Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 in South East

Blandy & Blandy LLP

Blandy & Blandy LLP is a go-to full-service law firm for HNW individuals and handles contested and landed estates as well as matters where companies and foreign jurisdictions are involved. The ‘outstanding and kindJonathan Gater leads the team and is a specialist in trust and estate administration, powers of attorney and court of protection matters. Caroline Casagranda and Elizabeth Short focus their practice on inheritance tax planning, taxation of estates and their administration as well as powers of attorney. Particularly recommended for her expertise in handling matters for the elderly comes Louise Nelson.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Gater; Caroline Casagranda

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Short; Louise Nelson; Garahm Benwell

Testimonials

‘Personable, knowledgeable and supportive.’

‘Jonathan Gator is outstanding and kind. Elizabeth Short – pleasant, personable and diligent. Both seemed to care about the quality of their work and service more than their fee position.’

‘Jonathan Gater is a very experienced lawyer, he is personable, always makes himself available, and combines friendliness with outstanding professionalism.’

‘Excellent people to deal with, the practice has a wealth of knowledge in-house and their communication and liaison has always been to a very high standard.’

‘Graham Benwell has always been excellent – very professional, wise advice, timely in responses, and all round very good indeed.’

‘Excellent, creative and dedicated private client team that puts the needs of their vulnerable clients at the centre of their work. The team has taken its responsibilities to demand the very best care and support for clients without mental capacity to make health and welfare decisions.’

‘There is never any difficulty in contacting Graham Benwell whatsoever, and his responses have always been prompt and accurate. I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending his services.’

‘Experience, knowledge, up to date understanding of the ever changing rules, proactivity.’

Boodle Hatfield LLP

Boodle Hatfield LLP leaves ‘no stone unturned‘ as it manages large estates, particularly for artists, and the team has extensive complementary expertise in legal issues surrounding art collections. Out of London, Andrea Zavos heads the practice and the Oxford team is led by Natasha Hassall who handles on- and offshore trusts, tax planning, and wills, including heritage property matters. Eleanor Sepanski leads the firm’s philanthropic work as well as onshore UK tax, private client, and trust work. Recent arrival Clare Stirzaker is a specialist in succession planning and related legal and taxation issues.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Zavos; Natasha Hassall

Other key lawyers:

Eleanor Sepanski; Clare Stirzaker; Simon Rylatt; Simon Macallum

Testimonials

‘Sara Macallum, Simon Rylatt, and Eleanopr Sepanski are all extremely helpful – no matter what the issue. They are very skilled in the tax and private client areas and leave no stone unturned in their service to the client.’

‘Good sound advice, highly responsive to clients needs, they go the extra mile.’

Field Seymour Parkes LLP

A strong tax offering relation to lifetime advisory work, substantial experience in estate administration, often multi-jurisdictional, and close cooperation of the contentious and non-contentious team characterize the practice at Field Seymour Parkes LLP, led by Rob Crowther. Crowther advises on the full range of private client issues, but has particular expertise in asset protection and tax planning. Corporate clients are a focus point of Sue Vandersteen who advises on wealth preservation and inheritance tax mitigation. Recommended especially for his proficiency in lifetime tax planning comes Ben Oliver.

Practice head(s):

Rob Crowther

Other key lawyers:

Sue Vandersteen; Ben Oliver; Mandy Clarke; Olly Davidson

Testimonials

‘Rob Crowther is an extremely talented lawyer with a lightness of touch that belies his expertise. Very good with clients. Ben Oliver is a super technical trusts and tax lawyer who offers great service to clients.’

‘The team demonstrates real strength and depth. They give excellent client service and are very supportive to professional colleagues, including counsel. The quality of work is outstanding.’

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP is a full-service, go-to firm for HNW clients in respect of their estates, financial assets, and taxation and has particular expertise in dealing with vulnerable individuals and where IP is involved, for example authors, scientists, and artists. Sarah Foster leads the practice out of Oxford. The trusts, estates, and tax team in Oxford is jointly led by Lisa Mark-Bell and Louise Lewis, the former is a specialist in tax planning, whereas Lewis’ practice is strongly focused on vulnerable clients. Daniel Boyle advises owners of businesses and agricultural property on succession planning. Intergenerational wealth structures are managed by Nigel Roots who also regularly acts as a trustee.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Foster

Other key lawyers:

Nigel Roots; Lisa Mark-Bell; Louise Lewis; Charlotte Digby; Daniel Boyle; Sally Goodger; Melanie Williams

Testimonials

‘Speed of response is excellent. The advice is practical. Many of the lawyers have wider knowledge beyond the law, for example finance and taxation, that enables them to create effective solutions.’

