Personal tax, trusts and probate: Kent, Surrey, Sussex in South East
Cripps Pemberton Greenish is home to an outstanding wealth protection team whose 'advice is always first class' and, following Cripps' merger with Pemberton Greenish, the practice has enlarged its private client and tax offering further. Succession planning, trust administration and tax advisory are are the core expertise together with contentious trust and probate matters. It serves ultra-high-net-worth individuals, many of whom are high-profile individuals with domestic and international interests and assets or are non-doms. Kate Arnold is considered to be 'enlightened and wholly focused on outcomes' and Paul Fairbairn specialises in advising domestic and international families on their succession and tax planning. The'highly rated' Richard Mencner and associate Stephen Horscroft are also core team members.
‘They have a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience, together with the ability to address individual client problems with sympathetic expertise.’
‘What impresses me is their ability to respond quickly to any issues I may have.’
‘Richard Mencner has been advising us on trusts. We rate him very highly.’
‘Paul Fairbairn is always professional and we totally trust his expertise. We have a very good personal relationship with Paul, this is important and helps us feel confident he fully understands our circumstances and therefore is able to provide the best advice and have our best interests at heart.’
‘Stephen Horscroft was excellent in dealing with our estate planning issues. He has a very good manner, was very responsive and produced practical solutions to the issues which arose.’
DMH Stallard LLP is considered to be 'a one-stop shop with specialists in every sector and discipline'. Since its merger with Rawlinson and Butler the team has continued to grow its numbers with new recruits such as senior associate Sara McGrigor. Covering Brighton and London, practice head Lorna Fairbairn heads the group and Claire Carberry, Robert Knight, Camilla Bishop and Michael Derrick are the key partners who cover the South East. It handles the gamut of private client work from the administration of high-value estates with complex UK and foreign assets to supporting vulnerable or elderly clients on the management of their estates.
Other key lawyers:
‘Fiona Higgott is knowledgeable, approachable, commercial and super-friendly – an ideal combination in a lawyer.’
- Assisted on high-value, complex wills for a re-married couple with children from first marriages.
- Handled the administration of a discretionary trust.
- Acting for professional and lay attorneys under a registered lasting power of attorney over property and financial affairs.
- Representing a beneficiary of a deceased’s will with assets in both the UK and overseas.
- Provided succession and tax planning for an ultra HNW business owner.
Irwin Mitchell's private wealth team is known for its ability to handle complex instructions. 'Exceptional in all aspects of her work' Caroline Shelton leads the Crawley group and 'measures up to all that would be expected of a good private client partner'. This substantial group is home to experts in every aspect of private client work; the creation and restructuring of trusts, high-level trust administration and exceptional tax expertise. It advises trustees and on a range of high-value estates with UK and international assets. matters and also advises national corporates on pension death benefit in service cases. Anthony Nixon is expert in inheritance tax and trusts and 'stands head and shoulders above any other tax lawyer'. Head of later life, Kelly Greig is highly rated for her abilities in dealing with complex issues of tax and succession, mental capacity and applications in the Court of Protection. Non-lawyer, tax specialist Michael Taylor is also a highly rated member of the team.
‘All the work they have done for us has been carried out to a high standard.‘
‘The advantage of Irwin Mitchell is their extensive knowledge of law in varying areas; something which we have not found with local lawyers. We have always found the private client team approachable and at the same time totally professional.’
‘If we are dealing with particularly complex matters we will refer to IM. My usual contact is Anthony Nixon but if he is not available I deal with other members of the team. They are always quick to respond and deal with any referral efficiently. They have excellent breadth of knowledge and provide good value for money. I am always confident that if I refer a client on they will be well looked after.’
‘The private client team demonstrate a holistic approach to their clients problems and do not just act as order takers. They proactively discuss the clients issues and proactively provide the right solutions. They understand the full picture regarding not just legal matters but taxation, and potential client needs both now and in the future.’
