Personal tax, trusts and probate: Kent, Surrey, Sussex in South East
Under the leadership of Sally Ashford, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP handles complex matters including the management of estates, succession planning, and court of protection work. One specialism of the team is its work for charities, as well as advising individuals on establishing charitable vehicles. Ashford is highly praised by clients as a 'trusted advisor'; the practice also has a very capable team of associates, with Gareth Walliss described as 'approachable, diligent and extremely understanding', and Natalie Butler is recommended for her efficiency. Ashford and Walliss handle all aspects of this practice area, while Butler is particularly experienced in the administration of estates.
‘Charles Russell Speechlys have dealt with an incredibly complex probate on my behalf as executor since November 2014. Their clear strength in cases such as this is the breadth and depth of experience they can draw on across the office, which I feel is unrivaled within the region – including (in my case) the involvement of their Tax Trusts & Succession, Private Wealth Disputes, Private Property, Employment and Real Estate Disputes teams. A colleague in my firm also instructs Charles Russell Speechlys for trust administration work because of the depth of their experience in corporate and commercial matters. The expertise within the Tax Trusts & Succession team is excellent, dealing with all elements of the estate administration from stamp collections to unpublished novels, and always consider the ‘bigger picture’ before advising (such as in saving tax for beneficiaries). They have a large team who deal with all elements of private client work at varying levels of seniority.’
‘I don’t have much to compare the team to, given that this is my first experience using a service of this nature. With that said, I have been extremely impressed with the knowledge that the team have brought to the situation. I believe my particular probate case has been more complicated and involved that a typical case and as such I have required individuals that are more experienced/knowledgeable to help guide the process. Whilst this case has been tricky, I have always felt answers to questions were only an email or phone call to the team away. This knowledge and experience has made for a more comfortable process – something that is highly desired given the unpleasant nature of probate. Additionally, being able to dictate how much or how little I wish to personally contribute to the process has enabled me to balance bills vs. personal stress to a level I feel comfortable with.’
‘What makes the team different is the balance of professionalism, warmth and reliability, which seems to be pitched at just the right level. Consequently, it is clear that the team really do care about their clients, and are able to deliver appropriate solutions. Notably, there is a clear ability to be “conductor of the orchestra” in complex situations involving multiple moving parts, whilst providing clients with confident reassurance and avoiding the alienation that so often arises between client and adviser when dealing with technically and emotionally difficult situations. They are great people to deal with and they get the job done without unnecessary fuss or drama.’
‘Richard Honey is an Associate in the team and has been my main point of contact within the firm since 2015. He has coordinated the approach across all teams, providing a seamless service, and is very responsive to all correspondence. His experience in dealing with complex estate administration matters with complex angles has been invaluable in this matter and he has always sought to protect my liability as a professional executor, especially in the face of stiff opposition from beneficiaries and their legal representatives. Although technically capable, he always remains pragmatic with his advice – this ‘commercial’ aspect is one which some solicitors often miss. This is exemplified by recently being approved to become a full member (TEP) of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, demonstrating his experience of complex estates at a senior level.’
‘Rebecca Piper is exceptional. She is extremely knowledgeable and her advice is always well thought out. She is very nice to deal with.’
‘Gareth Wallis has been our main point of contact with CRS and is always approachable, diligent and extremely understanding. He has taken pains to make us fully aware of the cost implications of our involvement. Duncan Elson has been a steady and authoritative advisor. Tom Denham-Smith was outstanding as a facilitator.’
‘It is clear to me that Sally Ashford has carefully put together her private client team, and that she is an excellent leader who is respected and liked by them. It is also clear that she is a trusted adviser to her clients and genuinely cares about them. I have witnessed her skillfully overseeing complex situations with multiple stakeholders with varying degrees of financial experience and acumen and can see that she makes her clients feel confident with her ability and at ease with her warm manner. Lauren Clark is equally delightful to work with. Complex situations with nervous clients who find themselves in uncharted territory are addressed with warmth and confidence, making her a trusted adviser. Her reassuring and competent style, which one would normally associate with those of more advanced years, is highly effective at putting clients at ease whilst inspiring confidence.’
‘Natalie Butler has been efficient, explains situations effectively, and communicates in a timely fashion.’
Cripps Pemberton Greenish's team 'delivers exactly the level of advice required' in all areas of wealth protection. In addition to handling succession and tax planning, the firm is also able to deal with complex issues such as international probates and capacity issues. The team's client base includes ultra-high-net-worth individuals, many of whom have international elements to their financial affairs. The practice is led by Kate Arnold, 'a terrific wills lawyer' who is particularly experienced in advising family and owner-managed businesses. Paul Fairbairn is active in the area of succession and tax planning and is also highly praised by clients, while Richard Mencner leads the trusts team. Managing associate Stephen Horscroft is also recommended.
‘CPG seem to get to know their clients really well so they fully understand what is needed. I believe that this is a reassurance to clients. They have a wide team which means that they will be able to consider a huge variety of issues and can offer a one-stop shop for many things. I think this makes them fairly unique.’
‘I have worked with Stephen Horscroft with many clients all of whom have spoken highly of him. He is incredibly knowledgeable in his field and is thorough. He feels like a safe pair of hands which is comforting in what is often a difficult time.’
‘Stephen Horscroft has always given us great advice and a highly responsive and professional service.’
‘Broad depth of knowledge and skills available within the firm.’
