Personal tax, trusts and probate: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx in South East

B P Collins LLP

B P Collins LLP’s wills, trusts and probate team has a strong reputation for its work with complex cross-border estates. The team is particularly experienced in capital tax planning, often concerning trusts or complex wills and involvement in contentious matters is increasing. Lucy Wood heads the practice. Senior associates Sharon Heselton and Dominic Ibbs are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Wood

Other key lawyers:

Sharon Heselton; Dominic Ibbs


Great team, all work together to ensure the best outcome for the client’.

The art to giving good advice is to keep matters simple and the firm is able to meet clients’ objectives sensibly and without confusing them when the matters at hand are often very complex‘.

I would not look to go elsewhere – everyone I have come across at the firm is approachable, helpful and it is very rare that you have to follow up or chase on anything‘.

Expertise at B P Collins shines through‘.

I have no hesitation in recommending Lucy Wood, a real rising star capable of managing the most complex and involved of estates‘.

Lucy is incredibly professional and knowledgeable. She makes things clear without being patronising, and always remembers the details of our case‘.

I have been most impressed with Sharon Heselton and Dominic Ibbs. Both are competent, thorough and on top of the issues‘.

Dominic Ibbs has that rare quality whereby he gives clients confidence that the advice meets their needs and objectives without any grandstanding or grandiose terminology‘.

Work highlights

  • Assisted a client with a cross-border matter involving a complex estate and dealing with tax issues.
  • Assisted a client with incorporating flexible life interest trusts in their will.

Blaser Mills Law

Aside from offering a full range of private client services, the wills, trusts and probate team at Blaser Mills Law has specialist knowledge in high- value estate planning, estates involving international assets, Court of Protection, trusts, care home and disabled client issues. Minesh Thakrar heads the practice from the Rickmansworth office. Jonathan Gallop and Sarah Ripper in Amersham and Karen Woodison in High Wycombe are other key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Minesh Thakrar


I was made to feel individual and important to them‘.

Minesh Thakkrar and his assistant were always helpful and made themselves available to me whenever possible‘.

Work highlights

  • Acted on the administration of a complex estate to maximise the amount of reliefs and allowances, saving approximately  £100,000 in IHT.
  • Acted on the administration of an estate of a widower who died intestate.
  • Acted on the complex administration of an estate where the original will could not be located
  • Acted on the administration of an estate where at the date of death the deceased was in the process of revising her will to allow her long-time partner to remain in her property for life.
  • Acted in the administration of an estate with international property.

Debenhams Ottaway

The private client department at Debenhams Ottaway assists clients with inheritance tax and estate planning, setting up and administering trusts and probate and estate administration. The team is also experienced in life planning advice, including lasting Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection and professional deputy services, and elderly care including the protection of vulnerable adults. The client base is made up of generations of wealthy families, as well as young professionals, celebrities, entrepreneurs and business owners. Managing partner Susan Glenholme heads the practice. Claire Sharp, Nicholas Turner and senior lawyer Rachel Hyndman are other key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Susan Glenholme

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)’s private client department offers a full range of services across private client, Court of Protection and contentious probate work. The team has strong links with local accountants, financial advisers and social workers who refer work regularly. Personal injury and international work are other areas of strength. The practice is headed by Jacqueline Almond from the Chesham office. Joanna Mills in Chesham and Russell Hallam in Uxbridge are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Almond

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Mills; Russell Hallam


The team is professional competent and organised with an effective support structure in terms of knowledge and experience‘.

They are an excellent regional team, with deep expertise in this area, offering excellent value for money and a real alternative to the major London and metropolitan firms‘.

Jacqueline Almond is absolutely brilliant’. 

Jacqueline Almond brings confidence to her clients that she understands their circumstances and has a solution for their situation‘.

The best accolade I can give is that Jacqueline is the legal expert I recommend to family, friends, and other lawyers‘.


