Hall Of Fame

Rising Stars

Firms To Watch: Personal tax, trusts and probate: Essex

Since the department’s restructuring 2021, Manzurul Islam has been leading Mullis & Peake LLP‘s wills and probate team, which is growing fast in strength and knowledge.

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Essex in South East

Birkett Long LLP

Birkett Long LLP‘s wills, trust and probate team is geared to offer expert advice on complex wills, estate planning for high-net-worth business owners, and the whole array of tax work, including capital gains tax. The team leverages the firm’s other departments, such as the agriculture and estates team, to offer a multi-faceted service to its clients. Known for her ‘excellent legal knowledge’, Emma Clarke heads up the South Essex team, and splits her time between Basildon and Chelmsford. Her areas of work include the administration of estates with cross-border complications, while Chelmsford-based Claire Read leads the private client department and is recommended for wills, trust creation and estate administration. Tax expert Ben Parmenter leads the firm’s Colchester office, and Amanda Smallcombe is highly praised for her Court of Protection and inheritance dispute work.

Practice head(s):

Emma Clarke; Ben Parmenter; Claire Read

Other key lawyers:

Katie Hayden; Amanda Smallcombe; Jess Birch


‘Always polite and helpful.’

‘Emma Clarke continues to offer an extremely friendly service. She is always helpful, and her legal knowledge is excellent.’

‘Always treated with good professional advice and friendly people to work with in all aspects of our needs.’

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP‘s ‘extremely knowledgeable’ private client advisory department demonstrates particular strength in multi-jurisdictional tax and estate planning work, and is a market leader for succession and tax planning issues for farmers and land estate owners. The department is jointly steered by Jack Royall in Norwich and Louise Long in Ipswich, while Susan Young heads up the Chelmsford office. Young is recommended for estate planning issues, trusts and will preparation, as well as advising on the administration of estates, and is well versed in working with wealthy individuals and their businesses. Described by clients as ‘absolutely amazing’, Katie Gibson-Green is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Susan Young; Jack Royall; Louise Long

Other key lawyers:

Katie Gibson-Green; Katie Payne; Penny Wotton


‘The key strengths of the team are their availability and rigour of the advice provided. This is all done whilst maintaining a very friendly attitude making them enjoyable to work with.’

‘The quality and timeliness of delivery has always been impressive. The ability to seamlessly introduce colleagues to manage capacity in the team makes it a very smooth experience. The individuals in the team are extremely knowledgeable and able to share their advice in a very easy to understand manner.’

‘This is a fantastic team. Anyone needing a firm to deal with very complicated probate issues would benefit from this firm’s expertise, especially when not residing in the UK.’

‘Katie Gibson-Green was absolutely amazing. She dealt with so many different issues with such efficiency, speed and compassion.’

‘I found Birketts to be totally professional. They acted over and above in their dealings with us.’

‘Katie Gibson-Green outlined all the required information and answered any questions fully and clearly.’

Tees Law

With offices in Chelmsford, Brentwood and Saffron Walden, Tees Law‘s private client practice ‘has an outstanding reputation for quality’, and is equipped to handle an array of private client matters, including succession and tax planning, estate administration, and will preparation. The team is led by Ian Johnston, who is a key contact for wealthy individuals seeking advice on their business succession; Johnston also has strong connections to the farming community. Luck Luck Ooi and the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Sarah White, who joined from Thompson Smith and Puxon in April 2022, are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ian Johnston

Other key lawyers:

Luck Luck Ooi; Sarah White


‘A practice that covers all areas. They are personable, efficient and contactable.’

‘We deal with Luck Luck Oi on a professional basis. We have nothing but positive feedback for Luck and his team. They have exceptional knowledge in the area, but also respond quickly to all queries.’

‘Tees have an outstanding reputation for quality in this. Tees have a formidable team, and there is a high degree of collaboration among the players, who are comfortable in moving between offices to deliver best service to their clients.’

‘Ian Johnston has provided wise counsel and a firm hand to prevent us committing any false steps.’

‘Sarah White is extremely knowledgeable in her area.’

‘The team at Tees are consummately professional, and yet provide a service which feels warm, friendly and personal. All considerations are covered and delivered in an understandable yet thorough manner.’

‘Ian Johnston is a fine example of the ability of the firm to deliver the human approach to what can be very serious discussions.’

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the executor of a complex estate involving international pension trustees and properties, business and gifts, with total assets in the region of £100m.
  • Advising a client on succession planning and tax issues following his sale of substantial farmland for development and potential future land sales.
  • Advising a client on the structure of their estates to best arrange matters from an inheritance tax position for succession planning to their child, with assets worth in the region of £25m.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Susanne Grimwade in Holland-on-Sea heads up Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP‘s ‘knowledgeable and experienced’ wills, life, planning and probate team, and focuses on equity release matters, estate administration and lasting powers of attorneys. Deputy head Andrea Godfrey in Clacton-on-Sea is especially recommended for her work with elderly and vulnerable clients, and is qualified in Level 3 British Sign Language. Colchester-based James Bird ‘stands out greatly’ with his knowledge of non-contentious probate work.

