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

B P Collins LLP

B P Collins LLP advises high-net-worth clients on matters relating to complex cross-border estate planning and administration, as well as capital tax planning related to trusts and complex wills. In recent years the team has seen an increase in involvement in contentious matters, frequently collaborating with the wider firm's disputes resolution team on disputes between trustees. Practice leader Lucy Wood is known for her work advising local clients on complex estates and trusts. Probate specialist Sharon Heselton has relevant experience in complex estate administration. Senior associate Dominic Ibbs also comes recommended for his 'modest and genuine approach'.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Wood

Other key lawyers:

Sharon Heselton; Dominic Ibbs

Testimonials

A very approachable team of people that are happy to build strong working relationships. They are also expert and professional.

They are experienced and knowledgeable but don’t throw this at you. They use their knowledge to help you in a calm, supportive way. Lucy Wood and her team are particularly representative of these qualities.’

Lucy Wood is a very good solicitor in her field of probate and trusts. She is diligent and hard working in every aspect of the jobs we ask her to perform.’

The atmosphere in the building and between people is collegiate – with neither a hierarchical style between professionals, nor a detached, distant or clinical style with clients. I have long believed that “small is beautiful” is a hugely under-rated ethos – and relatively speaking this is fully validated in the style of this practice. The practice has decided what its capabilities should be, and has committed itself to ensuring that excellence is a hallmark of both its knowledge and experience in these fields.’

The team are all approachable “real people” and very knowledgeable in their fields. They make dealing with them easy which is a big plus for any professional.’

Friendly, approachable and understandable. Lucy Wood and Sharon Heselton stand out.’

Lucy Wood heads the team and is a confident speaker at client presentations. Sharon Heselton builds long-lasting client relationships. Clients trust her and her recommendations.’

My daughter is Dominic Ibbs’ client – she is disabled, with mild cerebral palsy. Only recently, thanks to the way Dominic speaks to her in plain English, going out of his way to explains things, has she now attended meetings on her own. This is wholly down to Dominic being modest and genuine in his approach and easy company.’

Blaser Mills Law

Operating out of offices in Amersham and High Wycombe, Blaser Mills Law provides the full range of private client services, ranging from high-value estate planning, advice on international assets, Court of Protection matters, and care home issues. Head of the wills, trusts, and probate department Jonathan Gallop is highly regarded, while Minesh Thakrar deals with the preparation of wills and enduring powers of attorney, especially regarding the elderly. Karen Woodison has expertise in dealing with complex Court of Protection matters, probate, and administrating high-value-estates with foreign assets.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Gallop

Testimonials

Highly professional, 100% clear on all process and communications, and 100% accurate on all costs.’

Jonathan Gallop is extremely professional – he also showed a high level of empathy on what was an emotional and stressful task for me. He walked me though everything, he costed everything 100% accurately, and did everything exactly on plan. Totally dispelled any myths that I may have had about solicitors. Highly recommended.’

I have used Blaser Mills for a number of different reasons and each person I have dealt with has been excellent. They provide a very personal service, but retain the professionalism required. They make a complex subject as easy as it can be and I have total faith in what advice they have provided.’

Jonathan Gallop set up new wills for myself and my wife last year. For the first time I really understand what my will means and how it protects our family. Jonathan is a very good communicator and I have in turn recommended him to friends and clients of my own.’

Although the practice has several offices and a number of legal associates working there, the treatment I experienced felt personal and tailored to my requirements. In my experience, this is not always the case in a practice that is any larger than a ‘one man band’ set up.’

Minesh Thakrar listened to my requirements, making suggestions where appropriate and pointing out considerations that I may have not thought of myself. I felt he understood me as a client as well as being able to provide the service I needed. He was approachable and I felt put at ease.’

Debenhams Ottaway

The personal tax, trust, and probate team at Debenhams Ottaway advises high-net-worth clients in  Hertfordshire and London on matters such as inheritance tax and estate planning, probate, the setting up and administration of trusts, and general lifetime planning. In recent years, it has seen an expansion of its client base to include young professionals, local business owners and entrepreneurs. Practice co-head Susan Glenholme specialises in private wealth management, while fellow co-heads Claire Sharp and Nicholas Turner have experience in wills and tax planning. Rachel Hyndman is a key contact.

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Hyndman

Testimonials

Knowledgeable and friendly, with unprecedented professionalism.’

