Contentious trusts and probate in South East

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP advises a broad swathe of clients on contentious issues relating to landed estates, farming family disputes, family businesses, pension trusts, and charity legacies. In recent years the practice has seen a marked increase in litigation involving high-value trusts. Practice head Duncan Elson, who 'fights really hard for his clients', concentrates on large and complex UK trusts and estates, both in the UK and internationally. He has a track record of expertise in pensions litigation, family businesses, and landed estates. Senior associate Samantha Ewing specialises in probate matters, as well as will and trust disputes.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Elson

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Ewing; Rebecca Piper

Testimonials

The members of the team are extremely knowledgeable and efficient while also being friendly and approachable. They are happy to help with the small queries just as well as advising on the larger matters.’

The team has a very strong collection of experts and they are all very pragmatic.’

A top London law firm but with an out of London base operating at the same level as the main team-indeed part of that team. Superb.

Duncan Elson has so much experience as a litigator, fights really hard for his clients, and is a delight to deal with. He is backed up with some excellent associates, like Samantha Ewing.’

Charles Russell Speechlys is a leading light in the contentious trust and probate market. They have a global reach and are able to provide a cost-efficient service, where appropriate, from their base in Guildford. I would certainly recommend this firm to colleagues, friends, and family!

I find the lawyers at Charles Russell Speechlys to be much more approachable and user-friendly than some of their competitors. Duncan Elson brings a wealth of experience to all matters. I also have also had very positive experiences working with Samantha Ewing on common intention constructive trust and proprietary estoppel matters.’

Key clients

The Public Trustee of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Hannah Anglin Jaffe, Kathryn Wood and Christopher Smith

Work highlights

  • Continuing to act for the Guernsey Public Trustee in relation to a complex pension fraud involving proceedings in a number of different jurisdictions
  • Acting on the restructuring and winding up of five related family discretionary trusts following the deaths of the settlors.
  • Obtaining a world-wide freezing injunction to protect the assets of an offshore family trust.

Cripps Pemberton Greenish

Cripps Pemberton Greenish is known for handling complex contentious trust and probate matters for high-net-worth individuals and family businesses, including multi-jurisdictional trust disputes. 'Experienced and tough litigator' Myles McIntosh heads the practice, specialising in litigation regarding contentious trusts and probate work, while the 'firm but fair' Philip Youdan advises on trust and will disputes. Russell Simpson focuses primarily on complex trust disputes and high value probate and inheritance claims. Dino Sikkel also comes highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Myles McIntosh

Testimonials

‘Myles McIntosh is an experienced and tough litigator.‘

Cripps have a substantial private client team and are well known for their private client work. The contentious probate team within that has a high profile and has strength and depth compared to some other competitors.’

Philip Youdan is a standout individual to work with. He has been on the other side of matters and is firm but fair to deal with. He endorses mediation and is prepared to compromise where appropriate in order to obtain the best possible settlement for his clients.

The team is realistic and very competent in this difficult field.’

The professionalism and care shown by the legal team is exceptional. The size of the organisation means that they can seek assistance from the legal teams throughout the Cripps organisation. The support staff are also excellent in the back-up of the solicitor.’

Dino Sikkel has given advice relating to my matter in a professional, proactive, calm and reassuring manner. His advice has always been calm and rational. My emails and telephone calls are always answered in a prompt manner and Dino will proactively look at matters prior to contacting me.’

Philip Youdan was approachable and kept us informed.’

Cripps has a sizeable team with excellent knowledge of private client work. There is never a delay in payment as they always have money on account from clients.’

Very easy to deal with and there is good communication between team members. The team is professional with extremely good knowledge of this area of law.

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP is known for advising trustees, executors, and individuals disinherited from wills on issues including the challenges to the validity of a will and family trust disputes, as well as other high-value and complex cases involving contentious trusts. Practice leader Sarah Foster is an expert in alternative dispute resolution and acts as a litigation friend for minors requiring separate representation. Foster works closely with senior associate Sally Goodger, who deals with matters relating to wills, trusts, and estates.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Foster

Other key lawyers:

Sally Goodger

Testimonials

A remarkably strong team, which can match any London firm. Extremely experienced, and with a strong emphasis on resolving disputes. They draw strongly on the firm’s non-contentious team, thus offering an unrivalled management of neutral positions, or representation of vulnerable/under-age litigants.’

The team at Freeths is one of the most well-established private client regional firms in the Oxford area, with an outstanding reputation for the resolution of trusts and probate disputes.’

Sally Goodger is an excellent solicitor who is able to give clear and sensible advice and remain calm under pressure. Sarah Foster is also a fantastic lawyer.’