‘Clearly highly competent and up to date with all aspects affecting our clients.’
‘The standard of care and service provided was exceptional. As a client and solicitor of circa 35 years standing, it was what I would expect from a first-class adviser with an incisive knowledge of trusts and powers of attorney.’
‘All-round professionalism with depth across all required legal areas, delivering exactly the level of advice required whilst providing clear explanation and, importantly, direction for the non-legally trained private individual.’
‘Kate Arnold is a terrific wills lawyer.’
- Advised UHNW UK domiciled US citizen on tax, trusts and will matters.
- Advised a high net worth couple, who together have a majority holding in an investment management business and assets of around £35 million. Alongside tax planning, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney, and provided estate and succession planning advice to them, their children and wider family.
- Acted in two complex estates for a couple, including the administration of the estate and accompanying trusts.
DMH Stallard LLP
DMH Stallard LLP's private client team spans the firm's offices in Guildford, Brighton and Horsham. Lorna Fairbairn is overall head of the London and South East teams, while the key lawyers in the South East are Camilla Bishop, Michael Derrick and senior associate Deborah Henn. The team advises high net worth individuals on issues including inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning, Court of Protection matters, and the administration of estates. Bryan Dean is also praised by clients for his work. Claire Carberry and Robert Knight departed the team in 2019.
‘The private client team in Brighton that I deal with is one of the most respected firms I come into contact with. Headed up by Camilla Bishop, depth of expertise is strong and complex estate planning matters dealt with in a professional manner, without the unnecessary complexity that can so often confuse clients.’
‘I have used DMH Stallard for a variety of personal matters over many years and am always impressed by the quality, efficiency and professionalism of the staff I have dealt with. I entirely trust the advice they give and feel they have their client’s best interests at the core of their work.’
‘It is great that I know there is a number of people I can contact with different specialties and they do all work as a team, so I hold them in high regard. I find them extremely good value for money and the size of the firm is good where there is enough people to support you and your clients but not too big that you are treated as a number, therefore not losing the personal touch.’
‘Camilla Bishop is a respected private client lawyer, both by her peers, fellow professionals, clients and colleagues. Efficient at returning calls, always happy to help with a query (even if not leading to a billing opportunity for her) and knowledgeable ensures she is one of two lawyers who are my go-to people.’
‘Bryan Dean has acted for most of the work I have brought to the firm. I consider him to be exceptional – in terms of his knowledge and professional attributes, but also his down to earth common sense & rapport with me as a client. I know my elderly parents who also use his services have also always valued his work very highly.’
‘Sara McGrigor stands out as an exemplary lawyer within her field. She has helped us with wills (and a deed of variation), inheritance tax, trust, probates, powers of attorney and court of protection applications. She has helped to manage a complex family estate that was in disarray. I understand that the inheritance tax on this case was one of the most complex cases she has seen but with one of the best outcomes. In addition to this she has enlisted the support of colleagues to work on planning applications through an options agreement that has added considerable value to the estate.’
‘Michael Derrick has dealt with a number of property deals some simple some more complicated. All dealt with professionally and in good time. Jonathan Compton has vigorously fought a complex business case professionally and offered good advice all the while.’
‘I felt comfortable working with Michael Derrick and Sarah Higgs. They have a way of putting a client at ease and their expertise inspires confidence. I am unable to compare them with competitors, as I had not had previous dealings with others in regard to Wills and trusts. I base my judgment of their competence on the fact that I had done my own research on the subject prior to retaining them, and I was impressed with the service and advice I received.’
- Handled estate planning for an elderly couple with significant assets which involved gifting their main residence effected by a Trust in order to generate substantial IHT savings.
- Advising the owners of a £10million family business on tax and estate planning in order to take advantage of Business Property and Agricultural Property relief and other mechanisms to maximise IHT savings including advice on discretionary trusts.
- Administration of high value intestate estate following the sudden death of the testator which included benefits from a US-based employer and assets in the UAE.
Irwin Mitchell's sizeable tax, trusts and estates team is spread across the firm's offices in Gatwick and Chichester. The practice advises high-net-worth individuals, particularly business owners, entrepreneurs, and landowners. Matters handled of late included acting in disputes with HMRC in the Supreme Court, tax and succession planning, and Court of Protection work. The practice is led by Caroline Shelton; other key contacts include the 'outstanding' inheritance tax specialist Anthony Nixon and Kelly Greig, who is an 'industry leader' in later life planning. Paula James heads the Chichester office and Catherine Angel retired in December 2019.
‘Irwin Mitchell are in my opinion the strongest private client team in the south-east. They can boast access to high levels of technical resource, can draw on specialist services from other lawyers within their firm and are headed up by the very impressive Caroline Shelton. They are a formidable team for others to follow. They set the standard.’
‘The team has has a breadth of knowledge and an agile way of assessing issues that generates workable solutions. They have the ability to identify keys to unlocking a solution that are not always immediately apparent and to generate unique solutions.’
‘Anthony Nixon is outstanding. He has the intellect to pick through the knottiest of problems and come up with an easy to follow solution.’
‘Caroline Shelton has a high level of knowledge with an approachable and fluent way with clients. She is always patient when explaining complex matters.’
‘Caroline Shelton is an excellent private client lawyer. Personable, technical and able to communicate complex matters with ease. Any young private client lawyer looking to join a firm, if able to have Caroline as a mentor should look no further.’