‘Lisa Mark-Bell is both a lawyer and a chartered tax adviser, it was reassuring to deal with someone who has such knowledge in depth of financial matters, taxation as well as the legal implications of estate planning. She is constructive, practical and effective. She is positive, professional and achieves her deadlines. It was a pleasure to work with her.’

‘I found the team very cohesive and diverse in the different areas of professional needs for the work to be successfully completed.’

‘Charlotte Digby is an excellent professional who has provided me with support all along giving me sound and considered legal advice on any query I have. Her knowledge and attention to detail are to be highlighted.’

‘The team has a full understanding of situations and treat transactions personally. Technical advice is supplied and in a constructive & practical manner.’

‘Nigel Roots is vastly experienced with a broad range of knowledge. Lisa Mark-Bell is very able indeed and inspires confidence.’

Gardner Leader LLP

Jolyon Barton leads the team of inheritance tax specialists at Gardner Leader LLP and the team has additional expertise in handling matters for vulnerable clients, a particular specialism of Penny Wright ‘s practice. Robert Jobson   advises clients on everything pertaining to trusts and frequently gets appointed as a trustee himself. Head of the Inheritance Protection team Niamh Minihane focuses on advising the elderly, and Richard Mead comes particularly recommended for his expertise in estate planning.

Practice head(s):

Jolyon Barton

Other key lawyers:

Robert Jobson; Penny Wright; Richard Mead; Niamh Minihane; Lucy Butcher; Hannah Wallbridge; Ash Sanger

Blake Morgan LLP

Succession and tax matters are focus points of Blake Morgan LLP. The team also handles estate, probate, and trust administration for rural estates and business owners and court of protection proceedings. In addition, practice head Susannah Treherne has extensive experience in handling matters pertaining to client’s mental capacity, including application to the Office of the Public Guardian. Both James Greig and Kathryn Woodward handle inheritance taxes, Greig also manages probates and trusts whereas clients may benefit from Woodward’s certification as a notary public.

Practice head(s):

Susannah Treherne

Other key lawyers:

James Greig; Kathryn Woodward; Stephen Evans; Andrew Lane; Amy Larcome; Mary Mulhern

Testimonials

‘Stephen Evans was both highly professional and personable; a combination you rarely find. We always felt he was calmly in control and very knowledgeable. He kept us up to date and and was honest and open about where we would have to be patient and why. We felt grateful throughout for having such a “safe pair of hands” to lead us through. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.’

‘Suzannah Treherne is very approachable and easy to deal with. Good rapport and prompt actions and responses. Exceptional response when urgent action required.’

‘Stephen Evans was excellent in every respect. His advice was at once solid and imaginative. He was timely in his responses, actually answered the questions, his documents were flawless, he resolved several difficult issues and the upshot is that in the longer term he will save us a great deal of money and headache.’

‘James Greig presents himself as a family lawyer and this has proven to be true, attentive, helpful, efficient and understanding.’

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell advises later life and vulnerable clients as well as business owners on planning out their personal wealth; a focus point of head of team Sarah Phillips is the intergenerational aspect of the practice. Senior associate Sarah Paton handles wills and trusts as part of a wider tax planning for her clients. Recently, associate Alistair Robertson-Göpffarth has joined the department. Previously at Moore Barlow, he is a notary public and chartered tax advisor and brings with him particular expertise in advising clients in the armed forces.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Stewart Stretton-Hill; Sarah Paton; Alistair Robertson-Göpffarth

Testimonials

‘Stewart Stretton Hill has a brilliant legal mind, is personable and dedicated to protecting the best interests of vulnerable clients. A committee member of the local branch of Solicitors for the Elderly.’

‘Exceptional knowledge of trusts, deputyships and attorneyships.’

‘The stand-out partner who has been my absolute saviour over the past year is Sarah Philips. She has been continually positive, upbeat, helpful, and friendly, and I could not have done without her help and advice.’