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)

The Uxbridge-based team at IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) regularly advises both local and non-domiciled clients on powers of attorney, personal injury trusts, and applications to the Court of Protection. As leader of the wills, trusts, and probate team in Chesham and Uxbridge, Jacqueline Almond specialises in estate planning, with particular expertise in estates with domicile issues or foreign assets. Joanna Mills has experience in estate and lifetime tax planning, while Russell Hallam provides financial and planning advice.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Almond

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Mills; Russell Hallam

Testimonials

They are efficient, knowledgeable and deliver a London- service at out-of-London prices.’

IBB has one of the most knowledgeable teams that I come into contact with – they don’t do things because that’s the way it has always been done; they think about the merits of each case and circumstances and then challenge their own preconceived ideas. This leads to a much better client outcome that some of their peers. Second, to quality their other desirable attribute is their timeliness. With some firms you wait for ages for a simple reply, IBB turn things around very efficiently.

Joanna Mills is exceptional. Not only is she highly qualified but, in shared client meetings, she explains things in a clear and eloquent way and shows and enthusiasm for her client that few can match. Their associate team is very good and provide a great supporting function which is invaluable.’

Jacqueline Almond provides a very friendly and approachable service to clients. She is technically very knowledgeable and has provided me with technical advice relating to her areas of expertise.’

Jacqueline Almond has been fantastic – she has provided support and advice in a clear, concise, empathetic manner.’

Sherrards Solicitors LLP

Sherrards Solicitors LLP's private client work has a notable international element, advising domiciled and non-domiciled clients with interests across North America, Europe, and Asia. The team has a strong track record in preparing wills, estate planning, the re-sealing of foreign grants, and offshore, discretionary, and charitable trusts. In recent years, the practice has sharpened its focus on providing legal protection for vulnerable adults and children. 'Transparent and very trustworthy' senior consultant Nicole Marmor is an expert in cross-border issues related to the preparation of wills for non-domiciled clients or clients with multi-jurisdictional assets. Senior solicitor Donna Payne focuses on mediation and resolution concerning economic coercion/control. Senior solicitor Nicole Edmonson and partner Elizabeth Jones both joined from Teacher Stern LLP in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

Nicole Marmor

Other key lawyers:

Donna Payne

Testimonials

They provide top quality technical advice and solutions with the highest quality client service and empathy. This sets them apart from other firms we have dealt with.’

They are both professional and personable. We regularly to refer our clients to Sherrards for wills, trust, and probate issues – both Nicole Marmor and Donna Payne provide our mutual clients with first-class advice and service. We have received nothing but praise for them from the clients we have referred.’

I have experienced excellent service with Sherrards from various team members and they have always had a welcoming open door for me and my family. Sherrards respond in a timely manner to my calls and dialogue on each occasion they have been appointed. I believe Sherrards try and take steps to improve their services all the time, and possibly even before they are asked to by their clients.’

From the first time I met with Nicole Marmor and appointed her for legal work, she has been my first go-to person of choice, her efficiency on preparation, of documentation is of a high standard. Nicole is a transparent and very trustworthy individual and you need this in someone when you are putting your family’s affairs in their hands. With her wonderful mannerism, friendliness, and honesty, I would not hesitate to ask Nicole and her team for their services again going forward.’

Sherrards Solicitors have been my family’s solicitor in St Albans for very many years. We have always been very satisfied with the service received. They offer a very efficient service for wills, power of attorney, and house sales/purchases. A pleasure to deal with whether in person, over the phone or by email. All my recent requirements fulfilled without any delay.’

Sherrards are a professional, modern, and forward-looking entity. Their approach to clients is inviting, friendly, and supportive.

Shoosmiths LLP

The private client team at Shoosmiths LLP has recently incorporated the firm's disputed wills and trust team into its remit, increasing collaboration within both teams in respect of high-net-worth clients, which include celebrities, sports personalities, business directors, and entrepreneurs in the technology sector. It advises on areas such as shareholder agreements, real estate transactions, IP matters, and partnership agreements. National head of wealth protection Charlotte Dunn is experienced in providing financial planning advice and also acts as litigation friend on high-value personal injury matters. Stephen Patch has joined the practice from Woodfines LLP.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Dunn

Testimonials

Very knowledgeable, approachable and friendly. My experience of the team is great. They are all very down to earth people.’

Efficient and reliable – calls were made when expected.’

The solicitor was well-informed, explained the process in accessible language and detail. Polite, reliable, and efficient. I felt confident that he would complete the work in the time scale he stated. Trustworthy.’