‘Anthony Nixon for his wealth of knowledge and experience and total client satisfaction. Kelly Greig as an industry leader in later life planning and specifically helping with matters where there may be issues of Court of Protection and undue influence. Hannah Willis at the non-partner level is also notable in this area. Paula James and Paula Myers stand out for their knowledge and help in Contentious Probate.’
‘Anthony Nixon stands out for his exceptional technical expertise and the ability to apply solutions across the board – drawing out seemingly unconnected ideas to solve a problem.’
‘Naomi Neville has consistently shown professional excellence.’
Stevens & Bolton LLP is frequently praised by clients for its ability to handle complex tax and trusts matters in a client-orientated manner. In the past year, the firm has taken on more work involving cross-border elements, as well as increasing its provision of accounting services to clients. The practice is led by Stuart Skeffington who offers clients 'a great commercial sense' and has all-round expertise in this field. Nick Acomb and Rosie Todd are also highly praised by clients, with Acomb singled out for his technical ability and Todd noted for her 'intellectual rigour'.
‘The standard of work and delivery on time has always been of the highest quality. The presentation of the work to the client has been exceptional.’
‘Nick Acomb is one of the top advisers I have worked with in my career of over 40 years. His technical ability, clear and concise explanation to other professional and clients is exemplary. James Hardaker, his assistant and now Partner, has great technical strengths.
‘The Tax & Trust team at Stevens & Bolton LLP is professional, responsive and client orientated.’
‘Stuart Skeffington is very knowledgeable and delivers advice in a clear and easy-to-understand manner on complex Tax and Trust matters. Always accessible and responsive, Stuart has great commercial sense and has a pragmatic approach to get the best outcome for clients.’
‘The Private Client team at Stevens & Bolton offer a level of technical depth and excellence that is hard to find outside London. The team are also very accessible and user-friendly.’
‘Whilst working recently with Daryl Fox and Abigail Palmer-Page on two relatively complex estates, every technical problem encountered has been dealt with sensibly and confidently, which as an Executor I found very reassuring.’
‘Their analysis and innovative application of the law are of a standard that compares favourably with and, in my experience, often exceeds that of City specialists and leading private client chambers. Lesser lawyers will duck or try to skirt round complex issues rather than do the analysis and give a view – the private client team at Stevens & Bolton can be relied upon to find an answer.’
‘Rosie Todd and her colleague, Harriet Irving, bring the highest level of intellectual rigour and legal analysis to their work which gives the client, and third party professionals with an interest in the advice, real confidence in the solutions that they come up with. They are both a pleasure to work with.’
Thomson Snell & Passmore
Thomson Snell & Passmore works with HNW individuals on estate and tax planning, as well as administering wills and estates. Many of the firm's matters involve overseas assets or complex asset structures. The team also works on matters involving vulnerable individuals, including Court of Protection cases. The practice is led by Nicola Plant, who advises on all areas of private wealth. Helen Stewart is head of probate and has over 20 years of experience in estate administration. Senior associate Esther Lee is recommended, and is praised as 'an incredibly able trust and estates practitioner with great client handling skills'.
‘TSP are known as a very solid, reliable Private Client practice in the South East. Having multiple offices means they can cover a substantial client base geographically. They are also a very modern firm by comparison with some of their direct peers, investing in technology and innovation to stay ahead of the curve.’
‘I work with Esther Lee there and she is just brilliant. An incredibly able trust and estates practitioner with great client handling skills, particularly in a crisis such as a sudden death or loss of capacity. She has good knowledge of trusts particularly over land including farms, landed estates and property businesses. I have no hesitation in recommending people to Esther eg where we are not able to act or if clients want a more local service, given we are in central London.’
‘Esther Lee is a talented solicitor – she has many years of experience and a lovely, calm manner with clients, as well as being efficient and very responsive. I really enjoy working with her.’
‘TS&P have been administering our mainly family charitable trust for about 30 years. I have worked with 3 main personnel and each time we have asked them to become trustees upon their retirements as we have always treated them as part of the team and found them easy to work with. Administrators behind the scenes have been helpful in managing documents and providing information.’
‘Clare Morrison is just superb. She is understated and fiercely intelligent and organized and has an excellent grasp of cross border issues.’
‘Whereas I find most Private Client teams are a collection of individuals, working in silos, TS&P are most definitely a team that plays as a team – utilising the strengths and skill sets of everyone in it. Hugely experienced, they’re a safe pair of hands.’
‘Recognised as a firm with genuine expertise in the field of private client work – strong technical expertise as well as good with clients.’
‘My main contact has been with Helen Stewart who is very approachable and empathetic. Helen is active on social media and also on the local radio and Money Box.’
Based in Lewes, Adams & Remers is particularly active in advising HNW individuals on estate planning, including in cases involving overseas assets. The practice also handles probate, trust administration, and the preparation of powers of attorney. The team is led by the 'clear, knowledgeable and sensitive' Bibi Fortin Lees, who handles all aspects of the practice area. Consultant Amanda Epstein and Francis Nation-Dixon are also key practitioners. Catherine Fromant joined the team as a consultant in 2019 from Coole Bevis LLP.
‘I refer my clients without hesitation for a service that I could trust to be in their best interests. There is a also a transparent and clear working relationship with all other trusted advisers. The service is approachable and empathetic at a time when clients often need the most support.’