‘Caroline Shelton has the ability to explain the relevant tax provisions clearly to the more simple minded and has been efficient in producing the relevant documents. She has also kept me up to date on relevant changes in taxation.‘
‘Nicola Midgley does our tax returns very efficiently and I consider Michael Taylor to be an effective head of department.‘
‘John Bunker’s knowledge of trusts and trust taxation is extensive and we would generally turn to him for more complex advice. Likewise Lucy Samy has provided us with efficient, reliable and accurate work which we value greatly.‘
‘Anthony Nixon stands head and shoulders above any other tax lawyer I have dealt with (counsel included). He has a fantastic ability to immediately get to the heart of the issue and provide clear and concise advice.’
‘Kelly Greig in particular demonstrates an holistic approach, and involves professionals from other disciplines in order to provide a full solution. She does not expect the clients to know the answers and will question them to establish exactly what is required.’
Stevens & Bolton LLP is highlighted for combining first-rate advice with diplomatic handling of clients' sensitivities. The 'calm, reassuring and authoritative' Stuart Skeffington supports clients on on all aspects of tax and trusts including: complex onshore and offshore trust structures and charities issues as does Nick Acomb. Rosie Todd is noted for her 'poised and authoritative' approach to succession planning for both UK- and non-UK-domiciled clients. Junior members of the team, particularly partner James Hardaker also attract client appreciation.
‘In my experience the practice is unique because it takes a real interest in your situation. The lawyers explain what the processes are very clearly in plain language and are very tolerant of going over points again if you don’t understand. With other practices I have often found a lot of legalese that I have struggled to understand.‘
‘The team gives high-quality advice in a clear and commercial way, which enables clients to make well-informed decisions. They are partner-led, very personable and highly responsive – it is always a pleasure working with them.’
‘The quality that I have appreciated is their patience. They are patient and empathetic in face-to-face meetings and they are understanding that some decisions take a long time to make. They are aware that they are dealing with matters that go to the heart of the way you live and your relationships.’
‘I work with Stuart Skeffington and Phoebe Browne who supports him. Stuart and Phoebe are knowledgeable and professional both as regards the advice and support they provide and the manner in which they interact with their clients.’
‘Stuart Skeffington has a great manner with clients – he is calm, reassuring and authoritative and is able to explain complex issues in a clear and accessible way.’
‘Rosie Todd is an intelligent and poised adviser who addresses legal points with confidence and authority.’
‘I have worked with Nick Acomb primarily and with his associates particularly James Hardaker. I have always found it very easy to discuss problems/plan solutions and work to be done with them. Clients have always had the greatest regard for their expertise and have been grateful for their assistance.’
Thomson Snell & Passmore provides teams of experts in trust management and tax planning together with contentious probate and Court of Protection cases. Nicola Plant heads the private client department and Stuart Goodbody heads the trust management team which includes the management of personal injury and charitable trusts. Helen Stewart heads the probate group and Mark Politz and Christopher Walker are especially adept in advising on all aspects of taxation including Inheritance and Capital Gains Taxes.
‘The clear identification of specialisms within the firm allows more ready identification of the specialist most suited to the legal advice required by clients.’
‘It is quite a big firm, but operates as a cohesive and very professional team. The visitor feels welcome and well looked after from moment of entry.’
‘Stuart Price assisted a high-net-worth client with complex generational tax and trust planning, He has dealt with the client sensitively and professionally at all stages of the process. He has built sufficient trust that other members of the same family have also appointed him to advise on their affairs.’
‘Helen Stewart and Stuart Goodbody are both very expert in their fields. There is nothing to fault.‘
Bibi Fortin Lees heads the team at Adams & Remers, which undertakes estate and tax planning, including succession planning for very HNW individuals and their families including UK and overseas assets. Francis Nation-Dixon assists on areas including capital taxation and the creation of trusts with a focus on landed estates and Amanda Epstein advises on domestic and international estates, will preparation, trust creation and administration.
Bibi Fortin Lees
‘They are highly experienced and very knowledgeable about whatever problem you throw at them. Readily contactable and immediate responses with clear and understandable advice.’
‘Francis Nation Dixon is very good on trusts especially and tax advice.’
At asb law LLP Ellen Lambert heads the team that advises on the administration of complex trusts and estates of high-net-worth individuals and business owners. It assists on succession and tax planning with regard to the protection of assets; associate Eleanor Gadd has a focus on tax matters and succession planning, especially for business owners. Glen Miles acts for vulnerable people and their families using trusts to manage and protect wealth.