Taylor Walton LLP

The private client team at Taylor Walton LLP is well known in the area for its expertise in working with high-net-worth clients, including business owners, farmers and landed families, often across generations and increasingly across jurisdictions. Investing in home-grown talent, the practice has been growing, with an excellent staff retention rates. Richard Crocker is the practice head. Alison Voyce is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Richard Crocker

Other key lawyers:

Alison Voyce

Key clients

The Lytton Cobbold Family (Knebworth House)

The Daniells Family

The Gibson Family

The Cole Family

The Ramsden Family

The Williams Family

Eddie and Jill Minshull

The Webber Family

The Lloyd Family

The Webster Family

Work highlights

  • Estate planning for a wealthy elderly couple with significant family complications.
  • Advised a local farming family in connection with tax planning and succession issues.
  • Dealing with a complex probate involving unusual technical issues.
  • Dealing with cross-border probate for a non- UK domiciled person.
  • Providing  Deed of Variation to capture future residence nil rate band.

Woodfines LLP

Woodfines LLP’s private client practice is experienced in all kinds of estate work, including complex estate planning, administration of estates on death, inheritance tax and complex trusts. The client base includes high-net-worth individuals, including business owners and directors in the agriculture and rural industries. Stephen Patch heads the practice from the Bedford office. Nigel Ashton and Mikhala Leak are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Patch

Other key lawyers:

Nigel Ashton; Mikhala Leak


Very professional in a pleasant and helpful manner‘.

Very efficient response times and able to explain matters in plain English‘.

Stephen Patch is very approachable and amenable‘.

Stephen Patch has been excellent in providing first rate service and advice in an easily understood manner‘.

Work highlights

  • Advised the trustees of a 1964 will trust and the trustees of two subsequent lifetime discretionary trusts on how to vest the capital in the names of the chosen beneficiaries.
  • Lifetime estate planning advice incorporating the setting up of a lifetime discretionary trust.
  • Advised on estate planning, including a  discretionary trust.
  • Advised on probate administration for separated client who passed away intestate.
  • handled the probate administration of a large private estate.

Crane & Staples LLP

The private client department at Crane & Staples LLP handles a wide range of work, including preparation of wills and lasting powers of attorney, Court of Protection matters, estate administrations and technical tax issues. The practice has long-standing relationships with clients, who largely come from well-established local families. The 'excellentDavid Bird heads the practice and Samantha Webb is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

David Bird

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Webb


I find everyone I have dealt with really professional, understanding and courteous’.

They are a long standing business with considerable expertise across a range of legal issues that may affect people’s lives’.

Long-established and respected firm dedicated to serving the community of Welwyn Hatfield’.

There is a real sense of engagement and of advice being tailored to the client’s grasp of context and possibility’.

As a client I was impressed by their commitment to diversity, which is promoted from the top. This makes me think this must be a great firm to work for’.

Crane & Staples have been refreshingly different and easy to work with’.

David Bird has consistently shown patience and diligence in dealing with our family’s requirements, taking into account all of our concerns’.

Samantha Webb is very professional, personable and efficient’.

Samantha imparted her extensive knowledge to us with respect and good humour’.

Work highlights

  • Instructed in the administration of an intestate estate where the administrator is Finnish domiciled and there are assets in Jamaica.
  • Assisted a client with an opposition to a Court of Protection application to appoint deputies on his behalf.
  • Advised on complex estate administration involving three estates (two partially administered) going back over three decades.
  • Acting for an attorney client challenging local authority funding on behalf of a mother.
  • Advising trustees generally, and in particular on capital gains tax and inheritance tax considerations.


Hewitsons’ private wealth practice has long-standing expertise in trust matters including trust administration and reorganisations and  assistance with foreign assets. It also has comprehensive tax expertise; inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning and income tax returns. The team works closely with rural and charity specialists, and has significant international links. Carolyn Bagley is the main contact in the Milton Keynes office.

Practice head(s):

Carolyn Bagley


Extremely professional, approachable, courteous and knowledgeable in the areas of wills, powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning.’

‘Advice is always presented in a very clear, practical and concise manner.’