‘London, indeed international class advice, from an accessible and client-friendly practice in Sussex. If you live in the South East, don’t bother to go up to town. But if you are based in London, you can now get their absolutely unrivalled skills there too. A very strong team, who have seen and done it all, but retain a warming devotion to their clients’ needs.’
‘Bibi Fortin Lees leads from the front. She is one of the classiest practitioners in the private client world, but miraculously free of the arrogance that is often associated with a successful practice. Clear, knowledgeable and sensitive, she is everything a solicitor in the sector should aspire to be. Francis Nation-Dixon is a remarkably safe pair of hands, and Amanda Epstein has a loyal roll of clients, thankful for her ability to secure the outcome that suits them. A solutions-driven team.’
‘Adams & Remers is a lovely practice with lots of history and a true desire to put clients above all else. The people that work there clearly want to do the best job possible and whilst the firm has been around for many years, it has remained friendly, approachable and has avoided the mass, large company take-overs that other firms have experienced. That said, it has no trouble keeping up with the times in terms of its knowledge bank.’
‘The individuals show a genuine warmth and interest when helping me on client cases, and adopt a similar approach to their client work, that is very much focused on putting people first. They are happy to go that extra mile to make a difference, even when busy. Their knowledge is first class as is their bedside manner.’
‘Very professional , knowledgeable about all topics especially on the property side and especially associated issues such as tax. Good financial knowledge and understanding of trusts.’
Brachers is known for its work for landed estates and is also active in advising HNW individuals and families throughout the South East and internationally. Matters handled in 2019 included succession planning, the administration of estates and trusts, and inheritance tax planning. Many of the firm's clients are long-term, including families that have worked with Brachers for generations. The non-contentious side of its private client practice is led by Christopher Eriksson-Lee. Alexandra Gordon specialises in capital tax planning, while newly made-up partner Justine Sloover is experienced in trust administration.
‘Brachers know their subject, are very competent and, above all, very diplomatic. These attributes have been so important during the present lock down when the ‘working from home’ handicap could have spoiled progress – but it didn’t.’
From its offices in Horsham and Howe, Coole Bevis LLP advises clients across the South East and London on private tax, trusts and probates. The firm is also increasingly advising clients on matters with international aspects. Practice head Jenny Murphy is experienced in Court of Protection work and acting for vulnerable clients, and is on the Panel of Deputies. Alex Bowers frequently acts on complex estate and tax planning work, and is praised by a client as 'efficient and well-regarded'. Associate Amanda Owen is another key contact, and is also recommended by clients.
‘Our personal experience derives only as a client with little experience of the legal profession. Everyone displayed clear friendly assistance from the outset, without pressure, demonstrating a clear understanding for handling a difficult intestacy on our behalf. Overall we identified a very well explained step by step approach giving us confidence in proceeding.T his confidence was sustained over more than 15 months. Delays beyond this were entirely due to the processes of external service providers, and beyond their control. Costs were contained despite these delays.’
‘Amanda Owen has been the Solicitor who has been working on my late mother’s estate affairs for the last 15 months. She is efficient, available often at very short notice to help with problems and answer questions that I have over the phone or e mail. With Amanda’s help and support we are close to finalising my late mother’s affairs. Amanda’s Secretary, Caroline Fowler, is most helpful and efficient and with her experience, can answer many questions if Amanda is busy with another client. James Vick, the Property Solicitor, has been very helpful and prompt in my recent House purchase. Vanessa in reception is very pleasant and helpful as a first contact either on the phone or when I go in to the Office in the Carfax.’
‘Alex Bowers is an efficient and well-regarded team leader. Jenny Murphy is an excellent professional advisor. Amanda Owen provides efficient and understanding service.’
‘Amanda Owen handled the estate matters providing clarity for the best way ahead, with a constant very prompt response clearly identifying the costs involved and handled the liaison with external agencies, service providers and organisations with clear competence. David Vick handled the sale of property with a similar style and competence. Both impressed with rapid and usually immediate responses to verbal, electronic and written communications.’
‘I have been very pleased with the work that Coole Bevis have done for me over many years. Their Team of Solicitors and support staff are most accessible, obliging and helpful. I have utilised the services of other Solicitors in the past, but have found Coole Bevis to be the most helpful.’
‘All contact with the firm was friendly and processes were efficient.’
‘Their team is very approachable and have always dealt with me and my clients in a highly professional manner. Nothing is ever too much trouble. They handle work in a prompt and efficient manner.’
‘Prompt, efficient service.’
Furley Page Solicitors has experience in a number of specialist areas, including handling agricultural and charity matters, French property, and estates where the deceased did not leave a will, forcing the tracing of heirs. It is also on the panel of Camelot Lottery, advising lottery winners on their financial arrangements. The team is led by Aaron Spencer, who handles estate planning for HNW individuals. Senior associate Joshua Williams and solicitor Melanie Christodoulou are also praised by clients.
‘Very professional, discreet and competent. The team is made up of a good mix of people, age groups and backgrounds and are always friendly and easy to deal with. As a client I was treated very well and with courtesy at every stage.’
‘Consistently professional, attentive, communicative and easy to deal with.’
‘Aaron Spencer heads the team and has an excellent approach to managing the team and developing the talent that he has within. He is inclusive and encouraging to ensure that the solicitors and associates are challenged in their work but also supported where needed. There is a structured process for growth within the team so that clients will get the same quality of advice from whichever adviser.’
