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Personal tax, trusts and probate: Essex in South East

Birkett Long LLP

Emma Clarke  and Ben Parmenter, both of who are Solicitors for the Elderly members, are joined by wills expert Claire Read in heading Birkett Long LLP's personal tax, trusts and probate team. Notable for its expertise in long-term care planning, the firm also handles trust administration, as well as issues relating to non-disclosure of income, capital gains tax and estate planning (with an emphasis on high-net-worth individuals and farming dynasties). In particular, its bespoke approach is recognised for employing 'forensic grade' analysis, drawing on in-house specialisms in all areas of tax law. Colchester-based Amanda Smallcombe is another key name to note.

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Smallcombe


Professional and knowledgeable‘.

We have always found the firm very knowledgeable, competent and pleasant to deal with. They always go out of their way to explain everything to you and check your understanding‘.

Very strong product knowledge in probate. Team members support each other so that a helpful contact is always available‘.

Everything is explained in great detail – they are most pleasant, affable and helpful‘.

Having worked with Claire Reed since 2008, I have always found her to be very knowledgeable in relation to my specific legal requirements. She is a very pleasant and well mannered lady, with a strong personality. She will go that little bit extra, to ensure you have complete faith and understanding of the legal minefield‘.

Claire Read offers a very personal, friendly, knowledgeable and efficient service, in which I have total confidence‘.

Have worked with Claire Read. She is very well informed about our issues, very helpful in suggesting and explaining things to improve our situation. Also, she is incredibly approachable and sympathetic – you feel you can ask her anything and get an understanding response‘.

Emma Clarke has been the constant for me ; she has been very understanding, flexible and amenable. I was touched that she personally attended my aunt’s funeral having worked with her for a few years following my uncle’s death‘.

Birketts LLP

The personal tax, trusts and probate team at Birketts LLP is based in Chelmsford. Led by Tim Galloway (who handles both UK and international matters), it can assist non-resident as well as non-domiciled parties. As such, it is available for multi-jurisdictional estate work, an area where it is known for serving accountancy, banking and finance clients, as well as succession planning for business owners. Senior associates Susan Young and Katie Payne are recommended for deeds of variation and trusts.

Practice head(s):

Tim Galloway

Other key lawyers:

Susan Young; Katie Payne


Birketts have great in-depth knowledge surrounding trusts, which are by their very nature complex. The individuals that I have contact with are always polite and punctual with their advice and always accurate. I have no hesitation in recommending them if I am asked who we deal with for advice as professional trustees and often do, confident that they will deliver for any third parties who I pass their way‘.

Expert knowledge and, above all else, dependability. You can always depend them to deliver what you have asked for‘.

I was impressed by the personalised nature with which the initial introduction and was received, assessed, quote agreed and delivery managed by the individual responsible for the body of core advice‘.

I was impressed by the personalised response and ownership taken by Susan Young, once the work had been passed across to her. She was proactive at every turn and most importantly shared her movements (e.g. annual leave in advance) so that information exchanges were proactively managed so as not to undermine delivery efficiencies‘.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

The personal tax, trusts and probate team at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP is led by Susanne Grimwade. With more than 20 years' experience, she is a member of key institutions such as Solicitors for the Elderly and the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners. The firm is adept at handling cases involving sizeable estates and can pursue complex Court of Protection work. In addition, it provides specialist advice on long-term care planning, deferred payment agreements and general attorney services. Notably, the firm offers free wills (with online options) in return for a charitable donation. Andrea Godfrey and Amy Burton are recommended.

Practice head(s):

Susanne Grimwade

Other key lawyers:

Andrea Godfrey; Amy Burton


‘I have dealt with Fisher Jones Greenwood for many years, but have recently had to call on them after the sad loss of a family member. Everything is dealt with in a professional manner and explained including all the related costs etc. They always reply to your emails and calls promptly. They are very knowledgeable and approachable and answer any questions or issues you may have. A very professional firm.’

‘Susanne Grimwade has been excellent in all the dealings we have had with her in the past two years, sorting out the probate for our father, and now our mother. She has been compassionate and caring but also efficient in sorting the estates out.’