Barlow Robbins LLP has a long-established practice serving local, national and international clients with estate planning, trust matters and Court of Protection work and is especially known for its expertise in dealing with complex wills and probate. Tim Adams and Scott Taylor advise on trusts, tax and wealth management, assisting high-net-worth individuals and their families on estate planning and probate. Alexandra Milton is one of the team's senior associates who is noted for her broad private client expertise.
‘The are very engaging with clients and have identified the value of including different professionals in client review meetings.’
‘Alexandra Milton is personable and demonstrates her knowledge and solutions in a relaxed environment.’
Brachers assists with all aspects of succession and tax planning, the administration of estates and probate. It acts for landed estates, agriculture and business owners throughout the South East often acting for generations of the same family. It can deal with complex trusts and disputes over inheritances, executors or trustees. Christopher Eriksson-Lee is a director of Brachers Trust Corporation and is also a deputy in the Court of Protection. His broad expertise includes capital taxes planning. Alexandra Gordon includes wills preparation, trust creations and lasting powers of attorney.
Other key lawyers:
Alexandra Gordon; Justine Sloover
‘The team is incredibly experienced and has a specialist offering in tax planning, trust management, elderly and vulnerable work, and the services offered to clients with business and agricultural assets.’
‘We received a highly personal service from all of the staff involved in our affairs. They took time to understand what we as a family and individually wanted to achieve.’
Sally Ashford heads the non-contentious private client team at the 'excellent all round firm' Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and has extensive experience assisting high-net-worth individuals, family business owners in relation to their estates and succession planning, including inheritance tax mitigation and trusts. The practice also undertakes Court of Protection matters including deputyship and statutory will applications and works with colleagues in other practice areas such as corporate, litigation and real estate. It also provides a range of services to major charities including Cancer Research UK. Senior associate Gareth Walliss is noted for his tax and trust planning skills.
Other key lawyers:
At Coole Bevis LLP Jenny Murphy counts regional Court of Protection work as a major part of her practice; she is on the Panel of Deputies and drafts lasting powers of attorney in addition to her broader private client work. Alex Bowers is noted for the handling of complex estate and tax planning work, often with an overseas element and the team, including Emily Wardrope, handles a large number of trusts and estate administration and probate cases.
Furley Page Solicitors has a varied client roster including well-known individuals, land owners and lottery winners and also has offers specialist advice on French property and succession cases, a dedicated team focusing purely on trust administration and tax, and an in-house qualified accountant. Aaron Spencer handles asset and tax planning. Senior associate Joshua Williams leads the private client work at the Whitstable office and Melanie Christodoulou's work includes working with Finders International genealogists on intestacy cases.
‘They are consistently professional, efficient, knowledgeable and approachable. The lawyers I dealt with showed considerable sensitivity and awareness, I felt that I could trust them to work in my best interests at a very difficult time.’
‘Aaron Spencer is extremely knowledgeable, approachable, efficient and friendly.‘
‘Melanie Christodoulou is a young lawyer who shows outstanding promise. She is thorough, efficient and reliable. She takes the time to explain everything clearly. She is very approachable and a pleasure to deal with.’
Morrisons Solicitors LLP
Morrisons Solicitors LLP team head Holly Chantler's clients include elderly or vulnerable clients; she is a Panel Deputy for the Court of Protection. The team advises on succession planning and wealth protection for business owners and individuals and has strong local ties, often acting for several generations of the same families. Senior associate Karen Grimm has a focus on later life matters and fellow senior associate Charlotte Thomas, who has joined from Irwin Mitchell, specialises in estate planning, wills and inheritance tax.
‘Holly Chantler is dedicated, knowledgeable and works hard in the interests of her clients, both those who instruct her and those whose financial affairs she manages in her role as deputy.’
At Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, Liz Garvey is trusted for her handling of high- value estates which involve assets in both the UK and abroad and, with notable associate Hannah Gearey, also deals with complex probate cases and Court of Protection applications. Senior associate Cecelia Ward is dual qualified as a Chartered Tax Advisor. Elizabeth Nicholas is also recommended. Director Adrian Moss manages the accounting and tax compliance service.