Sarah Foster has a wealth of experience and knowledge in her area of specialism and this, combined with her ability to deliver complex legal advice in a concise, practical and approachable manner makes her stand out as exceptional in her field.’

Irwin Mitchell

The team at Irwin Mitchell litigates on behalf of individuals, banks, trustees, and charities in complex and high-value matters concerning the validity of wills and lifetime gifts, proprietary estoppel claims, and Court of Protection matters concerning financial abuse. Practice leader Paula James specialises in litigation involving both national and international complex trust and probate disputes. Senior associate Stephen Ireland focuses primarily on wills, trust, and estate disputes, while senior associate Margaret Windram represents clients on complex trust disputes and Court of Protection disputes.

Practice head(s):

Paula James

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Ireland

Testimonials

This firm has a very good reputation in this field. They have an impressive caseload, and are often against the well-established, traditional firms in this area. Their size, and with its many locations, lawyers and resources they are able to deploy on cases, is impressive to behold.’

Stephen Ireland brings a very experienced, balanced and commercially focused approach to cases. He is particularly proactive when it comes to gathering evidence at an early stage, and always has the client’s wider interests to heart.’

Paula James is extremely responsive, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to deal with.’

There is strong leadership from the top: you can see that the team works really well together.

Paula James has the experience. I refuse to believe that there is anything Paula has not seen and dealt with before.’

Moore Barlow

Following the merger of Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins, Moore Barlow has continued to build on its reputation as a go-to firm for high-net-worth individuals, landed estates and family trusts, regarding claims concerning the validity and execution of wills and trusts, and claims against trustees for breach of their fiduciary duties. Former Barlow Robbins partner Scott Taylor , an 'exceptional communicator' heads up the contentious trusts and estates team out of Guildford, working with 'tough, pragmatic fighterThomas Middlehurst in Richmond and Claire Haverfield in Southampton. Fiona Heald, who is based in Lymington, specialises in advising on matters relating to mental incapacity. Other key members of the team include senior associate Lisa Green.

Practice head(s):

Scott Taylor

Testimonials

An excellent private client team – they offer an extremely professional an efficient service, and are friendly and approachable at a competitive price point.’

‘Scott Taylor and Lisa Green are experienced litigators who fight their client’s corner, but without unnecessary aggression towards their opponent. They are knowledgeable and approachable.’

Thomas Middlehurst stands out for us – he has an excellent commercial approach whilst being very a friendly and approachable.’

‘Scott Taylor is pragmatic, astute and works well with peers and clients alike.’

‘Scott Taylor is excellent with clients, having a particularly calm and reassuring manner. He has exceptionally good communication skills.’

The practice has a strong understanding of private wealth issues and particular expertise on property disputes.’

Thomas Middlehurst has a particularly good focus on property issues and is good with clients.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the beneficiaries and personal representatives of the Deceased’s estate against a Claim by the Deceased’s ex-partner under the Inheritance Act. Forced the Clamant to discontinue proceedings following the filing of substantial evidence of his abusive behaviour which brought into question his eligibility to bring a claim under the Act.
  • Acting for the beneficiaries and trustees of a SSAS which jointly owns a parcel of land valued at £2.8m over an application for the sale of the land.
  • Acting for a disinherited adult child, in her claim against the Estate of her adopted father, where her two adopted siblings are defending the claim as beneficiaries as well as the client’s infant daughter.

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP works with a wide range of clients, including national corporates and charities, as well as high-net-worth individuals and families regarding trust disputes and validity disputes. Practice head Adam Draper works with high-net-worth and high-profile clients, including charities and trustees, on matters such as statutory wills and trust-related issues. Angela Bowman focuses primarily on contested legacy cases for national charities, while senior associate Tara McInnes is known for her work on trust disputes involving high-profile individuals and not-for-profits.

Practice head(s):

Adam Draper

Other key lawyers:

Angela Bowman; Tara McInnes

Testimonials

A brilliant team both nationally and regionally. This regional team attracts high-quality work and approach cases with the right blend of compassion, legal knowledge, and commercial objectivity.’

Tara McInnes is a stand-out individual. A real star in the contested probate world. Approaching cases with the perfect blend of empathy, legal knowledge, and commerciality which is needed in contested probate cases. A pleasure to work with!

People at Shoosmiths were very approachable and gave me a brilliant one-on-one service. They were attentive and dealt with my matter in a very human way.’

From the very beginning, Tara McInnes was very caring and knowledgeable. She always had time for me and I felt that she worked hard to get the best deal for us. Never felt I was just a number.