‘The experience that I have had with Irwin Mitchell is that as a team the practice works together extremely well, there is always someone to refer to, or support to be offered if the person I am trying to contact is unavailable at the time.’

RWK Goodman

RWK Goodman handles high-end tax planning both domestically and off-shore, as well as estate administration. One such expert is practice head Tom Gilman, he handles estate planning as well as complex trust structures and trustee appointments. Chris Wilson comes equally recommended for his expertise in trust arrangements as well as tax planning. Recently, the firm has further bolstered its ranks with the arrival of Sophie-Marie Clark from Blandy & Blandy LLP.

Practice head(s):

Tom Gilman

Other key lawyers:

Chris Wilson; Calum Campbell; Jan Tyley; Sophie-Marie Clark

Testimonials

‘They are accessible, knowledgeable and speak in plain English. Turnaround in terms of answering queries/questions is second to none.’

‘They are knowledgeable and seemingly at the forefront of, and changes in the law, that impact clients ensuring good client outcomes.’

‘We had the pleasure of working with the team behind Tom Gilman (our main contact). The team is exceptional in every way. Highly competent, knowledgeable, professional and great value for money.’

‘We have worked with Tom Gilman and he is by far the most knowledgeable and outstanding solicitor we’ve worked with, so much so we would never work with another going forward. We cannot thank Tom enough, without his help we would be lost, we trust him explicitly and highly highly recommend to others.’

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP administrates estates and trusts for HNW clients often with multiple jurisdictions involved and offers both individual trustee appointments as well as the use of a trust corporation. A specialist in matters pertaining to HNW individuals, Charlotte Dunn leads the team and focuses on landed estates and heritage assets. Melissa Maple advises on succession issues, including long-term protection and devolution of assets.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Dunn

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Maple; Gareth Wallis; Angela Bowman

Testimonials

‘What makes this practice outstanding is its width and depth of experience. Potential clients would be grateful to know that all and any aspects of their cause will be dealt with comprehensively. Its strength is in the diversity of its specialists and their willingness to cooperate with each other. As to people – all I have had dealings with have been most helpful, informed yet gracious in their communications.’

‘Angela Bowman carried me throughout the case. Melissa Maple was very hard-working.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a corporate client on actions taken by trustees acting ultra vires.
  • Advised high-profile and ultra-high-net-worth client regarding a migration to the UK and in relation to anonymity and assets purchased outside the family trust.

Spratt Endicott

Spratt Endicott advises on estate administration, taxation, wills, and trusts, working closely with other departments within the firm to service corporate and farming client with additional expertise. Practice head Lucy Gordon in particular is a specialist in matters pertaining to agricultural clients as well as HNW individuals. Renowned in the market for his expertise, founding partner David Endicott handles wills, trusts, charities, and personal tax.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Tom McInerney; Emma Rolfe

Testimonials

‘Emma Rolfe & Tom McInerney are both extremely knowledgeable and have a warm and understanding demeanour when dealing with all clients. Emma particularly is a calming and caring influence on clients.’

‘Lucy Gordon is an excellent lawyer who will find a sensible solution to any problem and do so in the most efficient manner. I do not hesitate to recommend high-net-worth individuals to her for advice. The work is done effectively and efficiently and the clients love her.’

‘The client service was excellent. Any time I have needed to speak to a member of staff it has been easy and I’ve not been left waiting for contact. They have made me feel that my needs were important to them.’

‘Lucy Gordon – knowledgeable, reliable, efficient and simplifies the complex. Lucy is accountable and reliable.’

‘I particularly value the personal relationship, continuity, and knowledge of my family over many years. I have always had excellent, prompt service at what I believe are reasonable prices.’

‘We have found the personnel we dealt with to be friendly, knowledgeable, and professional.’

‘Spratt Endicott is a unique practice. Efficient, friendly, with an amazing work ethic that we have never experienced with other practices.’

The Burnside Partnership

With ‘a peerless client service ethic’, The Burnside Partnership led by Anna Burnside advises its HNW client base on wills, trusts, Court of Protection issues,  probates, powers of attorney, and estate planning. In regards to the latter three, associate Alison Craggs‘ practice is particularly notable. Tara McInnes has recently joined from Shoosmiths LLP and focuses on building up the firm’s contentious probate mediation service. Previously at Osborne Clarke LLP, Matthew Briggs has joined the firm’s new London office.