‘Melanie Christadoulou has impressed me with her organisation skills, providing advice efficiently and ensuring that she does what she says when she says she will. Communication is key when dealing with clients and it is refreshing to deal with someone like this who is consistently upfront.’
‘I have also been impressed with Hannah Sawyer who is thorough and meticulous in her approach to estate administration which is the area I have had most dealings with.’
‘The trust administration team which is managed by David Fielding provides an efficient, professional and accessible service to trustees. Trust administration can be daunting for lay trustees who may not have any idea about what is required of them when they are appointed. David has a calm, approachable manner when dealing with trustees and he and his team are happy to support trustees and beneficiaries where needed to get things set up properly or other requirements dealt with when needed.’
‘I mainly work with Aaron Spencer who is very good at understanding a client’s unique situation and needs and then being able to present solutions in such a way that clients fully understand his advice, with ease.’
‘Excellent cross section of disciplines available, prompt and concise communication, and the ability to attend customers at requested venues. Accurate advice and problem solving, congenial making for good working relationships. Quality of personnel in this practice make it stand out against other practices in the region.’
‘The depth of knowledge and experience in the Private Client team is excellent and when referring clients with complex needs, it is so reassuring to know that we can rely on the quality of advice and service they provide. They are able to think broadly around a client’s needs holistically as they have tax, estates and trust specialists as well as a well developed elderly and vulnerable client experts and it is clear that they communicate between the various areas of specialism where there is a need, to deliver the best outcomes for clients. Many team members have stayed at Furley Page for a number of years which is testament to the firm and indicates to me that they enjoy their work and the working environment.’
‘The team are very experienced, accessible, practical and both we and our clients find them very easy to work with. They are flexible to clients needs and always willing and able to help.’
‘I am currently working with Melanie Christodoulou and Harvey Barrett on probate and trust matters respectively. Both provide prompt and detailed reports on progress together with expediting matters of a complex nature. In the past Furley Page have been retained for conveyancing and business transactions all of which have been carried out promptly, professionally and without recourse.’
Dawes family (farming estate)
Matthew Breach (Camelot Lottery winner)
Eastbridge Hospital (Almshouse charity)
Hulme family (farming estate)
Sir Roger Manwood Hospital (Almshouse charity)
R G Hills Charitable Trust (grant giving charitable trust)
John Morgan (Private Landlord)
- Following a client’s £17.8 million lottery win, the client was referred to Furley Page by Grant Thornton for legal advice on his estate.
- Advised a landlord based in Canterbury, on estate planning.
- Providing ongoing advice to the a family in Faversham related to their farm and family trust, including wills, tax planning, gifting and trust administration.
Led by Ellen Lambert, Knights plc's practice covers a broad range of areas including the administration of trusts, tax planning and supporting vulnerable clients. The team's clients come from across the South East. Lambert particularly specialises in trusts and estates, while Glen Miles leads on Court of Protection work. The team was previously Asb Law which was merged with Knights in May 2020.
Other key lawyers:
‘Excellent technical knowledge regarding different types of Trusts, Wills and Powers of Attorney. They have dealt with several complex trust cases for me and my client.’
‘Ellen Lambert and Eleanor Gadd are both technically excellent but also great at explaining complex issues to clients in an easy to understand manner. Both are very likeable, easy to get on with and always respond quickly to any queries.’
Moore Barlow (the result of the merger between Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins in May 2020) has personal tax, trusts and probates team that is skilled at handling complex wills and estates, such as those with international aspects. They also work with vulnerable clients, including on matters involving the Court of Protection. The practice is led by Tim Adams, while senior associate Alexandra Milton leads the Woking team. Contentious trusts specialist Scott Taylor also acts alongside Adams on various matters.
‘My impression of the firm is that it is founded on the values of honesty and integrity.’
‘Certainly far more efficient and professional than several other firms that I have recently had dealings with. The advice given has been more specific/appropriate and hence more useful. They clearly think the issues through more carefully.’
‘Samantha King was knowledgeable and thorough throughout the process of administering my late father’s estate. Paperwork to review and sign was received in a timely fashion and Samantha made herself available to answer any questions. The joint executors found Samantha empathetic about their mandate during a time of bereavement and had an excellent working relationship with her.’
‘I have dealt with several members of the firm and they have all been very professional, helpful and personable, but mainly assisted by Samantha King. She has helped me with no end of practical advice and resolved some extremely difficult issues. In particular, I would mention her assistance with a family trust, in that she personally visited my very elderly father in his nursing home to assess his capacity, and was very kind and patient with him.’
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP handles estates for clients including ultra high net worth individuals. The estates they advise on often involve complex aspects including international assets and agricultural, commercial and residential property. The team also advises clients on tax and probate matters. The practice is led by Liz Garvey, who is particularly skilled in the challenging areas of family conflicts and cases involving the Court of Protection and vulnerable beneficiaries. The firm has a strong team of associates including Cecelia Ward, Hannah Gearey and Elizabeth Nicholas. Lucy Edwards joined the Guildford office from the London office in November 2019.
‘One of the very top out-of-London practices with fantastic breadth and depth of expertise and experience. There is nothing they can’t turn their hands to. They are technically astute, very good at spotting complexities that others might miss, and superb with difficult clients.’
‘Elizabeth Nicholas is one of the most adept and accomplished private client practitioners I work with. I have recommended her countless times on difficult matters requiring sensitivity and responsiveness.’
