Blandy & Blandy LLP is highly regarded for its full-service private client offering and act for high-net-worth individuals and high-value trusts and estates, many of which involve offshore assets and knowledge of foreign jurisdictions. Practice head Jonathan Gater specialises in trust and estate administration, Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection matters. Caroline Casagranda advises on the preparation of wills, probates and the administration of taxable and non-taxable estates, and is supported by Louise Nelson and Elizabeth Short. Consultant solicitor Graham Benwell is also recommended, with extensive experience in the field of tax and estate planning involving wills and trusts.
Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 in South East
Jonathan Gater; Caroline Casagranda
Other key lawyers:
Graham Benwell; Louise Nelson; Elizabeth Short
‘A really strong practice with high professionalism, fast and clear service and very good advice’
‘I am able to say that whenever I have needed the services of Blandy & Blandy I have been excellently looked after by Graham Benwell and his team. They have always been professional, approachable, accurate and trustworthy and worthy of recommendation to others.
‘The work of the partners on producing a Deed of Variation on my father’s will and the winding up my mother’s later estate was top class.’
‘Jonathan Gater is an engaging and very pleasant individual with a positive approach. I have absolute confidence in him.’
‘Professional, personable, approachable and a pleasure to work with’
‘An excellent firm with a long and prestigious history in the region.’
‘Partner-led with a great deal of private client experience, very focused on private clients in a busy town full of lawyers that appears to have a leaning towards corporate work.’
‘Jonathan Gater – hugely knowledgeable, explains matters clearly and with a sense of humour.’
Boodle Hatfield LLP's private client and tax team includes 'excellent lawyers at the top of their practice area'. The team advises on some of the largest landed estates, international wealth structuring mandates, art and luxury assets, and philanthropic projects. Leading the Oxford practice, Natasha Hassell handles onshore and offshore trusts and advises some of the country's leading estates in complex tax planning, including heritage property issues. Andrea Zavos heads the team in both London and Oxford. Eleanor Sepanski was promoted to partner in May 2020 and has significant experience in international tax planning and philanthropy.
Andrea Zavos; Natasha Hassall
Other key lawyers:
‘Excellent lawyers at the top of their practice area. Quick response time and effective case management. ’
‘Eleanor Sepanski is top-notch. She is skilled, responsive, sensitive to time spent and client-focused. ’
‘The team takes time to understand your requirements, are all extremely approachable and work with you to find solutions for your organisation. They think beyond the presenting issue and will highlight potential future considerations which, for a business that takes a long-term view, is helpful. The partners appear to be well connected in their fields providing broader insights. ’
‘Natasha Hassall is very bright, technically extremely strong, explains complex problems simply and works with you to provide practical solutions. Puts clients at ease, listens, collaborates, sets out issues from different perspectives and reassures.’
‘ The team are all very experienced and effective in providing advice which spans many different areas. They work extremely well together.’
Field Seymour Parkes LLP offers high-quality advice across the full range of private client matters, including estate administration of high-value, multi-jurisdictional estates, trust administration, and inheritance and capital gains tax planning. The team also regularly advises on capacity issues, including preparation of LPAs and submission of both non-contested and contested deputyship matters to the Court of Protection. Practice head Rob Crowther's 'wealth of knowledge is second to none' and has expertise in providing complex tax planning and asset protection advice to high net worth individuals. Sue Vandersteen's specialisms include wealth preservation and inheritance tax mitigation. Chartered tax adviser Ben Oliver is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Sue Vandersteen; Ben Oliver
‘The team has an excellent level of technical expertise in private client matters. They provide first-rate customer service to clients. They think outside the box and go the extra mile in the time and effort they put in.’
‘Rob Crowther is charming, urbane and technically excellent. He goes above and beyond for clients. His level of engagement with HMRC for his clients in private client disputes really marks him out. His determination achieves results that others would not.
‘Ben Oliver is a responsive solicitor always ready to think outside the box. His creative approach marks him out, and achieves great results for clients.’
‘The team has excellent knowledge to be able to deal with high-value and complex estates. They make life easier for the families involved in the day-to-day administration of estates and family trusts. They also have the capacity to challenge contentious probate matters where many practices lack these skills. ’
‘Rob Crowther’s wealth of knowledge and diplomacy is second to none when advising on complex wills and inheritance tax planning matters. Rob, together with Ben Oliver and Sue Vandersteen, has an ability to always find the best outcome in a professional but robust manner giving confidence to those they act for. With Ben’s expert tax knowledge being a chartered tax adviser and Sue’s expertise in the agricultural space, the three of them make for a formidable team giving the practice the ability to advise on a wide range of matters other practices would have to perhaps subcontract out to other firms.’
The Oxford team at Freeths LLP handles the full range of private client matters. Rachael Oakes and Nigel Roots jointly head the practice; Roots specialises in managing and acting as a trustee of intergenerational wealth structures for private individuals, with a particular emphasis on complex trust reorganisation. Jane Maitland advises high net worth individuals, members of the aristocracy, company directors and farmers on estate planning whilst Sarah Foster deals with multi-party and cross-jurisdictional disputes. Lisa Mark-Bell and Daniel Boyle are also recommended, advising on landed estates and acting for facilities in creating lifetime trust arrangements respectively.
Nigel Roots; Rachael Oakes
Other key lawyers:
Jane Maitland; Lisa Mark-Bell; Sarah Foster; Daniel Boyle
‘Good collaboration between team members in the practice. Very strong in trusts and wills/probate. ’
‘Expertise, transparency, efficiency and communication. ’
‘A very personal and professional approach. Always available and trusting’
‘Daniel Boyle is an excellent professional providing the best advice in a very understanding and committed fashion.’