Great client service, very knowledgeable and very easy to talk to.’

Key clients

Blue Cross

Cancer Research UK

Cat Protection

RSPCA

Help for Heroes

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Taylor Walton LLP

Located in St Albans, Taylor Walton LLP advises business owners, landed families, and farmers on both local and multi-jurisdictional matters relating to wills, estate planning, probate, trusts, and powers of attorney. Head of the private client department Alex Drake advises on tax planning, probate, and wills and estate planning, while Alison Voyce deals with complex and high-value trust and probate cases. Steve Hamilton is also recommended. Former practice head Richard Crocker has now retired.

Practice head(s):

Alison Voyce; Alex Drake

Other key lawyers:

Steve Hamilton

Testimonials

The personal interaction is excellent; you are made to feel very comfortable. There is a family feeling at this firm and I am very happy to refer my clients in the knowledge that they will be well looked after.’

Alison Voyce and Steve Hamilton have been a well-oiled machine for many years, working well together and independently when required. They are extremely competent and relate complex legal matters clearly in an understandable manner. My clients have always feedback positive comments following their interactions with Alison and Steve.’

We have been very impressed with all our dealings with Taylor Walton. Everyone we dealt with was helpful and pleasant, which is really important with probate matters.’

Steven Hamilton is absolutely superb. He is always accessible and gives sensible, intelligible and practical advice. Steven is friendly but still very professional, kind and very efficient – in short, just the kind of person you want to be dealing with when you are trying to negotiate the complexities of probate law. I always felt that he was there as a giver of sage advice, and he took the worries I had about it all away.’

Work highlights

  • Estate planning for a married couple with complex business and property affairs.
  • Advised on and prepared a complex will for the leader of a successful band with substantial assets in the USA, UK, and Spain.

Crane & Staples LLP

A 'dynamic and effective team' based in central Hertfordshire, Crane & Staples LLP advises longstanding local clients on a range of issues, such as technical and complex tax and estate issues, Court of Protection matters, and the establishment and management of trusts. It has also expanded its online-accessible work involving lasting powers of attorney and wills. Practice leader David Bird deals with complicated matters relating to high-value estates and tax matters. Samantha Webb is a 'stand-out solicitor', specialising in matters such as declarations of trust, inheritance tax, and administrating complex and high-value estates.

Practice head(s):

David Bird

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Webb

Testimonials

Crane & Staples have established an effective collaborative environment, demonstrating strong and effective communications, service and support tailored to client requirements, high standards of output, and total professionalism. Additionally, a notable aspect to the way Crane & Staples conduct business is the effectiveness of the client support, the support team and receptionists, who all work together to ensure the effective and efficient running of the practice.’

‘A stand-out strength of Crane & Staples is an ability to work as a dynamic and effective team.’

Samantha Webb is a stand-out solicitor. She is an extremely bright and effective lawyer, with an ability to quickly assimilate large quantities of information and make sound, concise, pertinent, and reasoned judgements when advising clients. Samantha has an exceptional knowledge and clear understanding of a wide range of legal matters, which can only be gained by experience, study and professionalism. She has shown exceptional leadership, professional qualities and original thought. A great ambassador for Crane & Staples.’

With Crane & Staples it is a natural process, and very easy, to establish a personal relationship with one’s solicitor. The result is a supporting partnership, built upon understanding, knowledge, and strength.’

Very professional. They are quick to understand issues and offer sound advice.’

Personal, friendly, and excellent service and attention.’

Very prompt and professional. Thorough in questions and advice. Went above and beyond to accommodate our special request. Made us feel at ease and looked-after.’

They are a very professional firm which at the same time maintains a sense of individuality to their clients.

All of the family law team are friendly, professional and personable to work with.

Crane & Staples is a firm that offers not only the professionalism that one would expect from a law firm but also the depth of coverage that gives confidence in the continuity that they provide. In effect, the sense of continuity goes beyond client knowledge and extends to peer appreciation within the firm.’

David Bird has consistently demonstrated an ability to gain a rapid appreciation of client requirements and to articulate advice in helpful terms that the layman can understand easily. This has proved invaluable in arriving at effective solutions relating to the financial management of family affairs.’

Work highlights

  • Advised on the administration of a high-value estate valued at over £2m.
  • Advised on the estate administration of joint estates totalling over £1.5m and executing deeds of variation to bring about discretionary trusts for infant grandchildren.