‘The team are very holistic and have great personal empathy to our vulnerable client group who have had life changing injuries. Law is an area we are becomeing more familiar with but Penningtons are very professional providing human clarity to a difficult subject to both clients and staff.’
‘Hannah Gearey and Liz Garvey have a very effective approach to their work which makes a difference to our client group. What ever the issue we seem to have, there is an expert within the organisation to give clear direction, clarity and efficiency.’
‘They provide a very comprehensive service across the full breadth of private client concerns. If clients need additional support with legal matters outside of this, Penningtons always demonstrate an extremely joined up approach to this.’
‘I work with Lucy Edwards quite frequently. She is thoroughly engaging, professional, polite and hard working, always going the extra mile where necessary.’
Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP handles matters including succession planning, inheritance tax issues, and the preparation of wills and pre-nuptial agreements. The firm's client base comprises HNW individuals throughout the South East, with a particular strength in advising clients with agricultural assets. Bruce Clarke joined the team in September 2019 from Lee Bolton Monier-Williams. Clarke became head of the practice in March 2020, while former head Max Wright continues to lead the firm's Brighton office.
‘Very professional, thorough with details and explained the processes and potential pitfalls that could occur with the situation. The external professionals that were recommended by the team were also very professional and thorough with their detail.’
‘We dealt with Ian Best, who was friendly and patient. He explained in layman’s terms all the detail and was a good communicator. He achieved with his associates an excellent result.’
‘In a complex international UK court of protection issue over my PoA for my wife Max Wright guided and enlightened me and his book-keeping assistant was patient and understanding of my problems producing statements from foreign banks and producing a final account to satisfy the CoP. Without them I would have been in a very bad situation.”
‘The Rix & Kay team seem to know their clients really well. They take particularly good care with their most vulnerable clients.’
‘Excellent department organisation and clear hierarchy of responsibility.’
‘Outstanding ability to give clients confidence in grasp of the issues.’
TWM Solicitors LLP advises a client base of business owners, entrepreneurs, land owners and wealthy individuals from Surrey and London on estates and tax planning. Many of these matters have international aspects, such as overseas assets. The team also handles Court of Protection work, later life planning, and estate administration. Caroline Foulger is a Chartered Tax Advisor and became head of the practice in August 2019. Allison Crossman is another key contact, and is recognised by clients as 'effective and efficient'.
‘I am retired so no longer use TWM for litigation but when I was working I always instructed them for repossession orders and did so for many years. They were efficient and professional, which is why I asked them for help when I was dealing with my father’s estate. I did not compare their quote with other firms. I trust them to do a good job for a fair price.’
‘My recent dealings were with David Lunn who was calmly professional. He explained everything in detail and dealt with all matters punctiliously and in a timely manner. I cannot compare him with competitors as this is the first probate I have had to deal with.’
‘A friendly, efficient service, with a pragmatic approach to dealing with clients’ matters.’
‘Allison Crossman has been very helpful in dealing with client’s affairs in an effective and efficient manner. She has also recognised areas where other professionals are best placed to assist the client (eg with tax matters) and is an excellent team builder.’
Based in Bromley, Batchelors' team advises clients on a wide variety of matters including probates, tax panning, wills, and Court of Protection matters. The practice is led by Sarah Hickey and consultant Nick Stotesbury. Hickey is praised for her 'professionalism and knowledge', while Stotesbury has 40 years' experience and moved from the partnership to become a consultant in 2019. Edward White is also a key member of the team, with experience in both non-contentious and contentious work.
‘The members of the private client team have a commendable attention to detail and experience in handling 1975 Act claims (the type of claim on which I have been instructed by them). Cases are well run, correspondence is well pitched and counsel is involved at an early stage.’
‘I recently had a small issue which arose on a matter with one of the solicitors of the firm who was doing some work for me. As I knew one of the partners of the firm who had previously done some work for me in the past, I bought the matter to his attention. He dealt with my issue very promptly, and was able to have the matter resolved in a very professional manner. I have dealt with other solicitor firms in the past, and I must say none of them can live up to the level of service that I receive from Bachelors. I’m so confident when working with this firm that I have recommended them to other members of my extended family.’
‘As someone who has had limited cause to use the legal profession I found those I was in contact professionally very knowledgeable and helpful whilst maintaining very good communications at all times. Specifically Annmarie Jones and Debra Kentman.’
‘The team is led by Edward White who is himself an extremely knowledgeable individual in all aspects of private client work but in particular complicated trusts and large estate work. He uses the team effectively for a range of client work. Those clients I have introduced remain happy with the service they receive. Annmarie is the one many of my clients warm to due to her professionalism and personal nature. Edward White and I now work on a number of clients together to efficiently reduce their inheritance tax issues but also look after others who require special care. He has a caring nature and understands clients.’
‘Sarah Hickey and Edward White always follow up on unresolved issues. If I call, if they are unavailable, they are very quick in getting back to me when they are free. I think this is vital in maintaining a good relationship. Always willing to go the extra mile to get the desired outcome for all parties.’
‘I have built a relationship and trust with Sarah Hickey over many years dealing with my father’s and my own affairs. She is very friendly, kind and patient – patient in terms of dealing with elderly clients, and also answering all my questions and clarifying my understanding during a very difficult time. I value her professionalism and knowledge, providing several options on how to progress probate and her prompt and informative responses to questions – and her support with a lengthy and complex process.’