A great team with high-quality individuals. A good balance between legal excellence and client care.’

Tara McInness is a superb lawyer, matching high-quality advice with good client empathy and a pragmatic approach to litigation.’

Key clients

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Help for Heroes

Blue Cross

Cancer Research UK

Cats Protection

RSPCA

Adams & Remers

Adams & Remers is instructed predominantly by high-net-worth private clients with complex estates and trusts, as well as lay and professional trustees. Members of the practice are experienced in challenging claims for reasonable provision from an estate, and investigating the financial abuse of the elderly and deceased by an attorney or executor. 'Knowledgable' head of practice Lloyd Junor litigates on behalf of trusts as well as acting for professional trustees, fiduciaries, and their advisers. Ashton Davies is 'sensible and pragmatic', and specialises in claims involving trusts and acts for professional and lay trustees, executors, and beneficiaries.

Practice head(s):

Lloyd Junor

Other key lawyers:

Ashton Davies

Testimonials

Adams & Remers has a very strong presence in the South of England and is extremely well-versed in this area of law.’

Very competent department with two experienced contentious probate lawyers. Good to deal with and have on the other side as they are practical and outcome-focused.’

Ashton Davies is a very sound contentious probate lawyer who has a good manner with opponents. You can get to the meat of the issue with Ashton who takes a practical view on outcomes.’

They are clearly very experienced in the contentious trust and probate field and offer a first-class service to their clients. They are at least on a par with other regional practices that offer this service.’

This young ambitious team has worked hard in this area, and they had developed a well-deserved reputation in the South of England.’

Ashton Davis and Lloyd Junor both give sound advice to their clients and have both academic and client-handling skills in good measure.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the beneficiary of a trust, in proceedings for rectification or rescission of a Deed of Appointment

B P Collins LLP

B P Collins LLP has experience in all types of contested probate disputes, including the validity and interpretation of testamentary documents, as well as administrating estates and trusts. It also has expertise in litigation surrounding the enforceability of genealogists' 'finder's fee' contingency arrangements. Practice head Craig Williams has a particular emphasis on contentious trusts and inheritance disputes, while dispute resolution head Matthew Brandis has expertise in contentious trust and probate disputes for high-net-worth individuals.

Practice head(s):

Craig Williams; Matthew Brandis

Testimonials

The initial response to seeking to instruct BP Collins was very quick and effective. Craig Williams is able to deal with the other parties assertively whilst being compassionate and understanding to the principle client.’

Excellent depth of knowledge and experience in contentious probate, combined with wider expertise in other areas such as corporate law and property law which are often involved in disputes concerning larger estates and trusts.’

Craig Williams and Matthew Brandis both have excellent knowledge of the law and procedure involved in these types of disputes, combined with a friendly, approachable, and pragmatic problem-solving attitude.’

It was always easy to contact someone who could deal with the matter or refer it on appropriately.’

My recent dealings have been mainly with Craig Williams, who was knowledgeable, helpful, and efficient.’

Quality service and quality people.

Birketts LLP

The team at Birketts LLP works in tandem with the wider firm's private client and litigation practices to provide a rounded service to trust corporates, charities and individuals on matters including cross border issues, serious allegations of fraud, and high-value breach of trust issues. Joint practice leaders Bernadette Baker, Laurence Weeks, and Daden Hunt are key individuals, as is Marie McMahon. Associate Jenny Howe joined the practice in September 2019.

Testimonials

The practice has a team of sufficient size to provide service at different seniority and price levels. Detailed and accurate advice provided with regular updates on progress. Well-supported by efficient back office functions.’

Brachers

The contentious trusts team at Brachers has particular expertise litigating proprietary estoppel claims brought after death. In recent years it has seen an increase in instructions from the farming community. Practice leader Deborah Cain focuses on disputes connected to high-value estates, including disputes between executors, trustees, and beneficiaries. Jennifer Alderman was promoted to solicitor in September 2019.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Cain

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Alderman

Testimonials

‘The team are responsive and positive; they respond promptly to any queries.’

‘Deborah Cain is friendly and very approachable – we are pleased that she is working for us, not against us! We have a fantastic relationship with her and received excellent advice with a very difficult issue – she listens, understands and advises.’

Gardner Leader LLP

The team at Gardner Leader LLP has a track record of work advising clients on the validity of wills for multimillion-pound estates, Court of Protection matters, and matters involving negligent executors, especially in regards to appearances in the High Court. Practice leader Alastair Goggins , a 'stand-out legal and tactical analyst', is an expert in contentious matters involving will and trust disputes, estoppel claims, and the removal of executors and trustees.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Goggins

Testimonials

Gardner Leader is a growing regional practice with a strong contentious trust and probate practice led by Alastair Goggins. He is an experienced and empathetic lawyer who knows the area well.’