‘Penningtons take the time to get to know the individuals they work with and are very keen to support our charity with their knowledge and expertise.’
‘They are very personable and able to relate to clients easily, putting them at ease. They also have in-house tax advisers who are capable of explaining complex matters in relatively simple terms.’
‘Hannah Gearey is very relatable, caring and extremely competent. I am yet to meet someone as efficient and timely in her field when it comes to client work.’
‘Adrian Moss has an ability to explain complex tax matters very effectively, which makes clients feel at ease and like we actually know what is going on.’
‘Liz Garvey and Hannah Gearey are prompt to respond, compassionate in their interactions with beneficiaries and very good at building up trust and therefore a positive working relationship with them, often at a very difficult time for the individuals concerned.‘
- Advising executors on the protection of a vulnerable beneficiary in a delicate situation involving substantial UK and offshore assets.
- Advising the executors of a complex and high value estate on trust and tax matters.
- Advising the trustee on the handling and response to highly technical HMRC enquiries.
- Unusually complex IHT planning for a married couple with different nationalities, residence and domicile statuses.
- High-value probate work to maximise Enterprise Investment Scheme and Business Property Relief.
TWM Solicitors LLP's private client team 'inspires confidence' and is cost effective in its handling of wealth protection, wills, the administration of trusts and estates and tax issues. Allison Crossman heads the group, which also acts as Attorney or Deputy for clients lacking mental capacity. Caroline Foulger is dual qualified; she is also a Chartered Tax Adviser and works with associate Madeleine Gooding on wealth preservation and tax planning including where cross-border assets, domicile and residency issues are involved.
‘A young, bright frontline with experienced backup.’
‘All people I contacted within TWM were very approachable and knowledgeable about the topic I needed help with.’
‘The level of client service was outstanding, as was the communication. Every stage was explained and dealt with in a timely manner.’
‘Madeleine Gooding was knowledgeable and approachable and dealt with me efficiently. Her communication skills were good.’
‘Madeleine Gooding did an excellent job on some complex trust work, anshe brought in the more experienced Caroline Foulger to explain the complex IHT implications in a way that was simple and inspired confidence. The combination keeps the costs down effectively.’
- Advised a Swiss resident and domiciled client on a trust for his minor daughter further to a Children Act settlement.
- Acted as independent administrator to secure the estate of a testator with a disputed will.
- Advised a Deputy in relation to Property Tribunal proceedings, where another party had previously been acting without authority.
- Advised an attorney on estate planning including property title investigations and complex Capital Gains Tax matters.
- Advised on the administration of a complex estate and numerous lifetime discretionary trusts.
Sarah Hickey 'who would stand out in any crowd' and the 'highly rated' consultant Nick Stotesbury head up the 'excellent' Batchelors team. It handles probate, intestacy, trusts and tax planning together with disputes around wills and executors and conducts Court of Protection work and disputes under TOLATA. Edward White is highlighted for the clarity of his advice in areas including tax, advisory and contentious private client matters. David Harris and Dalia Sainsbury both joined the team in mid-2018.
Sarah Hickey; Nick Stotesbury
‘What makes this practice unique is the personal service. I have found Sarah Hickey to be excellent – she took the trouble to spend time looking at the whole picture, with regard to both my family and financial position, and giving best advice. I have not come across another practice which has given such a personal service.’
‘The core of partners have been with the practice a long time, giving stability.’
‘The probate team at Batchelors headed by Sarah Hickey have been excellent in supporting referred clients and myself personally when I had cause to use their services. They speak in plain clear language which gives confidence in their abilities.’
‘This practice displays an outstanding level of professionalism, as you walk through the door from the receptionist onwards you feel as though you are in safe hands and that every decision made is thought through very carefully, as well as being based on the most up-to-date law.’
‘Nick Stotesbury is a highly respected, hard working and conscientious solicitor and I would trust his advice and ability to deliver.‘
‘Edward White has the same outlook and dedication to giving clients a service and a satisfactory result.’
‘Edward White makes careful, thoughtful, well-judged and informed decisions. His explanations are clear, we can understand fully the implications of the advice he is giving which allows us to make very confident decisions.’