Practice head(s):

Susanne Grimwade; Andrea Godfrey

Other key lawyers:

James Bird, Karen Goulding, Gregory John; Sarah Rankin


‘Everyone we met at the firm was extremely pleasant, welcoming and competent.’

‘Responsive, knowledgeable, efficient, and experienced.’

‘This practice is exceptional. They are a first-class firm of the highest order.’

‘The solicitor who stands out greatly is James Bird. The work was, to some extent international, but he had the knowledge to make it straightforward.’

‘Gregory John creates an excellent rapport with clients and immediately puts them at ease. He is experienced and knowledgeable.’

‘Close attention to detail, with great knowledge and experience in the practice areas.’

‘They have provided an excellent service to me.’

‘They have multiple branches in our local area, there is always the opportunity to meet face-to-face and deal with a specific person. They have a strong team of individuals to deal with any requirement, large or small.’

Work highlights

  • Advised clients on a lifetime mortgage involving a listed property, with funds used to facilitate long term care.
  • Advised clients on preparation of their wills, and severance of joint tenancy.

Giles Wilson Law Limited

Praised as a ‘client-first business’, Giles Wilson Law Limited‘s private client department in Leigh-on-Sea is led by Court of Protection expert Melinda Giles, who leverages her experience in capacity issues to strengthen her probate, trusts and wills work. Pippa Bavington was promoted to partner in 2022 and her practice includes the preparation of wills, probate applications and administration issues, as well as handling trust matters.

Practice head(s):

Melinda Giles; Pippa Bavington

Other key lawyers:

Kirsty Buxton


‘Melinda Giles takes a pragmatic and compassionate approach. She is knowledgeable, responsive, and very able to work collaboratively in her client’s best interest.’

‘Giles Wilson presents itself as a client first, jargon free, legal service business. I always feel they are at the cutting edge of developments in their sector too.’

‘Melinda Giles is an exceptional individual. Always the first person we turn to when requiring any type of legal advice.’


Palmers‘ wills, trusts and probate team is praised by clients for its ‘specialist knowledge’, and covers the traditional non-contentious areas of work in this space while also leveraging expertise in contentious probate and inheritance act claims. The team is jointly steered by Tim Steele in South Woodham Ferrers, Lee McClellan and Donna Smy in Basildon, and Helen Jago in Rayleigh. Steele has established experience in estate administration issues and inheritance tax planning work, while McClellan has a a track record in handling complex and high-value disputes.

Practice head(s):

Tim Steele; Lee McClellan; Donna Smy; Helen Jago

Other key lawyers:

Siobain Moore


‘The advice we received was broad and complete, with plenty of specialist knowledge.’

‘Helen Jago was extremely helpful with flexibility. Nothing was rushed and complex options where clearly explained.’

Thompson Smith and Puxon

With offices in Colchester and Clacton-on-Sea, Thompson Smith and Puxon’s wills and estate team has significant experience in advising agricultural clients on tax and estate planning work, and is also geared to advise business owners from a range of industries on matters such as succession planning and estate administration issues. Exemplifying this are group head Fiona Ashworth, who provides a ‘stand-out service’, and Robert Ashworth, who advises high-net-worth clients on succession planning work. Staff changes in 2022 include the arrival of two new solicitors including Nicola Healy, the retirement of Aileen Hirst in June 2022, and the departure of Sarah White.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Ashworth

Other key lawyers:

Robert Ashworth; Nicola Healy


‘Fiona Ashworth is excellent at what she does, and I would highly recommend her to family or friends.’

‘The team are all highly knowledgeable, approachable and professional. They go the extra mile to ensure clients are provided with a high level of service, suited to each individual’s needs.’

‘Fiona Ashworth provides a stand-out service in the wills and estates department. She is highly knowledgeable and experienced, focused and thorough.’

‘As with agricultural and estates, Fiona Ashworth is a doyenne, always pressing to find out exactly what clients want rather than taking any easy option. Her advice is always clear cut and definite. Robert Ashworth always strives to get the best result in terms of capital tax mitigation.’

‘Demonstrated a personable approach whilst remaining efficient and professional. I would recommend them to anyone.’

‘Nicola Healy’s service was excellent.’

‘Very caring and understanding in a difficult time.’

‘Very professional firm, with a range of specialists in all the key fields.’