Alastair Goggins is friendly and professional, a great communicator, and I admire his moral principles. He makes time for clients and he says it as it is.’

Alistair Goggins is a very impressive litigator. His analytical skills are extremely good. He is calm under pressure, gives measured and sound advice to clients. This is a department that punches far above its weight and matches many central London firms in its service.’

Alistair Goggins is a stand-out legal and tactical analyst.

‘Gardner Leader has an extremely good contentious trust and probate team, headed by the excellent and very experienced Alastair Goggins. The team combines a thorough knowledge of the relevant law (in a highly technical area) with a good feel for the practical and commercial realities of a case. Their client handling is excellent. They have dealt with some very interesting and high profile cases in recent years. They also benefit from being one specialist team within a larger firm, which gives clients ready access to expert advice in other relevant areas such as property and corporate law.’

Alastair Goggins is a first-class lawyer, with a wealth of experience. He has a detailed knowledge of the technical law, an excellent feel for negotiation and litigation tactics and he gives good clear advice based on the commercial realities of the client’s situation. He is confident and efficient, and has a very good relationship with his clients.’

There is strength and depth to each team. All members of the team are friendly and approachable and experts in their field.

Alastair Goggins has great experience in inheritance dispute work. He is approachable and respectful of his clients and guides them well through the legal process.’

Mundays LLP

Mundays LLP has seen an increase in recent years in cross-border private wealth matters, including work for both UK and non-UK domiciles concerning overseas assets. Members of the practice routinely act on high-stakes and highly-sensitive contentious probate and trust matters; private wealth head Jeremy Duffy, who took over leadership of the practice in 2019, advises overseas-based clients on tax matters relating to immigration to the UK and the de-enveloping of property holding structures. Michael Brierley, who joined the team in October 2019 from Hanne & Co, has a strong background in litigation.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Duffy

TWM Solicitors LLP

The team at TWM Solicitors LLP advises both local and international clients on complex multimillion-pound claims relating to contentious trust and probate, as well as administering estates involving vulnerable beneficiaries and Court of Protection and deputyship matters. New head of team Candy Stockton was recently promoted from managing associate to partner and is experienced in alternative dispute resolution methods, injunctions, and all matters relating to contentious trust and probate. Guy Perkins retired in July 2020.

Practice head(s):

Candy Stockton

Testimonials

The entire team were very professional and helpful. Guy Perkins and his team were tenacious and offered me good advice and helped me to grasp the bigger picture. The accounts department were helpful especially as I’m based in Australia. The firm was recommended to me by a lawyer based in Sydney which is testament to them.’

The contentious trusts and probate team have always had high-quality work. A consistent theme is the excellent case preparation and thorough instructions to counsel. The members are also usually keen for in-person conferences at an early stage, which I find particularly helpful in order to put a case strategy in place.’

I became a client with TWM under very difficult and stressful circumstances due to the very sudden death of my partner. I was very impressed from the outset with the level of compassion and reassurance that I received from Guy Perkins and his team. Without the level of professionalism and genuine kindness I have been shown by TWM I believe that I would have found the last few years extremely stressful, which has not been the case. On the contrary whenever I may have sent an email of a rather nervous or worried character I have been responded to virtually the same day in a very helpful way. These comments also extend to the PA and junior trainees I have been helped by in my dealings with TWM.

Birkett Long LLP

The team at Birkett Long LLP has experience advising local, national, and international clients on all areas of inheritance disputes, such as will disputes, estoppel trusts, and claims for breach of trust, amongst others. Additionally, it handles a growing amount of contentious Court of Protection work, as well as alternative dispute resolution. 'Tough, wise and pragmatic' practice head Amanda Smallcombe specialises in will, trust, and inheritance disputes. Solicitor Rachel Leech focuses on contested probate and Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Smallcombe

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Leech

Testimonials

‘Amanda Smallcombe  provides clear and client-friendly advice and legal analysis.’

‘I have been so impressed with the quality of the team and their legal work, and in the emotional support offered to families.’

‘Amanda Smallcombe  has vast experience in this field; having worked in a few areas of the law, she has dedicated her career to this field and in my opinion leads the way in this area of law.’

‘Fantastic case management skills and organisation. A team of tenacious litigators with a wealth of knowledge in contentious probate matters.’