‘Our major contact was Amy Burton. Amy dealt with everything to do with our business. Everything Amy did was perfect and produced on time and to a very high standard. We could not fault anything Amy did for us.’

‘Lauren Hancock was the solicitor who dealt with my late father’s estate and I was the executor. This was very daunting for me as I had never done this before and I was grieving. Lauren was very professional and friendly, she has empathy and I felt I could call her at any time for advice and nothing would be to much for her to help me with. I felt that the whole practice had strong family and community values.

‘Lauren Hancock has provided an exceptional service, from our first meeting to discuss my mother’s estate. Lauren’s manner, communication and skills have been second to none and I would not hesitate to recommend her to friends and family.’

‘They are extremely efficient and caring. Always polite on the phone and as helpful as they can be.’

‘Everyone I spoke to at the practice took their time to talk and explain things to me.’

‘Since my late husband died I have had sympathy and support from this firm which has helped a lot at a difficult time.’

Key clients

Marie Anne Noeleen Haywood

Nigel Richards

John Sandham

Ralph Brooker

Work highlights

  • Advised on a Deed of Variation  to create a Vulnerable Beneficiary Trust and an Interest in Possession trust. These resulted in more favourable IHT and income tax treatment of the Trust assets for the ultimate beneficiaries.
  • Acted for a multi-jurisdictional estate involving assets in the UK and Australia. A Deed of Variation was created to maximise tax advantages for the beneficiaries.
  • Administered an estate where the beneficiaries were estranged siblings. This included settling a dispute regarding the sale of land with development potential.

Giles Wilson LLP

Giles Wilson LLP's private team covers various tax, trust and probate matters, securing much work as a result of referrals or conflict of interest. Specifically, it provides specialisms in dementia cases (solicitor Kirsty Buxton is a registered Dementia Champion) as well as legal assistance for vulnerable persons. In addition, team lead Melinda Giles sits on Mencap's Panel of Solicitors and stands as an accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly. Pippa Bavington & Caroline Woodham are both members of the Society of Trusts & Estate Pracitioners and are recommended for lasting powers of attorney and will preparation.

Practice head(s):

Melinda Giles


I found the team very helpful and professional. If I did not understand something, they explained it to me in a layman terms. I was updated on the progress of my case in a timely manner‘.

Melinda Giles has a wide experience of dealing with the complex and more unusual cases and is a very safe set of hands to send people to who may find speaking to a solicitor intimidating‘.


The private client team at Palmers provides the full range of traditional wills and probate services. In addition, the offering advises on contentious matters as well as complex claims relating to the Inheritance Act. Notably, the practice also caters for cases characterised by residential care issues, an area specifically handled by partner Helen Jago. Led by Basildon-based Lee McClellan, a lawyer with significant experience in  disputes over elderly or deceased individuals, it also features STEP member Tim Steele and recent hire Donna Smy.

Practice head(s):

Lee McClellan; Tim Steele

Other key lawyers:

Helen Jago; Donna Smy


This practice is unique because it comprises a number of specialist teams and the level of technical knowledge and efficiency is much greater than those provided by other local firms of solicitors‘.

The team is united, backing up and standing in for each other as required. This gives the apparently seamless service to clients and other professionals‘.

I have worked with Palmers Solicitors for many years and their willingness to work alongside other disciplines in order to achieve the best outcome for their clients has always impressed me‘.

Good communication all round. Realistic views and easy to understand‘.

The individuals that I have dealings with stand out as they always come across as friendly and efficient. In addition to that the attention to detail that is given on a variety of issues is exceptional‘.

Professionalism from start to finish. Knowledge offered unsolicited gives an impression of being ahead of the game‘.

Have known some of the team for a number of years so feel confident in their hands for all business and personal matters‘.

Tees Law

Ian Johnston and Nicola Healy lead the personal tax, trusts and probate team at Tees Law. In light of the 2019 merger with Wortley Byers, it has now established itself as one of the largest private client practices in the region, and can handle complex work for high-net-worth individuals, including succession planning and major agricultural disputes. It is also notable for a costing structure which includes fixed fees for probate advice and bespoke pricing on wills creation. Oli Budino is known for his experience with dementia cases while John Southan specialises in property for trusts, estates and attorneys.