Practice head(s):

Anna Burnside

Other key lawyers:

Tara McInnes; Daniel Vernede; Matthew Briggs; Alison Craggs

Testimonials

‘Genuine expertise, commitment, excellent technical skills, and a peerless client service ethic.’

‘Anna Burnside is by some way the most trusted private client lawyer I know. I have referred many clients to her and all are uniform in their praise for Anna’s dedication, expertise and, very importantly, her humanity and sensitivity.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for a HNW non-domiciled client in relation to setting up a charity to help meet their philanthropic aims.
  • Representing the head of a farming family in relation to inter-generational planning advice, inheritance issues, and tax optimization.
  • Advising a businessman with an interest in a large privately owned trading company.

BDB Pitmans

Sheilagh Magee heads up the team at BDB Pitmans, offering  additional expertise in property law when dealing with landed estates. A highly active member of the team, senior associate Alexander Morgan handles wills, trusts, and is particularly notable for his work regarding multi-jurisdictional tax and estate administration.

Practice head(s):

Sheilagh Magee

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Morgan

Testimonials

‘Sheilagh Magee and Alexander Morgan are two very involved lawyers.’

‘All I can say is that I have found the BDB team, led by Sheilagh Magee, have been extremely efficient during the whole procedure. Correspondence was prompt, clear and well explained and I always felt confident in their abilities and professionalism at all times. All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their friendly and reliable services.’

‘Highly professional organization showing integrity, compassion, respect, and full knowledge of current legal and legislative rights and aid available.’

‘I have only had dealings with Sheilagh Magee and have found her to be genuinely concerned for her clients welfare and she has gone above and beyond the remit of her role in my opinion.’

‘The practitioners I deal with have excellent oral and written communication skills. Professional, precise and clear. I have worked closely with Sheilagh Magee. Very innovative and devised methods of assisting clients at all times during the Covid crisis. She has a large client basis and is very committed to the needs of her Court of Protection patients.’

‘Alexander Morgan has acquired a confident manner of dealing with areas of foreign law cases supported by an increasing depth of knowledge in this specialist area of probate.’

‘The trusts and probate team have been impressive in their efficiency, knowledge, and energy and perseverance in collaborating with sub-continental lawyers and pursuing my objectives, particularly given the difficulties with local legal requirements experienced along the way. Their use of technology in communicating with organizations on the other side of the world is also most efficient.’

‘There appears to be ongoing technological training at all levels. The private client department is very well aligned to deliver a comprehensive service for what its customers wish.’

Boyes Turner

Boyes Turner plans and administrates estates including advice on taxation and drafting wills. Additionally, practice head Paul Lowery is a notary public, handles probate work, and is a specialist in inheritance tax. Senior associate Ally Tow is highly active in the team and particularly recommended for her contentious practice.

Practice head(s):

Paul Lowery

Other key lawyers:

Ally Tow

Testimonials

‘The firm has a well-deserved strong reputation for contentious trusts and estates matters.’

‘I have worked with Ally Tow. She is very bright, competent and easy to work with.’

Brethertons LLP

Linda Jones leads Brethertons LLP‘s private client team which handles the administration of trusts and estates, powers of attorney, wills, and Court of Protection matters. Emma Stewart broadens this scope with her additional expertise in taxation of estates.

Practice head(s):

Linda Jones

Other key lawyers:

Emma Stewart

Testimonials

‘The firm is very professional and approachable. They are a big part of the local community, getting involved in networking, events and also put on events to educate their connections. They really care about what they do, about supporting their clients and the local area.’

‘Emma Stewart is wonderful to work with. She is very professional and knowledgeable as well as being friendly, approachable and caring. Emma is always available to give advice if I have a client query and is upfront about her costs.’

‘Very personable and approachable, unlike many law firms they are down to earth and provide excellent practical advice.’

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Philip Collins leads the team at Winckworth Sherwood LLP, where he focuses on disputes for private individuals and charities, concerning estates, trusts, and wills. The firm handles trusts, estate planning, probate, and HNW residential matters, both on the contentious and non-contentious side.

Practice head(s):

Philip Collins

Other key lawyers:

Alison Talbot; Samantha Warner

Testimonials

‘Communication was prompt and clear throughout.’