HCR Hewitsons

The private client team at HCR Hewitsons specialises in advising both local and international clients on a broad range of areas, including inheritance tax planning, wills, trust reorganisation, and the administration of complex estates. Members of the team frequently collaborate with teams from other practice areas to provide a fully integrated service. Practice leader Carolyn Bagley is 'very experienced' in matters such as inheritance tax planning, trust reorganisation, and capacity issues relating to wills and lifetime gifts. Partner Kerri Pellington-Woodrow joined in January 2020 from Greenwoods GRM.

Practice head(s):

Carolyn Bagley

Testimonials

Professional, expert, customer focused and approachable. Carolyn Bagley’s expertise on managing private clients wealth and providing services that ensure clients affairs at the end of life are managed in a tax efficient way. Always available to answer questions and queries.’

I have worked with many of the team on a variety of cases. Carolyn Bagley is my main contact: she is obsessive about service to the client and always puts client needs, objectives, and concerns ahead of anything else.’

Excellent communication skills in explaining difficult technical concepts. Very good practical advice to solve difficult problems. Very good up to date technical ability. Attention to detail is excellent and they have a co-ordinated approach. Good listeners and strength in depth. Timely advice and responses.’

Carolyn Bagley displays team skills and is exceptionally good at making clients feel at ease and translating technical jargon into practical, common sense and an in understandable format.’

Their technical skills are outstanding. They respond promptly and are very efficient. Carolyn Bagley is very experienced and knowledgeable. She is also an extremely nice person who is easy to deal with.’

Very experienced and knowledgeable private client team compromising many talented individuals. Carolyn Bagley has excellent technical knowledge and an analytical approach. She possess the ability to explain complex legal issues in simple terms to clients.’

This practice is efficient, practical, experienced, very client orientated and unique in my experience. The whole organisation rolls out smoothly like a well oiled machine and seems to be able to call upon an expert in every field of legal requirement.’

My experience of Carolyn Bagley has shown her to be hard working, professional, meticulous, informed and courteous.

Longmores Solicitors LLP

The team at Longmores Solicitors LLP focuses primarily on providing advice to members of the farming and rural community in Hertford regarding the preparation of wills and trusts, the administration of trusts and estates, and inheritance tax matters. Court of Protection matters and associated areas regarding capacity are also areas of expertise in the practice. Practice leader Richard Horwood is considered 'very diligent' as a professional executor and attorney, while Alastair Liddiard is highly valued for his work in complex trusts and estates.

Practice head(s):

Richard Horwood

Other key lawyers:

Alastair Liddiard

Testimonials

Richard Horwood is extremely good. Very diligent, knowledgeable, and experienced. Pretty much the consummate private client solicitor and thoroughly recommended.’

As a firm, they are well-regarded; they invest in their company in both personnel and technology with a strategy to grow.’

The team are all professional, diligent, and they care about their clients. They seem to have the capacity and knowledge to deal with high-net-worth clients and the complex issues which come with such individuals and families. I often come away from a meeting having learnt about the latest changes in their field of expertise.’

They have been operating for many years in Hertford and have built up a fantastic reputation. I do a lot of work with Alastair Liddiard; he is extremely knowledgeable and very professional. He goes the extra mile to ensure everyone receives the very best advice and is well looked after.’

I have been satisfied with the service I have received. The professionalism Richard Horwood has shown is of a very high standard.’

Key clients

Marjorie Maplethorpe Trust

Arthur Stephens Charitable Trust

The Tappenden Charity

V J Cresswell Will Trust

Robert Wallace Family Trust

Eddy Family Settlements

Machins Solicitors LLP

Entering its centenary year, Machins Solicitors LLP has built a practice in Luton that works with high-profile clients across the South East, including MPs, sports stars, music artists, and high-net-worth individuals, advising on all manner of issues, including new practice areas such as GDPR compliance. Practice leader Nic Pestell advises high-net-worth clients on trusts and tax planning, as well as wills and trust structures. 'A true asset', associate solicitor Nicki Denton-Masih is highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nic Pestell

Other key lawyers:

Nicki Denton-Masih

Testimonials

They make a great effort to understand their client’s needs. Nic Pestell particularly cares for his clients with empathy.’

They have a unique way of making all our business with them very personal. Both Nicki Denton-Masih and her aide know us well and have always dealt with our business in a very prompt manner. They also give us frequent updates. Other firms are nowhere up to their standard.’