Practice head(s):

Ian Johnston; Nicola Healy

Other key lawyers:

John Southan; Oli Budino


The team at Tees Law provide a professional and personal service to the clients we refer. Over the years they have demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of personal and estate law, which we feel provides a significant benefit to both ourselves and our clients. They are also an invaluable resource of technical information, which we often need to call upon in the course of our work‘.

I have found the staff of Tees Law to be professional and highly responsive. It is clear that they care deeply about their clients’ needs and delivering a first class service‘.

We’ve been with Tees 30 years. They have always been very helpful‘.

Excellent knowledge and service‘.

Ian Johnston is extremely reliable and prompt in responding. He listens to clients requests and then provides bespoke solutions. Very good service‘.

All of the private client team provide an outstanding service but we would single out Nicola Healy and John Southan for special mention. Both are quick to respond to our queries and have been supportive of client events we have hosted over the years. We are confident when referring clients to them that they will provide clear, concise and unbiased legal advice. We can’t fault them‘.

Thompson Smith and Puxon

Preparation of wills, administration of estates and enduring powers of attorney are all handled by the 'diverse and knowledgeable' personal tax, trusts and probate team at Thompson Smith and Puxon. In addition, it provides specialist legal advice to the friends and family of the elderly, particularly in relation to Court of Protection applications. Team leader Fiona Ashworth is a specialist in the agricultural sector and is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. Solicitors Aileen Hirst and Sarah White are accredited members of Solicitors for the Elderly while Robert Ashworth is recommended for succession planning, with an emphasis on farming clients.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Ashworth


The team has a great breadth of experience, both in terms of legal matters and dealing with the emotive aspects that often comes with the private client matters they have to deal with‘.

A diverse and knowledgeable team in who provide a first class service to their clients. They are always available either by phone or email to assist or even just to confirm a quick query which is an invaluable resource‘.

The team is highly knowledgeable and experienced. Every member of the team is approachable and caring towards their clients. The depth and breath of knowledge and experience across the team sets it apart from other firms‘.

Unique depth of understanding of farming families. My family have never dealt with another firm‘.

Fiona Ashworth has enormous experience in dealing with a range of clients but in particular those from an agricultural background and the elderly. She is passionate about her work and providing the best for her clients. She is willing to go the extra mile and truly cares about her clients‘.

Aileen Hirst is a calm and considerate private client lawyer who treats all her clients as individuals and tailors her service to them. She provides well thought out and researched advice in an easy to understand format‘.

Robert Ashworth was always available to answer my queries either by telephone, email or in person. I never had to wait long for a response and he always seemed to be up to speed with the situations which arose. I would definitely have confidence to use him again and to recommend him to friends‘.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors

Andrew Flannagan leads the personal tax, trusts and probate team at Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors. As a member of the Law Society's Probate Section, he is known for administering the more complex and challenging side of estates. In light of the merger with Stafford Jones, the firm has taken on one new partner, handing it greater capacity to handle matters including onshore trusts, inheritance, capital gains and income tax. In Harlow, Lesley-Ann Mayhew specialises in the drafting of wills and Court of Protection work.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Flannagan

Other key lawyers:

Lesley-Ann Mayhew

Ellisons Solicitors

Ellisons Solicitors manage all areas of tax and estate planning, trust and probate administration, as well as wills. The group has a 'traditional' family solicitor approach and caters to a longstanding client base of high-net-worth individual and local companies. Clacton-based associate Gina Westbrook is a key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Tim Logan; Chloe Baldwin

Other key lawyers:

Gina Westbrook

Jefferies Essex LLP

Based in Southend on Sea, Gill Tobin leads the personal tax, trusts and probate team at Jefferies Essex LLP. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, she covers a broad range of matters including wills drafting and lasting powers of attorney. More broadly, the practice has grown significantly since the acquisition of Conway & Conway in 2018, resulting in significant expansion of the firm's executor work. Other services available are grant of probate and advice on estate administration. Names to note include Philip Conway and Amelia Hayes.

Practice head(s):

Gill Tobin

Other key lawyers:

Philip Conway; Amelia Hayes


All work is carried out efficiently and professionally. Jefferies has always been our first choice for dealing with needs‘.