‘The strength in depth and breadth of expertise of the team is outstanding.’

‘The team ethos works brilliantly. There is no problem about delegation.’

‘The team are creative in finding solutions to issues (often on non legal matters) I always feel safe with their advice and work.’

‘Probably the most highly qualified team in the area. They are both highly knowledgeable and hugely experienced and that runs through the breadth of the team. From my dealings with them they offer a top class service delivered by genuinely caring people.’

‘In my opinion/experience Hewitsons is top of its class. It has experts in every field.’

‘Hewitsons is outstanding. It is professional, knowledgeable and efficient.’

‘Carolyn Bagley is a master of her subject. Carolyn has demonstrated from the outset that she is able to proactively advise us on options tailored to the personal circumstances of my wife and I. She has often identified issues that we have not considered and advised us how we can deal with them, in a very practical manner. Carolyn helps us to look at the wider picture and consider all the angles, particularly regarding Inheritance Tax planning. Her general approach is always so professional, reassuring and courteous.

‘Carolyn Bagley has fantastic technical knowledge, and a meticulous and methodical approach.’

‘Carolyn Bagley is professional and approachable, always happy to talk through potential cases and issues and has always delivered a first class service.’

‘Carolyn Bagley is a formidable lady but nevertheless kind and thoughtful. She sees matters from every angle and her advice is greatly to be accepted.’

Longmores Solicitors LLP

Longmores Solicitors LLP’s private client department is particularly experienced in advice on inheritance tax and associated taxation consequences, including the creation and administration of lifetime trusts. Clients include individuals and families from the local farming and rural community, as well as local business owners. Working with elder and vulnerable clients is a niche specialism. The practice is headed by Richard Horwood. Senior solicitor Alastair Liddiard is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Richard Horwood

Other key lawyers:

Alastair Liddiard


I have always been impressed by their technical knowledge with regard to legal and tax matters. They are also extremely helpful and provide a fast, efficient service‘.

On the occasions that I have asked for work to be undertaken on very short deadlines, the team has always produced what was needed in the timeframe asked‘.

Focused and effective team delivering advice in a timely and efficient way‘.

I have  found the private client team at Longmores to be the easiest with whom to work based on timeliness and ease of engagement‘.

Richard Horwood is my preferred adviser with regard to trusts and estates. He is very knowledge and helpful‘.

Richard is quick to respond to my queries and the work that he produces is of exceptional quality‘.

Richard Horwood is outstanding. He brings excellent knowledge and a good insight from a ‘real world’ prospective in a calm and effective way‘.

Alastair Liddiard was able to manage the work required and answer queries in a timely and professional manner making what was a difficult time much easier‘.

Key clients

Marjorie MaplethorpeTrust

Arthur Stevens Charitable Trust

The Tappenden Charity

V J Cresswell Will Trust

Eddy Family Settlements

The Walter Wallinger Trust

Robert Wallace Family Trusts

Work highlights

  • Advised client on inheritance tax planning for his multi-million pound estate.
  • Advising client on the administration of the estate and in particular discretionary trusts.
  • Ongoing administration of a multi-million pound trust.
  • Administration of estate of late husband, new will and lasting powers of attorney.
  • Preparation of new will and trust issues following incapacity of spouse.

Machins Solicitors LLP

The private client team at Machins Solicitors LLP caters for a client portfolio which includes Premiership footballers, stars from the music and performing arts industries, high-net-worth business clients and a number of MPs. Practice head Nic Pestell is based in Luton, as is associate Nicki Denton-Masih. The practice is also active in the new Berkhamsted office and is able to offer a full range of services to clients located in the Greater London area.

Practice head(s):

Nic Pestell

Other key lawyers:

Nicki Denton-Masih


They care, they don’t pretend to, they really do put clients first‘.

All of the individuals I have dealings within Machins act with the utmost professionalism whilst at the same time being personable and approachable‘.

The personnel are all very friendly, but give sensible pragmatic advice‘.

They can provide solutions quickly and suggest alternatives where appropriate‘.

