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United Kingdom > South East > Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
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Who Represents Who

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Blandy & Blandy LLP's private client team gives a ‘very good level of service’ and is highly regarded for its work in wills and estate administration, trust and estate planning, tax, and powers of attorney, while recently expanding its ability to service Court of Protection matters with the hire of specialist solicitor Jemma Pyne from Slater and Gordon. Firm managing partner and team head Jonathan Gater has been instructed on a number of complex estate administrations, as well as continuing to assist with Court of Protection matters. Caroline Casagranda advises on tax planning, wills, probate and estate administration. Casagranda’s recent highlights include acting on the administration of an estate passing to a minor beneficiary and advising on the effects of lifetime gifts for inheritance tax purposes, co-ordinating her advice with that of Australian lawyers and UK accountants. Other important figures for the team are consultant and tax and estate planning expert Graham Benwell and dispute resolution solicitor and notary public Philip D'Arcy for contentious probate instructions.

Leaders in their field’, the private client team at Boodle Hatfield LLP has an ‘excellent offering’ with ‘a particularly collegiate approach to working’. The team is primarily known for its work with landed estates, family businesses and offshore trusts on complex succession arrangements and tax planning, frequently of a multi-jurisdictional nature. Oxford office head Fiona Graham (‘engaging, with an eye for detail’) advises a range of UK and non-UK domiciled high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) on tax, trust and succession matters, and has been advising a valuable landed estate in the South West on a strategic tax plan for the estate following the death of its patriarch. Natasha Hassall (‘very competent, with very clear thinking and good technical and client skills’) advises on long-term estate planning and has niche expertise in assisting with heritage property issues, with a recent highlight seeing her advise the trustees of a major estate on a complex strategic restructuring, which required complex analysis of various reliefs and considerations as to valuation. Senior associate Eleanor Sepanski has expertise in charity matters, offshore structures, and cross-border tax and estate planning, and receives a considerable number of referrals from US law firms.

The ‘outstanding’ team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP possesses experts in wills and estate planning, estate administration, trust administration and Court of Protection issues. Practice head Sue Vandersteen advises on the preparation of wills and trusts and administration of trusts, wealth preservation, inheritance and estate planning, while also possessing experience on issues peculiar to charities, partnerships, LLPs and farming estates. The ‘compassionate, efficient, professional and approachableRob Crowther handles tax planning for complex estates, lasting powers of attorney, estate administration and Court of Protection work, among other matters, while also specialising in contentious probate matters. Tax partner Phillipa Roles works within the private client team to achieve appropriate tax planning solutions for business owners and corporate clients. Other key team members include consultant Katherine Riley, senior associate Mandy Clarke and associates Caroline Whitaker  and Jasmine Walsh.

Freeths LLP has a ‘hugely experienced and knowledgeable team, but without the expense of a London firm’; it is renowned for its advice on trusts and tax for HNWIs, complex probate and trust administration, and Court of Protection matters, among others. National private client practice head Nigel Roots ‘runs a team of excellent individuals who deliver great results’, with his time split between the firm’s Oxford and London offices, acting for major educational institutions, landed estates and clients requiring multi-jurisdictional advice. Oxford office private client head Jane Maitland ‘is experienced and gives sound practical advice’, acting for HNWIs, company directors, farmers and academics on estate planning, as well as acting as executor and trustee of estates and trusts and as a court-appointed administrator in contested estates. Managing partner Sarah Foster is highly recommended for contentious trust and probate work.

Blake Morgan LLP handles a broad range of succession and tax services out of its Oxford office, assisting clients with inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning, high-value estate administrations, and complex will drafting, and advising owner-managed businesses on the link between their business interests and family affairs. The team also specialises in applications for grants of representation. James Greig specialises in trusts, high-end probate and inheritance tax planning, with niche areas of specialism including section 11 IHTA maintenance trusts and advice on the restructuring and termination of trusts. ‘Very thorough and efficient’ associate Alison Craggs leads the Oxford wills team, while senior associate Kate Allred and associates Philip Allen and Kathryn Woodward are other important team members. Solicitor Robert Mulvany recently joined from Morrisons Solicitors LLP.