‘Amanda Smallcombe continues to be practical, empathetic and knowledgeable in resolving disputes in her clients’ best interests.’

‘Rachel Leech is a superb associate, huge work rate, calm, efficient, tough but kind.’

‘Amanda Smallcombe is a brilliant lawyer; tough, wise and pragmatic.’

‘Amanda Smallcombe is conscientious and responsible. She is approachable and likeable, and also knowledgeable and sensible.’

Field Seymour Parkes LLP

Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises clients on trust disputes, removal of executors and trustees, and claims against fiduciaries and challenges to wills. Legal director Katharine Riley heads up the team, working with disputes specialist Bill Dixon, who handles cross-border high-value trust disputes involving complex assets, while Sue Baker has experience in proprietary estoppel. Ben Oliver was promoted to partner in October 2019.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Riley

Testimonials

This contentious probate team works very closely with their excellent private client department. This provides for an excellent wrap-around service.’

Excellent service with vast experience and a commercial mindset from the outset.’

Katharine Riley is passionate about her clients and finding innovative solutions to their disputes.’

Field Seymour Parkes is an extremely good law firm.’

Katharine Riley is the stand-out lawyer at Field Seymour Parkes. She is extremely approachable, friendly, and knows the law inside out.’

Giles Wilson LLP

Giles Wilson LLP's practice is headed up by Philip Giles, a qualified mediator with a background in divorce law and family matters. He is supported by partner Melinda Giles, head of the private client team. She has a strong background in financial abuse and working with vulnerable clients, as well as in probate and trusts. The team advises clients on invalid wills and mishandling of estates, amongst other core issues relating to contentious trusts.

Practice head(s):

Philip Giles

Neale Turk LLP

The Basingstoke team at Neale Turk LLP advises both local and international high-net-worth individuals on a broad range of contentious trust and probate matters, such as professional negligence claims and disputes regarding the validity of wills and trusts, the removal of trustees and representatives, and Court of Protection matters. Practice leader Charlotte Searle is highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Searle

Testimonials

My wife and I have been working with one of the partners, Charlotte Searle, who we both hold in very high regard. Charlotte responds swiftly to all communications, is very conversant with the issues raised, gives excellent strategic advice on how best to proceed, and is persistent. Regardless of the outcome of our case, our trust in Charlotte’s professional judgement and integrity is absolute.’

I found Neale Turk’s services very professional and very quick at responding to a question or a problem.

Charlotte Searle was very professional. She gave me great advice in helping me draw a conclusion to my mother’s estate. I have recommended her to friends and colleagues.

Charlotte Searle has been sympathetic and shown great empathy. She has a great ability to help us understand the legal process. She has always made contact whenever there is an issue. She always makes herself available, sometimes at short notice, and even staying late to explain issues and talk us through some of the more complex issues in our case.’

Charlotte Searle, provided absolutely first-class work for my elderly mother who was dealing with a very contentious family legal matter. Not only was her legal strategy the correct one, but the empathy that she showed to my mother was heartwarming. I live outside the UK, so my support was remote, but her communication was first-class. I will not hesitate to ask for Charlotte’s services in the future, nor to hesitate in recommending her.

Charlotte Searle is professional, friendly, efficient, and kept us well-informed.

The practice offers a full list of legal services with in-depth knowledge of all aspects of family law. The support staff act in a timely manner to provide excellent support to the solicitors.

Nockolds Solicitors

The team at Nockolds Solicitors advises high-net-worth individuals involved in a broad range of disputes, regularly attracting international clients as well as those based across the Hertfordshire, Essex and London regions. The practice is headed by Daniel Winter, who frequently acts for individuals in positions at top City businesses, as well as retired and elderly clients. He is supported by wills and probate head Peter King and Peter Dodd, an expert in the field of cohabitee claims.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Winter

Other key lawyers:

Peter King; Peter Dodd

Testimonials

A strong regional presence, with excellent knowledge in this area.’

Daniel Winter knows this area of law inside out. He provides sensible and cost-effective advice in cases big and small.’

I am a chancery barrister and have worked with Nockolds. I have always found working with this team an enjoyable experience. They are highly competent and have a wealth of experience in this practice area.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The contentious trust and probate team at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP  is known for advising charities, executors, and trustees on complex multi-jurisdictional matters, such as contenting wills and trusts, international trusts and estates, and breach of trust claims. The practice is led by Michael Cash, who divides his time between the firm's Basingstoke and London offices, working with Henrietta Mason.