Nicki Denton-Masih has always dealt with us and her work makes it easy to talk to her.

The members have the ability to listen and communicate, in often very personal and private circumstances. True desire to assist clients to reach a realistic outcome.’

Nic Pestell is simply the best probate lawyer I have ever met. He is both knowledgeable and practical in a non-condescending way. Nicki Denton-Masih is knowledgeable and mature beyond her years; so keen to be of genuine service, and bursting at the seems to help. Good sound advice flows, only after extracting all the relevant information. A true asset.’

The private client team at Machins handle family matters with care and sensitivity whilst explaining matters clearly.’

Nic Pestell always deals with clients professionally, but at the same time sensitively.

In our dealings with the firm we have been treated with courtesy and the staff have always been friendly and helpful. They have acted for us for many years.’

We have primarily dealt with Nicki Denton-Masih and she has always been very careful to explain clearly what our options are when dealing with our wills and the lasting powers of attorney recently. Nicki has been very kind and it means a lot that there is a human face to deal with.

Work highlights

  • Major estate administration completed involving property in Barbados, New York, and the UK.
  • Established several significant property trust structures.
  • Advised a high-profile athlete and his partner on the formation of wills.

Tees Law

Based in Bishop's Stortford, the team in the personal tax, trusts, and probate practice at Tees Law has experience dealing with all aspects of client work, including lifetime tax planning for high-net-worth individuals, administrating complex and high-value estates, and advising on multi-million-pound trusts and charities. Executive senior associates Nicola Havers and Sarah Walker jointly lead the practice; they are known for their work on property matters and wills and estate planning. Cathy Izzard is an expert in the complex relations between French and English law.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Havers; Sarah Walker

Other key lawyers:

Cathy Izzard

Testimonials

The firm has always been friendly and approachable, professional yet personal in their manner towards clients. They work in a timely manner, too.’

I have worked with Cathy Izzard and her team: she is helpful, professional, and always acted in my best interests. She says things clearly and precisely and has supported me a great deal.

We have been with Tees for thirty years. They have always been very helpful.’

Tees Law has managed to move with the times but still retains the personal touch of the trusted family solicitor. As a family, we have had a lengthy relationship with the practice over four generations, dealing mainly in property, limited company, personal trusts, and probate matters.’

I have dealt with Nicola Havers as executor on probate matters and as a trustee for a family trust. – she operates with calmness, tact, and diplomacy. Nicola is an efficient case manager. She brings in additional specialist advisers at the appropriate stages to supplement her own advice.’

What is important to me about Tees Law is that Tees provides both legal and financial services, and that they appear to do this in a way that is joined-up. It is a local firm that is large enough for me to feel confident in the expertise and experience the firm can bring to bear on an issue, but not so large that my modest requirements would appear of little consequence or interest to the firm. I would also regard one of its strengths as being an approachable, friendly, and generally efficient firm.’

I have always found this firm to be helpful and very professional when I have had to make an appointment with them. They make you feel like a friend who wants to give the best advice possible from the moment you go through their doors and then directing you to the person who can best help and advise on your needs.’

The team at Tees takes the time to explain what will happen and making sure l understood the process. They kept me updated without me having to contact them. After the meetings, l was happy l had a good grasp of what was a complicated legal request.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for the trustees of a charitable trust for more than 20 years. The charitable fund currently stands at approximately £30m.
  • Instructed to prepare English and French wills to advise on the inheritance tax and succession law position for both the UK and France for clients with combined estates worth approximately £3.5m.

Woodfines LLP

The Milton Keynes-based private client practice at Woodfines LLP advises high-net-worth individuals and business directors on all matters of estate work, including inheritance tax, complex trusts, the administration of estates, and general complex estate planning. Nigel Ashton is an expert on legal matters involving mental capacity and the elderly, while Mikhala Leak administrates estates and advises on inheritance tax planning.

Other key lawyers:

Nigel Ashton; Mikhala Leak

Testimonials

They offer an excellent service ideal for my needs as a private client – the best I have worked with for a long time.’

This team never shy away from work that is out of the ordinary or difficult. They love to find solutions, recognise achievements, and they have the fresh eager attitude that goes with it. They can be spontaneous, don’t allow estate administration work to fester like some teams, and also value opportunities to connect their professional contacts with each other.

Great level of expert personal service tailored to your own individual needs. Very professional attitude and level of advice absolutely honed to what is required.’