The 'excellent' Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors has ‘exceptional industry knowledge’ and is ‘consistent in its service delivery, with no surprises or missed deadlines’. ‘Knowledgeable and helpful’ head of tax planning, wills and probate Peter McGowan's 'approach is sensible, straightforward and thorough'. McGowan specialises in inheritance and capital gains tax planning, will drafting and all aspects of trust and estate administration, and has a significant involvement with the firm’s specialist contentious inheritance team. Stephanie Rose specialises in wills, probate and estate planning, with further expertise in advising clients on eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare and local authority-funded care, and is recommended as ‘courteous, helpful, professional and efficient’.

Very knowledgeable and efficient’ senior associate Caroline Van Zyl  heads Penningtons Manches LLP's Oxford office private client and tax team and specialises in all matters relating to estate planning, succession, tax and trusts. Van Zyl receives a considerable number of instructions from clients with overseas interests or foreign domicile considerations. Senior associate Louise Lewis joined the firm in May 2017 from Blake Morgan LLP and holds detailed knowledge of complex estate and trust administration and tax planning, while also receiving instructions to draft wills, set up trusts and put in place powers of attorney. Associate Iain Managhan is noted for his advice on mental capacity issues, with recognition for his expertise as a member of STEP’s global steering committee for mental capacity.

The 'excellentRoyds Withy King team is headed by the ‘thoughtful and helpful’ Tom Gilman, who is recommended for his ‘excellent advice’ and ‘very good client manner’. Gilman principally advises on estate planning for private individuals and families and on complex trust structures, while also acting for the trustees of local hospice Helen & Douglas House. Associate Jan Tyley has experience in offshore tax and trust structures, particularly in US-related matters. ‘Perceptive and personable’  Bridget Maier ‘grasps complex matters swiftly and is very good at dealing with challenging family situations’. Solicitors Chris Wilson and Ellen Boesen are other names of note at the firm.

The 'first-class' Spratt Endicott provides an ‘exemplary’ service, with ‘excellent knowledge and appropriateness of advice’. ‘Experienced’ managing director David Endicott ‘has a fantastic understanding of private client issues and tax’, and gives ‘clear and simple answers, with a lack of legal jargon when responding to technical questions’. Endicott deals with high-value and complex instructions relating to wills, trusts, charities and personal tax for a broad range of clients. Director Lucy Gordon is ‘knowledgeable and very prompt with her advice and delivery’, with ‘extremely good client-facing skills’. Gordon spends a significant part of her time focusing on elderly client law. Tom McInerney leads the team in Bicester and is ‘extremely personable’. Solicitor Emma Rolfe recently joined the team in the firm’s Bicester office, having previously been with Campbell Law Solicitors.

Providing ‘superb advice’, the members of the team at Boyes Turner are recommended by one client as ‘probably the most understanding, amenable and efficient, dedicated, diligent and competent practitioners we could have asked for’. Paul Lowery heads the wealth protection practice at the firm, while Ruth Meyer leads the Court of Protection group. Lowery is supported by associate Sophie Martin, whose ‘strength is her depth of knowledge and her personality; nothing is too much trouble for her’. Recent work for the department includes advising on wills, estate administration and domicile issues.

With ‘very capable, experienced and competent staff’, Gardner Leader LLP is recommended for its ‘quick response times’ and ‘personal and friendly touch’. Practice head Jolyon Barton has a broad practice, advising on inheritance tax and capital gains tax mitigation, wills drafting, trust creation, Court of Protection matters and powers of attorney. The ‘very friendly, knowledgeable, calm and excellent with clients’ Robert Jobson advises on all aspects of inheritance planning, and regularly assists with the establishment of new trusts and the administration of existing trusts. Penny Wright has ‘an incredible depth of knowledge and a wealth of experience’, which includes wills, probate, charitable trusts, and complex international estates and domicile issues. Wright and senior associate Niamh Minihane are the key contacts for mental capacity matters. The team was strengthened in 2017 by the hire of senior associates Marie Verney and Richard Mead. Senior associate David Finnerty is noted for his specialism in assisting clients with questions surrounding their digital assets.