Practice head(s):

Michael Cash

Other key lawyers:

Henrietta Mason

Testimonials

‘My lawyer was very clear from the beginning about the potential weakness of my legal position. She gave clear advice and managed phonecalls well, and produced clear and accurate correspondence. She avoided criticising my previous lawyers, although she did indicate what she would have done differently while also being clear about what she thought that they had got right. My only regret is that I was not with her from the beginning. I would definitely recommend Penningtons.’

‘Michael Cash is a star in the area. He has decades of experience and brings a calm approach to the most difficult of circumstances. Despite a heavy work load, he is responsive, helpful and totally charming.’

‘Jack Bailey is a rising star, rightly promoted very recently to senior associate. He has a commendable ability to juggle multiple balls without showing any strain. He fights for his clients like a lion.’

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP's key client base is high-net-worth individuals and business owners; the practice uses its expertise in litigation and alternative dispute resolution to deal with matters relating to wealth protection, estate planning, and trust creation and management. Practice head Alan Foster is experienced in divorce dissolution, with an emphasis on complex family trusts/settlements, contentious probate, and family court matters. Leader of the South East private client department Max Wright advises clients on inheritance tax planning, complex probate matters, mental capacity issues, and living wills. Bruce Clarke joined as partner from Lee Bolton Monier-Williams in September 2019. Partner Alistair Rustemeyer has also joined the team, expanding his work from commercial litigation at the firm.

Practice head(s):

Alan Foster

Testimonials

Rix & Kay are an excellent choice for an out of London firm in this practice area. They really know their stuff.’

Alan Foster is extremely experienced and has good knowledge in the crossover area of matrimonial finance, which can be important in Inheritance Act claims. He has a lot of ‘EQ’ and is very good with clients.’

Rix & Kay have a real sense of local connection, a friendly, almost family feel. That is not to say they don’t wield significant expertise or clout, even when up against the bigger or more metropolitan firms.’

Alan Foster maintains a very healthy contentious probate practice and offers an excellent alternative to more expensive firms. He is very good at managing the client in terms of expectations and communication, keeping them informed and up-to-date without overwhelming them with information.’

Technically excellent private client department that supports their experienced contentious probate team.’

Max Wright is a superb private client lawyer. He is extremely hard working and truly on top of this technical area of practice. Alan Foster is very experienced and excellent at helping distressed clients.’

The team, led by Alan Foster, has great experience in contentious trusts and probate matters. Alan’s experience in family law, in Court of Protection law and procedure, and as acting as independent executor provides an invaluable adjunct. The firm has a really robust approach and is not intimidated by difficult opponents. A really great choice for an out of London firm when one has a tricky estate or probate dispute.’

Alan Foster has a wealth of experience and is charming, reassuring, and wise. He is thoroughly steeped in this area and his knowledge of the related areas of divorce and Court of Protection is a real bonus.’

I have valued Alan Foster’s professionalism, compassion, practical guidance, and ability to focus on the “bigger picture”. He has offered clear advice throughout and has been honest in his assessments of the best way forward. Initially, he was able to grasp the details of a very long and complex case without a problem and has consistently produced accurate, excellent draft letters and a successful strategy towards an agreement with the other party. As well as his legal expertise, I have valued his frank assessments and wise counsel.’

Spratt Endicott

Spratt Endicott's practice provides trust and probate services on contentious matters involving complicated large estates, contentious probate matters, and will provisions, as well as non-controversial work in drafting wills and estate administration. Founding partner and practice leader David Endicott focuses on a broad range of high-value and complex probate, will, trust, and charity matters. Shamsher Pangu focuses on complex trust and probate matters such as claims under the Inheritance (Provision of Family and Dependants) Act.

Practice head(s):

Shamsher Pangu

Other key lawyers:

David Endicott

Testimonials

Shamsher Pangu was very patient and explained all procedures clearly, which is very important to people who have limited knowledge of how the legal system works.’

I have had the pleasure of working with several members of Spratt Endicott and have been impressed by the firm’s ethics and transparency.’

Individuals I have interacted with at Spratt Endicott have been open, transparent, and ethical. Advice has been practical, pragmatic, and value-adding.’

Members of the team I have had dealings with have been very helpful and professional in all matters which have been of concern to myself and family. Questions that have been raised by myself have been answered quickly in a manner that was clearly understood.’

I have found Shamsher Pangu to be very helpful in explaining things in language that I can understand, rather than legal jargon.’

Stevens & Bolton LLP

Stevens & Bolton LLP advises both local and international trustees, beneficiaries, and executors on high-value UK trust and estate work, on disputes concerning the validity of wills and trusts, the management and administration of trusts or estates, and disputes regarding deputies or attorneys within the jurisdiction of the court of protection. 'Imaginative and effective' practice head James Lister was made partner in 2019 and is described as a 'rising star'.