An excellent service with plenty of back-up across the board. A sympathetic approach to matters, especially bereavement and the aftermath‘.

Personal, friendly assistance in time of personal distress‘.

I cannot fault Gill Tobin in any way. On the occasion when Gill was not available, her team covered with no reduction in the excellent service provided‘.

Couldn’t ask for more. Kind but professional and competent‘.

The solicitor handling my case is Gill Tobin. Where I do not understand certain legal implications or interpretation of terms or their meaning, she clarifies precisely and promptly. I find her very amenable and friendly, I appreciate her factuality, efficiency and patience’. 

Work highlights

  • Represented client in relation to a complex intestacy with a beneficial interest in an earlier unadministered estate.
  • Administrated two estates for a mother and son who died in quick succession. Mother left a will and son died intestate. Deed of Variation subsequently issued.
  • Carried out full administration of an estate (including winding up a life interest trust and income tax affairs).

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

Wills, estate administration and lasting powers of attorney are all catered for by the private team at Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP. In addition, clients can benefit from the firm's experience in Court of Protection work, with team head Lee Hibell and Caroline Cole particularly recommended. Notably, the firm recently opened a new office in Stratford in order to complement its existing outlets in Westcliff, Billericay and Benfleet.

Practice head(s):

Lee Hibell

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Cole


The team, in particular Lee Hibell, are outstanding, and are always available for clients to be able to speak with them‘.

Hard working, always available, great manner with clients, complete estates on time and without delay‘.

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Matthew Edwards leads the personal tax, trusts and probate team at Pinney Talfourd LLP, which includes four full members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, as well as one member of Solicitors for the Elderly - estate specialist Kristian Croad. Areas of expertise include trust administration, Court of Protection work and managing the financial affairs of missing people.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Edwards

Other key lawyers:

Kristian Croad


The team has a personal touch and makes you feel valued as an individual client, providing tailored guidance and up to date legal information about legal developments‘.

Excellent advice and guidance in respect of our probate and first land registry requirements. Kept updated at all times on documentary needs and timescales. They are also transparent with costs‘.

Initial contact excellent – friendly, helpful, accommodating. Great communication and went out of their way to make meeting times and venues as easy as possible and convenient for us. Every step explained well, always receptive to any questions and queries and these were answered promptly. Very patient when we failed to grasp some of the legal side and always happy to explain and re-explain. Work done quickly and very efficiently and excellent presentation‘.

I my experience I found the company professional on all levels, all the people I met from the front desk up to our solicitors were courteous and helpful. Everything we needed to know regarding all aspects of the process was explained to us during this difficult time‘.

Matthew Edwards has provided exceptional support during difficult times over the years. His is very personable and trustworthy. We value his service and our business relationship very highly and would highly recommend him and his firm‘.

I work closely with Matthew Edwards. I hugely value his attention to detail and technical knowledge. But more importantly, his ability to empathise with clients and anticipate their needs‘.

Kristian Croad was very helpful. Explained everything very clearly. Never rushed me and was very thorough‘.

Kristian Croad is a very friendly, knowledgeable person who gave us great service‘.

Rainer Hughes

The private client team at Rainer Hughes is led by Michael Casson. Providing clients with expertise in will creation, probate administration and trusts, it regularly handles complex cross-border work. High-value cases are catered for and benefit from the firm's experience with power of attorney and grants of probate.

Practice head(s):

Michael Casson

BTMK Solicitors

Saul Caplan, Mark Goodson and Simon Jones lead the personal tax, trusts and probate team at BTMK Solicitors. Working from Leigh-on-Sea and Rayleigh, the practice handles contentious issues such as will disputes, Inheritance Act claims, beneficiary litigation and Court of Protection work. The department contains one STEP member and has significantly expanded following the acquisition of FW Goodson.

Key clients

Joseph Lamb Independent Financial Advisers


Montage Financial

Work highlights

  • Assisted with a disputed relating to Inheritance Act Claims as regards an Estate worth over £5m.
  • Represented a client in a dispute between beneficiaries and trustees relating to a Will Trust.
  • Acted in a dispute between beneficiaries, executors and trustees relating to a high value estate based in Surrey.