Praised for its ‘wealth of experience’, Aquabridge‘s private client department in Chelmsford focuses on advising entrepreneurial clients in private matters that affect their business assets. Practice head Lorna Bastian was promoted to partner in 2022, and is well versed in estate planning, will drafting, trust and and estate administration matters. Samuel Flower joined the team in 2022, and has specialist expertise in contentious estate matters.

Practice head(s):

Lorna Bastian

Other key lawyers:

Emily Payne; Samuel Flower


‘The private client team puts the client’s needs and requirements first. They are extremely knowledgeable and have a wealth of experience in private client matters.’

‘They are a client focused law firm, working in the heart of the local community. They are establishing themselves as true professionals, and offer a broad range of services.’

‘I always recommend Lorna Bastian to clients for trust and inheritance tax advice.’

‘They have a great team with good all-round skills under the excellent leadership of Lorna Bastian.’

‘Lorna Bastian is an excellent private client partner. Not only does she have extensive knowledge in private client law, what sets her apart from others is the ability to communicate with clients in a clear and articulate manner.’

‘Samuel Flower was patient, kind, approachable, and both sympathetic and empathetic as he guided us through what was, a very difficult and sad time. He dealt with our case meticulously, efficiently, sensitively and professionally at all times.’

‘I have known and have dealings with Lorna Bastian and her team for many years for my personal business and I am happy to recommend her services to my clients, friends and family who always give very positive feedback. Lorna is very professional and delivers her services in a clear and friendly way.’

‘The team has strength in depth and is capable of advising on all aspects of tax and probate matters.’

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors

Based in Harlow, Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors‘ trusts and tax team is well versed in working with elderly and vulnerable clients, and its areas of expertise also include will preparation, estate administration, and tax advice. ‘Specialist in his field’ Andrew Flannagan excels in administering complex estates, and handling UK estate and tax planning work, while the ‘excellent’ Lesley Ann Mayhew acts on a broad range of older client matters; she also handles Court of Protection work.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Flannagan

Other key lawyers:

Lesley-Ann Mayhew


‘Lesley-Ann Mayhew offers a personal and professional service. Hugely knowledgeable with an unrivalled personal touch.’

‘The team has always provided a friendly and professional service to our mutual clients. They can be relied upon for a prompt reply and efficient handling of each enquiry.’

‘The priority is always the client, one of the best teams I’ve worked with.’

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Working from all of the firm’s five Essex offices, Pinney Talfourd LLP‘s private client department has further grown in strength with several new in hires in 2022, including the addition of Andrew Grant in Upminster. The team covers the entire scope of private client work, including wills and estate planning issues, asset protection mandates, and trust creation and management matters, and is led by Matthew Edwards in Brentwood, who acts as a deputy, attorney, executor and trustee on numerous complex matters.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Edwards

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Grant


‘I liked the professional advice that they gave me. They seemed to go the extra mile and I’m grateful for that.’

‘Totally professional whilst maintaining a friendly attitude, I would have no hesitation in recommending them for personal or corporate advice and help.’

‘Matthew Edward’s advice has been invaluable to both me and my wife in estate planning. Not only does he possess superb legal knowledge but is able to communicate clearly and concisely facts and information thus pointing the way ahead.’

‘Matthew Edwards dealt with my questions in an extremely knowledgeable and efficient manner, he is a most valuable asset to the firm.’

‘I have used Pinney Talfourd for various legal needs over many years and have always found their staff very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.’

‘A very hands-on team, who walk clients through the whole legal process. Everything is seamless and their approach makes understanding complicated rules easy.’

‘Their services have been outstanding.’

‘Their commitment to offer great customer service is to be commended.’

Work highlights

  • Handling the administration of an estate where an Inheritance Tax liability arose as a result of the structure of the deceased’s will, and the unavailability of spouse exemption.
  • Remedying defective trustee deed of retirement and appointment.
  • Acting as Property and Finance Deputy for a client worth £3.7m, with investigations of serious financial abuse and restoration of client’s estate.

Jefferies Essex LLP

Jefferies Essex LLP‘s wills and probate team is headed up by Gill Tobin in Southend-on-Sea, and handles the full range of personal tax work with specific knowledge of estate administration issues. Tobin is a fellow of the Charted Institute of Legal Executives, and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioner (STEP). Another key contact in the department is Philip Conway.

Practice head(s):

Gill Tobin

Other key lawyers:

Philip Conway


‘They are all very helpful and treat you with respect. The firm has a good reputation and a good depth of knowledge in all departments.’

‘All the solicitors I have had dealings with have been easy to talk to and listened to what I had to say.’

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP‘s private client team is headed up by Lee Hibell in Billericay, and is equipped to handle wills, estate administrations, trusts, lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. Hibell is a full member of the STEP and an associate member of Solicitors for the Elderly. Caroline Cole is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Lee Hibell

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Cole