Practice head(s):

James Lister

Testimonials

Excellent personal relationships tied with first-class legal knowledge and strategy. A City-level of service with an out of town work environment and without the City price-tag.’

James Lister is the stand-out partner. A rising star in the private client world already, his knowledge is second-to-none, and he combines this with excellent tactical skills. He is great with clients. No doubt a future leader.’

Stevens & Bolton are a very serious player in this field. They are well stocked with seriously clever and astute lawyers, and have the scale and resources to provide a smooth and polished service for cases ranging from small disputes to very heavy litigation. They offer a service that can match (or beat) the major central London firms.

James Lister is a partner specialising in private client and contentious trusts and probate work. An obvious rising star, James is already much in demand. He is very bright and particularly good at coming up with creative and practical solutions to legal problems. He is decisive and not afraid to take a view on the merits and advise accordingly.’

This is an extremely capable team which gives the well-known London firms a run for its money.’

Partner and head of department James Lister is a very experienced litigator who for years has practised exclusively in contentious trusts and probate and has been involved in some of the most important recent cases in the field. As a result, he has developed a knowledge and tactical acumen well beyond that which might be expected of someone of his age.’

James Lister is simply stellar in terms of his ability and tactical acumen. He is very responsive to his clients’ needs and always a pleasure to deal with. He packs a steely fist in a velvet glove. I would highly recommend him to those that I cannot act for due to any conflict of interest.

The Stevens & Bolton team have gone from strength to strength, increasing their profile in the area in recent years and obtaining some fantastic instructions.’

James Lister is the best solicitor in this area practising outside of London. He is without a doubt my go-to regional referral and clients who have been referred to him have sung his praises.’

The team at Stevens & Bolton is very practical at the same time as being well-versed in the law.’

James Lister stands out as an imaginative and effective litigator. He looks set to be at the forefront of private client litigation for the future.’

They provide City-level private client contentious and non-contentious advice in an unstuffy and user-friendly manner and at regional prices. They are now my go-to UK firm.

Taylor Rose TTKW

Taylor Rose TTKW , which recently took over McMillan Williams , acts for charitable non-profit organisations, as well as clients involved in contentious Court of Protection matters. Practice head and recent arrival Sharon Bell and Katie Woodcock work alongside Sarah Arnold, while Giles Hall and Eddie Bell are also part of the team.

Practice head(s):

Sharon Bell

Work highlights

  • Acting for executor siblings in respect of late father’s estate against claims for reasonable financial provision advanced by the late father’s estranged wife..
  • Disputed claim over the validity of a declaration of trust regarding a property interest to be determined under Greek law..
  • Advised on issue regarding estate valued at approximately £2m.

Thomson Snell & Passmore

Thomson Snell & Passmore works on complex and high-value matters relating to contested estates and wills, such as disputes between executors over the validity of wills, applications for the removal of executors, and professional negligence claims relating to estate and trust administration. It is a 'justifiably well-respected' practice, co-led by Nicholas Horton and Monika Byrska, who joined from Anthony Gold in early 2019. Associate Amy Wilford is also highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Horton; Monika Byrska

Other key lawyers:

Amy Wilford

Testimonials

Monika Byrska is brilliant. She is a huge acquisition for the firm. Her profile is increasing year by year.’

An excellent boutique private client practice, a real alternative to the larger and London firms.’

Amy Wilford is highly tenacious with an excellent grasp of detail. She asks exactly the right questions.

Amy Wilford is a very thorough and well-focused lawyer. She has an excellent knowledge of the substantive law, but she also gives practical and commercially sensible advice and she has a very good manner with clients.’

Monika Byrska is a very impressive litigator and fights hard for clients.’

A well-established and justifiably well-respected firm in the region with quality practitioners across the board.’

Amy Wilford is an up-and-coming litigator in this area who is excellent with clients and complex cases.

The practice is increasing in strength with the acquisition of Monika Byrska, who has lots of experience and know-how from her previous firm. Will grow into a formidable team.

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP advises clients on multi-jurisdictional issues relating to estates and trusts, as well as wills that comply with Islamic law and high-value Inheritance Act claims. Team leader Stephanie Walls has expertise advising in relation to disputes involving discretionary trusts, while Richard Portlock acts both for and against trustees. Arshoo Singh has extensive experience in advising both UK and international clients in relation to tax, trusts, and mental capacity issues. Susannah Treherne joined from Slade Legal in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Stephanie Walls

Testimonials

‘A large firm with a well resourced contentious trusts team that is well known in the area.’