‘I have worked with Edward White and Nick Stotesbury. Both are immensely experienced, eminently sensible and know how to run an Inheritance Act dispute, whether acting for a claimant or defendant.’
‘I refer to Mr Nick Stotesbury and Mr Edward White. Both very straightforward to deal with, friendly and well-informed. There were no delays, the matter being resolved in a timely manner. They are the most efficient solicitors I have dealt with hitherto.’
One of the largest private client practices in East Kent, Girlings advises on the full range of matters across tax, estates, and probates. The firm's clients include entrepreneurs, companies, and landowners. The team also has a dedicated Court of Protection service, and is active in working with charities. Lesley Rushton has a proven track record in working with vulnerable individuals. Charlotte Nock is fluent in French, frequently advising on matters related to French law. Senior associate Louise Wilson specialises in wills and probate.
‘Girlings’ private client team were approached with a request to provide our charity with ten free Will appointments to offer to our supporters to encourage gifts in Wills and Legacy gifts. Girlings kindly agreed to our request and their representative took the time to attend the launch event and find our more about the charity and the services we provide.’
‘Girlings has a very professional and understanding group of staff. They are very knowledgeable. From answering the telephone or returning telephone calls, nothing is too much trouble. There are many solicitors firms close to us which are constantly attempting to gain our business and we have had dealings with many if not all of these companies but they can never compare with Girlings. All of the receptionists are polite and helpful, I cannot fault any of the Girlings staff and I have been using them for over 30 years and find them to be extremely consistent.’
‘Girlings respond quickly to communications and I have received consistently good service over many years when dealing with property sale and purchase, probate and wills. I’ve stayed with Girlings in preference to other solicitors as they outperform in all aspects including availability, fees, communication and simple explanations.’
‘Girlings are at the heart of the community in Herne Bay and we have been delighted to work with them on many occasions because of this. The work they do in supporting us is second to none. The team are very knowledgeable in their fields and by far the best I have worked with. They are professional and experienced in the information they give and services they offer.’
‘Lesley Rushton’s experience in the drafting and revision of some recently prepared Wills made me feel completely reassured at what is usually a difficult decision to make. She made a home visit for which there were no additional charges, and was completely unfazed by my indecision and therefore made a difficult ordeal seem a simple and normal procedure – which is as it should be! Miss Rushton also dealt with my initial enquiry promptly and appointments and discussions were also confirmed in writing. This was most reassuring for an elderly and vulnerable client!’
‘Christopher Neeve is a very human and personable face within the complexities of legal practice. He shows great understanding and empathy where circumstances are difficult.’
‘I have always found Lesley Rushton extremely competent and efficient, and her calm and friendly demeanor always inspires confidence. My dealings with other members of her team, particularly Dee Delo, were very satisfactory.’
‘Lesley Rushton provided a full professional service to supporters through the free will scheme and was prepared to provide the service at the clients’ home if they were unable to travel in to the office. Lesley was prompt to reply to emails and telephone calls, freely giving advice and answering questions asked by supporters.’
Herrington Carmichael LLP advises high net worth clients, many of whom have long-term relationships with the firm, on probate, estate planning, and later life matters. Practice head Anthony Tahourdin is highly experienced in this area. The team also handles contentious work related to wills and trusts; Frankie Tierney is a key contact.
Other key lawyers:
‘Overall I find the team at Herrington Carmichael is very professional, helpful and knowledgeable. ‘
‘A very approachable and knowledgeable team.’
‘Tony Tahourdin has a wise head on his shoulders.’
‘We have always found the firm to be very knowledgeable, professional and efficient.’
‘Tony Tahourdin is a highly experienced and knowledgeable solicitor. His knowledge of the trust and probate sector is detailed and comprehensive and his advice is very sound.’
Led by Brian Tan and David Chandra, Judge & Priestley LLP's personal tax, trusts and probate expertise benefits high-net-worth clients in the South East, particularly focusing on estates. The team is capable of handling cross-border matters and is especially active in estates with French aspects. In 2019, the firm acquired Pritchard Joyce and Hinds, and handles Pritchard's client base from its new office in Beckenham. Chandra is an 'absolutely pragmatic and strategic lawyer' while Tan is highlighted as 'exceptionally knowledgable'.
‘The team is proactive in client care, and always go the extra mile to deliver on service. The team is well run and second to none when it comes to technically complex issues. It has a range of private client specialists who work effortlessly and seamlessly together, complement each other effectively.’
‘David Chandra stands out to be an absolutely pragmatic and strategic lawyer. He possesses unrivalled talent in handling the most complex situations with utmost ease and skills. Brian Tan is very approachable and provides excellent, timely service- very client focused and great on detail.’
‘Brian Tan could not have been a better person to have as an advisor to me, he was sympathetic to my circumstances, exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful and together with Chyi his assistant were very efficient.’
‘David Chandra is intellectually really strong and instills confidence and reassurance in his clients.’
‘David Chandra is well connected and excellent leader, and only recruits and trains the brightest young lawyers to work in this team ensuring best outcome for the clients. Brian Tan is smart and compassionate who provides an attentive, tailored service.’
‘The Private Client team at Judge & Priestley are my first point of contact whenever I require legal advice and I consider the partners my trusted advisers who always fight my corners. This department consists of a team of exceptional lawyers with real depth and wealth of knowledge guiding me through personal taxation matters and administration of a very complex estate with utmost patience and care.’