‘Although she had an efficient team working behind her, nearly all our engagement was with Sarah. She is extremely personable which made it easy to engage with her. Her experience was evident from her questioning and analysis and the confidence we had in Sarah meant we were relaxed throughout the process. She went out of her way to ensure everyone involved understood. We have recommended Sarah and her team to others.’
‘Sarah Hickey is extremely competent in private client matters, explains legal issues to the layman in plain English and provides practical solutions to achieve the client’s objectives.’
‘Edward White can be relied upon to bring an analytical mind to inheritance tax planning and dealing with contentious probate issues, as well as advising clients on drafting wills and trust deeds.’
‘Sarah Hickey is a very smart lady, both in her professionalism and presentation: she would stand out in any crowd. I have greatly appreciated the confident, methodical, thorough and efficient way the process has been and continues to be handled. Sarah’s advice has been invaluable. Fees and the costs have been regularly estimated with great accuracy, thereby avoiding any possibility of confusion or misunderstanding about the estate.’
‘We dealt with Sarah Hickey and Dalia Sainsbury and I would have no hesitation in recommending both in the future.’
At Girlings, Lesley Rushton is 'unhesitatingly recommended' for her skilled handling of trusts, tax planning (particularly inheritance tax) and advising vulnerable individuals and their families. She counts national charities among her clients. Fluent in French, Charlotte Nock undertakes cases with a cross-border element and Amanda Wilson heads the Ashford office.
Lesley Rushton; Charlotte Nock; Amanda Wilson
‘I’ve worked with Girlings on several occasions and they are a highly knowledgeable, responsive and commercially aware practice who give good value for money.’
‘Girlings provides a very competent and solid service in the private client area and I would recommend to clients in the Kent area.‘
‘Leslie Rushton is very knowledgeable in her area, identifies the issues well and gives clear instructions. She spots problems and knows when to involve counsel. She is a pleasure to deal with.’
‘Lesley Rushton is a considered, thoughtful and pragmatic lawyer who is a pleasure to deal with.’
‘We found Lesley Rushton intelligent, empathetic, thorough and efficient, in marked contrast to every other lawyer I have ever dealt with. She was a pleasure to deal with and I would unhesitatingly recommend her.’
- A challenging trustee matter dealing with Court of Protection matters.
- A complex administration of an Anglo-French estate.
- Advising an Executor in relation to a torn and damaged Will and obtaining a Grant of Probate.
- A complex matter which involves the validity of a will and possible abuse of an elderly Portuguese national with dementia who was domiciled in the UK for many years.
- A cross-border matter which involved administration of an estate which was complicated by the death of the main beneficiary and French wills purportedly made in accordance with English Law.
Herrington Carmichael LLP's personal tax, trusts and probate practice serves a range of clients including high-net-worth individuals with assets based abroad. In addition to areas such as estate planning and tax, Alexander Mulroe , who joined from Paris Smith LLP, assists elderly and vulnerable clients. Managing partner Frankie Tierney handles a range of disputes involving wills and trusts and undertakes Court of Protection work where mental capacity is in issue. Anthony Tahourdin offers decades of experience in probate and the range of matters affecting high-value estates.
Mundays LLP's private wealth department, which is headed by Julie Man provides international high-net-worth clients with a comprehensive range of services including tax planning relating to businesses, trusts and overseas assets. The team has been enhanced since Jeremy Duffy joined in 2018 - his breadth of tax expertise covers areas ranging from the taxation of property holding structures and off-shore trusts to the domicile position of wealthy foreign clients resident in the UK. Oliver Jackson who focuses on sensitive, contentious matters is also a key team member.
Philip Warford at Renaissance Legal 'inspires confidence' through his combination of expertise and exceptional client care skills. Along with Katherine Miller and a team of consultants, they offer specialist services to vulnerable and disabled clients and their families and carers. The safeguarding of welfare and finances are tackled through wills, trusts and powers of attorney together with Court of Protection applications. The team also handles trust and estate administration and relevant tax issues. In addition to private clients, it acts for Mencap and Castlewood Trust & Company.
Other key lawyers:
‘We turn to Renaissance Legal for any family who need advice around wills, trusts, powers of attorney and Court of Protection applications to secure the future welfare of their disabled child. They have high standards and expertise and have such a positive attitude to disability. And they offer good value for money. We consider RL to be offering a unique service in our region.’