The 'exemplaryHerrington Carmichael LLP private client team provides ‘an outstanding level of service with prompt signposting and referrals to other team members as required’. Areas of specialisation for the practice include estate administration, lifetime tax and estate planning, and work with elderly and vulnerable clients, including Court of Protection matters. ‘Very impressive’ practice head Anthony Tahourdin provides ‘timely, detailed, relevant and helpful responses’, while being ‘very friendly and approachable’. Litigator Robert Syms joined the practice in June 2017, bringing experience of applications for substitution or replacement of executors, claims under the Inheritance Act, and advice on mental capacity and undue influence issues in connection with wills. Senior solicitor Paul Denza specialises in detailed advice on complex tax and trust problems. Solicitors Andrew Smith and Faye Smith, both ‘dependable and trustworthy professionals’, are noted.

Always keeping the client informed’, Irwin Mitchell offers ‘courteous, appropriate, prompt and efficient service’ with ‘transparent costings’. Practice head Sarah Phillips ‘is the consummate professional with the bonus of a caring nature’. Phillips specialises in advising business owners, entrepreneurs and other individuals on complex wealth preservation, taxation and succession considerations. Andrew Parry joined the practice from Hunters incorporating May, May & Merrimans and leads on a number of matters for landed estates requiring tax planning considerations alongside colleagues in the firm’s property, company/commercial and family law teams. Senior associate Stewart Stretton-Hill specialises in mental capacity matters, advising attorneys and deputies on relevant tests, applicable duties and powers under the Mental Capacity Act and Court of Protection applications.

The 'efficient and well-run' Brethertons LLP ‘goes that extra mile dealing with sensitive matters’. Daniel Boyle joined the firm in August 2017 as wills, trusts and probate area practice head. Boyle has a particular interest in lifetime tax planning and a background in advice to farming families and lifetime inheritance tax planning with property, while also handling Court of Protection and professional trusteeship matters. Senior associate Emma Stewart ('professional, yet friendly') and associate Sophie Wales are both noted.

The specialisms of the Pitmans LLP private client team include advice to wealthy families on UK and offshore assets and trusts, complex probates, insurance and pensions-based trust/tax advice and planning, probates with Inheritance Tax Act claims over land, and estates with real property and other assets in several jurisdictions. The practice is led by the ‘particularly knowledgeable and very experienced’ David Ainslie, who is singled out for inheritance tax, succession planning and other private client matters. Sheilagh Magee specialises in complex UK and cross-border probates, with one notable instruction seeing her handling the UK probate for a former pop star with a California will and trust conflicting with a UK will. Alexander Morgan, recently promoted to senior associate, specialises in will drafting, complex inheritance tax returns and administering estates.

Shoosmiths LLP acts for a range of clients on trusts and estate planning instructions, including business owners, sports personalities and wealthy individuals, while notably being seen as the “go to” adviser for high-value lottery winners. Melissa Maple divides her team between the firm’s Reading and London offices and heads the firm’s wealth protection team in the South, advising farming, agricultural, business and entrepreneurial clients on estate, succession and tax planning. Charlotte Dunn heads the firm's national wealth protection practice.

Outstanding’ niche private client firm The Burnside Partnership advises on wills, trusts, probate, inheritance tax planning, estate administration, powers of attorney, deputyships and Court of Protection matters; its practitioners are recommended as ‘experts in their field, providing high-quality advice’. Name partner and founder Anna Burnside ‘is calm, thorough and knowledgeable’, with ‘a very high level of legal expertise, combined with practical common sense and flexibility’. Burnside and Fiona Wheeler (‘a pleasure to work with’) are cited as having ‘client service which is second to none; every client is valued equally and treated with sensitive and genuine compassion’.

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