‘Stephanie Walls is very clear and focused.’

Blandy & Blandy LLP

Blandy & Blandy LLP represents high-net-worth individuals regarding substantial contested estates and multimillion-pound trusts, including at the High Court. Practice head Philip D’Arcy focuses on resolving disputes in relation to trusts, probate and inheritance matters, including disputed wills, claims to remove executors or trustees, breach of trust cases and Inheritance Act claims.

Practice head(s):

Philip D’Arcy

Work highlights

  • Acting for three grandchildren whose father predeceased them. Their grandfather’s estate was in excess of £12m and is left on a discretionary trust and they are potential beneficiaries. The trustee proposed to wind up the trust by distributing amongst the remaining discretionary beneficiaries.
  • Acting for widow of deceased who had been separated for over 20 years but divorced. A trust fund left to provide her with an income and her to receive 40% of the estate of circa £3.25m. Advised in connection with possible 1975 Act claim, in relation to her interest in the trust fund and in connection with a change of Trustees.
  • Acting for son of deceased who died intestate with estate worth £14m. Widow took out grant and sought to administer the estate without regard to the interests of the other beneficiaries.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

The 'very professional' team at Duncan Lewis Solicitors has expertise in a wide range of contentious probate matters, advising both local and international high-net-worth individuals. A number of members of the team are multilingual, with seven languages shared across three team members. Practice head Caroline Roche is able to advise in relation to claims involving undue influence, fraud, taxable and non-taxable estates, and proprietary estoppel claims.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Roche

Testimonials

Very professional and capable. Easy to contact and easy to arrange a consultation.’

A team providing strength and depth in contentious wills, probate, and inheritance claims.’

Caroline Roche is an excellent practitioner who brings a wealth of experience to contentious probate and Inheritance Act claims. She is forensic in her case analysis and robust in advancing her client’s case. She has an approachable and empathic manner with clients. She is pragmatic and realistic in her approach, able to reach a compromise when necessary but also to fight her client’s corner.’

The team at Duncan Lewis is confident, honest, precise, reliable, skilled in their knowledge, and works hard for a good and positive outcome.’

Griffith Smith LLP

The Brighton-based team at Griffith Smith LLP advises local and national clients on a range of issues relating to contentious wills and trust matters, including proprietary estoppel claims, Inheritance Act planning, and the removal of executors from estates. Practice leader Nadia Cowdrey is experienced in matters such as powers of attorney, probate, and wills and trusts.

Practice head(s):

Nadia Cowdrey

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)

Based in Chesham, the team at IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) is led by the 'excellentAmanda Melton, who acts for charities, farming families, and private individuals on issues such as will and administration disputes, the removal of executors or trustees, and other related matters. She works alongside 'client-friendly and hard-working' solicitor Catherine O’Reilly.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Melton

Other key lawyers:

Catherine O’Reilly

Testimonials

Amanda Melton and Catherine O’Reilly have been very thorough, professional, and efficient throughout the process.’

IBB handle a varied caseload, particularly of probate and succession disputes of moderate to high value, largely in the Home Counties area. They manage the cases very well. They particularly stand out for their proactivity and lateral thinking in terms of finding cost-efficient alternatives to litigation, or to taking litigation to trial. I have been very impressed with the team.’

Amanda Melton is excellent. She thinks outside the box and is always looking out for her clients’ best interests. She also manages to be more organised and contactable than many of her peers.’

‘Catherine O’Reilly is a first-class associate. She is really client-friendly, hard-working, and extremely bright.

Tees Law

Tees Law provides contentious trust and probate advice for South East clients, with a recent increase in advising on challenges to the validity of wills, including cases involving the mental capacity of testators and inheritance disputes regarding step-siblings. Practice leader Caroline Metcalf works on complex litigation involving trust and will disputes and Court of Protection applications concerning the contested appointment of attorneys.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Metcalf

Testimonials

Caroline Metcalf and her close team have always made me feel so at ease. I have had a very traumatic case and Caroline has made sure I have never had any added anxiety. She has always been there for advice and kindness and has been the best advice and guidance. Her team has always been there to back up clerical work efficiently.’

I was more than satisfied with the communication, lucid explanations provided to one as inexperienced in law as myself, and their attention to detail.’

Caroline Metcalf was obviously experienced in the legal aspects of the negotiation that was needed, raised issues that would not have occurred to me, and put me on a secure footing to successfully complete the negotiations in a cordial manner. I would not hesitate to engage her services on a future occasion should the situation demand.’