for clarification‘.

James Grieg was outstanding in his attention to detail and willingness to listen. Arshoo Singh is tenacious and inventive; clients have confidence that she will promote their interests‘.

Stephanie Walls has lots of experience and a firm sense of how cases should be run for the benefit of her clients‘.

Blandy & Blandy LLP

Blandy & Blandy LLP's dispute resolution team, which is led by Philip D’Arcy, handles contentious trusts and probate work. D'Arcy represents several high net worth individuals in high value estates and trust disputes, including those involving offshore assets. The team works closely with the firm's non-contentious probate, tax and trusts department to provide the full spectrum of advice to clients.

Practice head(s):

Philip D’Arcy

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)'s practice is led by Amanda Melton, who has specialised in contentious trusts and probate for more than 15 years, and has an interest in farming cases, including niche proprietary estoppel matters. In addition, her background in family law makes her a particularly strong choice in Inheritance Act claims. Elsewhere, the firm has a dedicated charities group, which works with Melton's team to serve charity sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Melton

Testimonials

IBB is a home counties firm with an impressive client base covering all aspects of contentious trusts and probate work to a high standard. For a relatively small firm, it attracts a number of wealthy clients and higher court litigation‘.

What makes this practice unique is that it puts clients at ease and makes them feel listened to and believed without losing the objective viewpoint. It is a very hard to achieve this balance and other firms often struggle to find it‘.

Amanda Melton has a refreshingly level-headed and calm manner which is popular with clients. She is always considering creative and cost-effective options to achieve the best outcome in a case, but is also capable of robust written advocacy when needed. I find her very professional and knowledgeable‘.

Catherine O’Reilly is extremely pleasant to work with. She is very bright and responsive and has an instinctive understanding of the client’s needs‘.

Amanda Melton listened to me, understood the case immediately and provided sound advice on what to do and and what to expect‘.

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP

Led by Alan Foster, the contested probate practice at Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP works closely with the firm's wills and estate planning department to offer a full service to clients. A significant portion of the firm's contentious work involves acting for high net worth individuals with large inheritances. It has also recently had an increase in mandates relating to SME-generated wealth.

Practice head(s):

Alan Foster

Testimonials

Alan Foster has a really good feel for contentious probate work and is excellent at handling the client’. 

Alan Foster is knowledgeable, experienced and very practical. As a counterparty, he is able to advance matters sensibly in the interests of the clients. We will be able to identify the areas of dispute swiftly’. 

Alan Foster is very experienced; he absorbs the client’s stress and obtains very good outcomes‘.

I refer clients to Alan Foster and hold him in high regard.’

Work highlights

  • Represented client in the Court of Appeal following a challenge by the Client’s ex-husband as to the validity of the Client’s mother’s Will.
  • Representing a client in relation to a claim against the estate of an Aunt, including a claim on the grounds of proprietary estoppel.
  • Representing a client, a surviving spouse, in relation to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Representing a client in relation to a dispute between two executors as to the assets and liabilities of their mother’s estate.

Tees Law

The contentious trusts and probate team at Tees Law, which is led by Caroline Metcalf, is 'highly professional and friendly'. It also 'exudes confidence and experience'. Areas of significant growth recently included contested wills, challenges to the mental capacity of testators and inheritance disputes involving families with step-children. Metcalf, who is a full member of ACTAPS, has particular expertise in niche farming-related disputes involving complex trusts.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Metcalf

Testimonials

The team worked very smoothly as a unit, passing on important information between the relevant departments. The team members were always very polite and cost-sensitive; they really made me feel comfortable‘.

Extensive knowledge of the field; they handle personal cases with sensitivity‘.

Caroline Metcaff was extremely efficient in dealing with litigation; she kept me well informed and spoke to me in a clear manner minus the legal jargon.

Caroline was extremely prompt with her responses and instilled in me a tremendous feeling of confidence at an otherwise difficult time‘.

Understanding, kind and empathetic, Caroline Metcalf was an absolute pleasure to work with while getting us the results we needed‘.

Caroline Metcalf is a knowledgeable and sensible specialist in this field. Her advice was sound and given in a calm manner which was  just what we needed in a difficult situation’. 

Work highlights

  • Assisted a client with a dispute concerning the inheritance of a bungalow situated on a farm. It was argued that this fell within the legacy gift to her brother, and a claim under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for financial provision from the estate of her late mother who died in July 2016.
  • Acted for a client, who was the illegitimate daughter of a deceased individual, who had left a will leaving his estate to his children (no children were named in the will). Her client’s paternity was challenged. The executor lives in Australia.
  • Instructed on behalf of a child of a deceased individual to defend a 1975 Act claim against the estate of her father who committed suicide.
  • Acted for the beneficiaries of the estate to defend a claim brought under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for financial provision by the Deceased’s step daughter.
  • Acted for a client in an extremely emotional case concerning the suicide of the client’s late husband. The couple lived in a property which they themselves had constructed, which occupied farmland owned by others. Whilst Katie Latham’s client was the beneficiary of her husband’s estate under the intestacy rules, there was a dispute concerning whether there was any right for the property to sit on that land.

Thomson Snell & Passmore

Thomson Snell & Passmore's dispute resolution group, which undertakes the firm's contentious trusts and probate work, demonstrates 'robust expertise across all levels of seniority'. The scope of the work includes will challenges, Inheritance Act claims, trust disputes between co-owners of a property and disputes arising from the administration of trusts and estates. Practitioners work with members of the dedicated non-contentious tax, trusts and probate practice, as well as experts in Court of Protection matters. Nicholas Horton is the head of the dispute resolution team. In a recent development, contentious probate specialist Monika Byrska joined from Anthony Gold.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Horton

Other key lawyers:

Amy Wilford

Testimonials

A highly professional team – always a sound choice‘.

Genuinely nice people who are a pleasure to work with‘.

They were professional yet deeply sympathetic to my situation. The anticipated costs and timeline were made very clear to me from the outset and key legal points were explained to me in an easily comprehensible manner‘.

Working with Amy Wilford was like dealing with an old friend; she is very caring‘.

Amy Wilford is conscientious and hard-working with a great depth of knowledge‘.

Amy Wilford is very bright and thorough; she is a a reliable practitioner and handles each case with skill‘.

Nicholas Horton’s depth of experience in this area shows in the way he handles cases. His knowledge of the practice area is so clear that clients are soon put at ease‘.

Amy Wilford handled my case efficiently, professionally and sympathetically.  I knew where we were at every step of the journey‘.

Work highlights

  • Handled a dispute between beneficiaries and sole executor (a solicitor) relating to a high value, complex estate.
  • Handled a dispute between executors and widow (4th wife) of deceased who has been asserting a beneficial interest in deceased’s Mayfair property and pursuing a 1975 Act claim.
  • The firm is advising the executors / trustees on an Inheritance Act claim by the deceased’s former wife in relation to a multijurisdictional estate.
  • Correcting tax planning / drafting errors by a well known firm and then pursuing a professional negligence claim for any unmitigated losses and other costs.
  • Handling a Presumption of Death Act 2013 claim on behalf of a missing person’s spouse.

Woodfines LLP

Led by Nigel AshtonWoodfines LLP's team has notable experience of cases arising from estate administration and will disputes. The group is also active in cases involving cross-border assets, which is complemented by expertise in tax issues. Court of Protection applications are also handled by the firm.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Ashton