‘It is worth mentioning how quickly they respond to my queries and provide me with constant updates without prompt.The team have consistently demonstrated they genuinely value me as a client and care about my wellbeing.’
‘The firm gives excellent advice with the expertise to serve a broad spectrum of clients. I refer my more complex cases to them knowing that they will provide the best outcome for the clients. An excellent firm all round.’
Morrisons Solicitors LLP
Morrisons Solicitors LLP advises private individuals and small business owners on a variety of matters, including tax and estate planning, the tax implications of residence, and succession planning. In addition, practice head Holly Chantler is known for her work in the Court of Protection; she is a panel deputy, a director of the Professional Deputies Forum, and has written several books on the subject.
‘Practical and commercial with excellent client handling skill.’
‘Kellie Williams-Jauvel is extremely hardworking and very commercial.’
Renaissance Legal specialises in working with disabled and vulnerable clients on matters including wills, trusts and Court of Protection applications. The firm advise a number of charities; in 2019 they were appointed as legal advisors to the National Autistic Society and Sense. Practice co-heads Philip Warford and Katherine Miller are both highly recommended by clients; 'both are exceptionally sensitive to the needs and challenges that vulnerable clients and their families'.
‘This company were outstanding in their knowledge surrounding disabled children’s trusts. They were able to explain the setup in layman’s terms. They were empathetic and understood the emotional difficulties surrounding the set up. Other firms we approached were corporate and wooden with no emotional understanding of how difficult this can be for parents. They were also unable to explain everything in layman’s terms.’
‘Excellent! From start to finish working with Renaissance Legal is a great experience. They are friendly, professional and make you feel at ease straight away. The work is done to a high standard and on time. Their fees are also very fair and most competitive. I am particularly impressed with the way they handle vulnerable beneficiaries with more patience and respect than I have seen from any other professional adviser I have worked with. Their benefits team are also very knowledgeable and keen to help.’
‘When we prepared our wills and trust we dealt with Katherine Miller. I had been to a talk a few years previously that she had given so it was reassuring to see a familiar face. During the process she was extremely professional, approachable and empathetic, always willing to clarify points over the telephone. When Katherine met our autistic son, she talked to him in a manner that he understood.’
‘Both Philip Warford and Katherine Miller are exceptionally sensitive to the needs and challenges that vulnerable clients and their families face. They always communicate with clarity, making difficult subjects and conversations accessible to all.’
‘Philip Warford is extremely professional and attentive. He makes the vulnerable beneficiary feel at ease straight away. The parents of one beneficiary with learning disability were concerned about their daughter meeting Philip. Previous experience with legal professionals had not ended well. They were naturally concerned when Philip asked to see their daughter alone. They needn’t have worried. When they came back into the room Philip and their daughter were laughing and joking. They could not praise him enough – he is a natural with vulnerable beneficiaries and has the right skills to deal with them with extreme patience, respect and empathy. I won’t go anywhere else when I have to deal with vulnerable beneficiaries.’
‘Philip Warford is a gem. He has sorted out and continues to work on a complex trust situation with thoughtfulness, knowledge and expertise. We all look forward to our meetings with Philip.’
‘Katherine Miller was superb from the very start. She was patient and very knowledgeable. She was empathetic and could explain everything very clearly and concisely. She was very approachable, friendly and yet extremely professional. I had to approach her on a number of occasions about tiny queries, including form filling and she continually returned my calls or emails without delay (or any sign of annoyance). No query was too big or too small for her.’
‘Philip and Katherine are efficient, responsive, and helpful to work with and we know from feedback we’ve received about our advice service that they are kind, reassuring, and explain things simply to parents and carers looking to plan their futures.’
Castlewood Trust & Company
National Autistic Society
Thackray Williams LLP
Based in Bromley, Thackray Williams LLP advises high-net-worth clients on wills and tax planning. The team also acts for clients in the Court of Protection. The practice is led by Elliot Lewis and Anthony Macey, who offer broad expertise in this practice area. Senior associate Zahra Kanani also acts in a variety of areas, and is particularly specialised in advising on Sharia-compliant wills.
Other key lawyers:
Warners Solicitors offer clients expertise in a range of areas of private client work. They handled matters ranging from deeds of variation to Court of Protection matters, to the creation of deeds of advancement. Many of the firm's Kent-based clients have assets abroad. The practice is led by Mary Shaw, who has broad expertise in this area; Philip Raggett handles tax planning, Gail Hall specialises in wills and assisting vulnerable clients, while Martin Terrell is known for his work in the Court of Protection.
‘Richard Theobald is thorough, efficient and appreciates how expensive the legal profession can be.’
‘The team was very well led by a very experienced solicitor in Gail Hall. When she needed to draw in property experts and financial help they were all on hand in the company we had a very good service from them.’
‘Gail Hall was the lead partner and excellent on all matters relating to the probate of my mothers account. She was also very good at guiding us through a very difficult time following the death of my mother.’
‘Tracy Sales in particular was fantastic. She was like a terrier, never giving up until she had run to ground every last detail. She hounded banks and insurance companies until every last penny owed to the trust was shaken out of them. Communication was excellent. I was kept fully informed at every stage of the proceedings. The whole process was concluded far faster than I had anticipated and at a very reasonable fee.’