Nic Pestel cares greatly about helping without unsettling his probate clients‘.

Nic has always proved to be knowledgeable, professional and approachable‘.

Work highlights

  • Completed major estate administration involving property in Barbados, New York and the UK.

Sherrards Solicitors LLP

Sherrards Solicitors LLP is best known for its internationally focused private client work, which focuses on clients from North America, India, Russia, the Middle East, Spain, France and Germany, among others. The team specialises in wills, estate and tax planning for both domiciled and non-domiciled clients. Complex probate and trust work is also an area of expertise, while economic control and coercion and romance fraud are fields of increasing interest. Senior consultant Nicole Marmor heads the practice. Senior solicitor Donna Payne is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nicole Marmor

Other key lawyers:

Donna Payne


Excellent manner of communication with clients‘.

Excellent service from Nicole Marmor and Donna Payne‘.

Work highlights

  • Acting for the administration of a cross-border taxable estate where the issue of domicile needed to be established.
  • Advising a client who has several successful businesses on inheritance tax (IHT) issues related to how best to pass on his wealth through the use of Wills and trusts.
  • Advising UK domiciled ultra-high net worth individuals in relation to IHT mitigation
  • Advising clients in relation to cross border (English/ French) succession planning.
  • Advising inter-generational family members on succession IHT planning and passing of family business with cross-border (English/ Indian) considerations and in particular domicile.

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP’s wealth protection practice assists high-net-worth clients with shareholder agreements, partnership agreements and cross options, property issues and copyright, royalties and other intellectual property rights. The team has multi-jurisdictional expertise and focuses on a wide range of assets spanning the UK and multiple overseas locations, in particular the US. Charlotte Dunn heads the practice at the national level from the Milton Keynes office.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Dunn


Personable, professional and helpful‘.

Charlotte Dunn  is approachable and straight talking, with first-rate knowledge and experience‘.

Charlotte is very conscientious and thorough and a pleasure to work with‘.

Key clients

Anna-Louise Naylor-Leyland

Ruth Mclean

Jeremy Johnson

Work highlights

  • Acted for client in a claim brought against the estate of the son of Lady Wilton under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Acted for client in bringing a claim against her late husband’s estate.
  • Acted for client in a matter involving complicated arguments in relation to secret trusts, capacity to revoke a will and a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Tees Law

Tees Law’s wills, trusts, tax and probate practice has in-depth expertise in lifetime tax planning, often for high-net-worth individuals, as well as in the administration of complex and high-value estates, particularly those with an international and/or rural dimension. The team also specialises in the administration of multi-million-pound trusts and offers clients combined legal and financial advice through their associated business Tees Legal. The practice is jointly headed by executive senior associates Nicola Havers  and Sarah Walker. Cathy Izzard is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Havers; Sarah Walker

Other key lawyers:

Cathy Izzard 


The lawyers in the private client department at Tees are both knowledgeable and personal, and have an ability to help solve many traumatic family situations by applying legal expertise to resolve complex situations‘.

Tees Law is unique in their efficient, knowledgeable, friendly and approachable qualities‘.

There is a particularly good atmosphere at the Tees offices where staff appear to work extremely well as a team. The feeling is that of a happy, relaxed and efficient workplace‘.

I was very taken and impressed by the personality and friendliness, notwithstanding the professionalism, of Tees Law‘.

Nicola Havers’ commitment to personal service to her clients is excellent, as is her ability to listen with humanity and patience, and provide sensible and successful legal solutions‘.

Sarah Walker is extremely helpful, efficient and attentive‘.

I place the greatest trust in Cathy Izzard for her knowledge and professionalism‘.


Work highlights

  • Dealing with a £4m estate that included property in France, and family business interests and property in the UK.
  • Advising on a trust for 3 beneficiaries containing commercial properties and land.
  • Handling the administration of an estate that includes French assets where double taxation relief is applicable.
  • Handling a complex case involving the purchase of a chalet in the Alps. 
  • Instructed to act for a multi-millionaire on various estate planning matters.