‘This practice has an exceptionally good way with vulnerable clients with complex and special needs making them feel welcome and important in a situation which can often be alien and daunting for them.’
‘The team excels in its communication skills and sensitive way of working. The team are highly knowledgeable in their field and provide excellent advice in a user-friendly and accessible manner.’
‘Philip Warford is the ideal person to be helping us with family trusts for the benefit of a family member with learning difficulties. He has wonderful interpersonal skills, he’s sensitive, calm, organised and a delightful person. He makes our work (as trustees) fun, and he gets things done in an organised and measured way.‘
‘Philip Warford is friendly and exceptionally professional. All too often other professionals are unaccommodating and do not adapt their skills to clients with special needs. This is where Renaissance Legal excels and I would always use them for clients with complex requirements and additional care in anxious situations.’
‘Phil Warford is an exceptional person. His specialist knowledge is tremendous but the added factor is his personality. He is so positive and inclusive, but not afraid to talk about the difficult questions parents often avoid. His personal commitment to good outcomes for vulnerable clients shines through everything he does.’
The Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP team provides extensive expertise to both UK and overseas clients including advice on capital taxes planning, estate management and setting up and varying trusts. Its clients include wealthy business owners and clients in the agriculture sector. The 'exceptional' Max Wright leads much of this work and Alan Foster is hugely respected for his skills in contentious trusts and probate cases. Associate Amanda Attrell heads the later life work which includes Court of Protection cases and Deputyship applications and Ian Best has extensive experience in dealing with wills, probate and the administration of trusts.
‘The team offer a great alternative to London practices – offering expertise at a much lower price.’
‘The team are not only incredibly approachable but provide an holistic service and the way they work with other complementary services is second to none. The focus on understanding clients’ issues and inclusive approach to resolving them with imagination and collaboration is a great model to work with for clients. It goes without saying that their knowledge is first class but the way they listen, support and deal with clients to understand their issues and requirements is really what sets them apart.’
‘This firm is rightly highly regarded in Sussex. I have experience of the quality of the legal advice, delivered in clear terms to the clients. There is a clear understanding of the need to achieve a commercially sensible outcome.’
‘Max Wright is an exceptional private client lawyer, with a calm manner under pressure and very good technical knowledge.’
‘Whist the whole team are a joy to work with, focused on delivering a caring and professional service, Max Wright stands out for his vast experience and knowledge but what really sets him apart is the way he listens to and discussed the real issues with clients that gets to the heart of the matter.’
‘Amanda Arrrell’s understanding of the requirements, technicalities and the sector are second to none, but its the way she can put a client at ease and deal with them in such a natural way that really stands out.’
Thackray Williams LLP
Thackray Williams LLP serves a broad range of clients including high-net-worth individuals with assets in the UK and overseas. Inheritance Tax Planning and complicated will structures form a substantial part of the team's work. Elliot Lewis' acts for high-profile clients where managing royalties and similar rights are in issue. He is also a trustee for many of his clients' trusts and acts for clients with capacity challenges. Associate Zahra Kanani's expertise is extending to advising on Sharia-compliant wills and Inheritance Tax.
Elliot Lewis; Anthony Macey
Other key lawyers:
‘Individuals I work with have been in place for many years and this tends to create trust.’
‘Anthony Macey uses very little legal jargon and generally speaks to me in language that I understand and is very patient in explaining things to me.’
‘Katie Williams is very patient and anxious to take the heat out of any situation. If I have a problem and I discuss it with Anthony or Katie Williams, I always feel more relaxed and calm.’
‘Nima Stepney was extremely supportive (I was very stressed about the situation I found myself in). She explained my options and carried out the necessary work, keeping me informed at all times.’
The team at Warners Solicitors offers a comprehensive range of specialisms; estate planning, tax, trust creation and administration and elderly client services. The team attracts high-net-worth clients, owners of landed estates and clients in agriculture. It also tends to clients with capacity issues - Gail Hall has a focus on the latter and group head, Mary Shaw has extensive experience in all types of private client and family matters. Philip Raggett 'is excellent for tax planning' and Martin Terrell is noted for his excellence in Court of Protection work.