‘We found them very efficient, professional and understanding of our needs. They carried out the work very much to our satisfaction.’
‘Freeths have retained the old-fashioned virtues: they maintain good communication and transparency, particularly with respect to billing; and they are responsive to enquiries and professional in their dealings with clients. More than once, they went the extra mile to get a transaction over the line and always remained patient and courteous in their dealings with sometimes difficult clients.’
‘Nigel Roots is extremely experienced and knowledgeable in trust matters. He has a relaxed and easy style which I am sure inspires confidence in clients who can feel (rightly) that their affairs are being handled well.’
‘The team at Freeths went over and above our expectations and provided timely, effective and accurate answers. The service provided by the firm has been paramount in building a relationship between our two businesses and we envisage future referrals, where possible. During the pandemic, it was difficult to adapt at first, but the guidance provided by Freeths led to an almost seamless administration of an extremely complicated estate that spans three jurisdictions.’
Gardner Leader LLP has a full-service private client offering, frequently handling multi-jurisdictional work and providing advice on domicile and other international estate planning issues. Practice head Jolyon Barton works on high-value estates often involving high-profile public figures, preparing wills, LPAs and discretionary trusts. The practice 'shines above all with their approachable and friendly way of doing things' and in dealing with sensitive mental capacity issues, an area in which newly appointed partner Niamh Minihane and Penny Wright are stand-out individuals. Robert Jobson is also recommended, regularly helping clients establish new trusts as well as to administer existing trusts.
Other key lawyers:
Robert Jobson; Penny Wright; Niamh Minihane
‘Niamh Minihane is super efficient in her response times. She is a consummate professional, quickly developing the level of trust critical to the lawyer/client relationship. She is also a compassionate person which when dealing with the bereavement of a client’s loved one, is a great quality to possess. I have recommended Niamh to other members of my family and friends.’
‘The firm is approachable and friendly. Despite the significant growth of the firm, it has remained true to its values. Billing is transparent and I feel that I am in good hands. I trust this firm.’
‘A multi-disciplinary practice in the M4 corridor who are strong in all areas. The trusts and probate practice gives a reliable personal service that clients like.’
‘Partners are always accessible and Rob Jobson, in particular, an oasis of calm when things start to get fraught.’
‘The team provides a very human, client-centric service, of excellent well informed professional advice combined with empathy and a true interest in their clients. ’
‘Penny Wright leads by example. She is very sensitive and patient with difficult client situations and needs. She is knowledgeable, professional and experienced, but also particularly good at dealing with vulnerable clients, including the bereaved and those diagnosed with dementia and ill health. She explains complicated legal matters clearly and the advice is suited/adapted for each individual client. She can adapt her style to suit each client’s individual needs. This is based on a true human interest and empathy. ’
‘We have dealt with and referred clients to various firms of solicitors over the last few decades, good, bad and indifferent and for once, Gardner Leader shines above all with their approachable and friendly way of doing things. Nothing is too much trouble and I’ve got full confidence they will deal with my clients properly. ’
‘The private client team have a diverse team and when working with them it is evident that members of the team are involved in a case due to the specialist knowledge they can bring to that case.’
Blake Morgan LLP's private client team offers a full range of traditional succession and tax services, including wills, powers of attorney, estate planning and complex estate administration that incorporates foreign assets and/or business interests. Susannah Treherne leads the team and has considerable expertise in handling issues related to clients' mental capacity and making applications to the Office of the Public Guardian and the Court of Protection. James Greig specialises in trusts, high-end probate and inheritance tax planning. Senior associate Kathryn Woodward acts for the trustees of a local charity on a pro bono basis. Alison Craggs left the firm to join The Burnside Partnership in September 2020.
Other key lawyers:
James Greig; Kathryn Woodward; Stephen Evans; Thomas Djan-Krofa
‘Easy interaction. A minimum of fuss and bother to the client.’
‘I have been struck by the friendliness, expertise, efficiency and effectiveness of the individuals at Blake Morgan Oxford with whom my wife and I have interacted during the past year: James Greig, Thomas Djan-Krofa and Kathryn Woodward. ’
‘James Greig is very good at attention to detail.’
‘Good cooperation with the update of our wills and putting together LPAs.’
‘As executors, we decided to ask Blake Morgan to help us through a complicated process after my parents’ deaths and prior to probate. Stephen Evans has been a delight to work with: professional, thorough, accessible, calm and kind when the circumstances have been extremely challenging and upsetting for us, and extremely patient when explaining with clarity the detailed legal situation we have been dealing with. He has taken a lot of care to be transparent about costs throughout and the firm’s attitudes towards billing have also been exemplary.’
‘Susannah Trehearne stands out – she is very thorough and empathetic.’
Irwin Mitchell's Thames Valley practice has specialisms in four sectors; owner-managers of businesses, senior executives and professionals; landed estates; later life clients, vulnerable clients and their families; and global wealth. Practice head Sarah Phillips predominantly advises business owners and professionals and has a particular interest in intergenerational wealth planning. Andrew Parry specialises in complex trusts and landed estates whilst senior associate Stewart Stretton-Hill's practice focuses on helping those who are preparing for or experiencing diminished mental and physical capacity. International wealth structuring specialist George Merrylees is also recommended. Associate Sarah Paton is 'exceptional'.
Other key lawyers:
Andrew Parry; George Merrylees; Stewart Stretton-Hill; Sarah Paton
‘We have been very impressed with the service. They are very clear in the advice they give. They make sure they understand why you are taking the action you are, advise whether it is the most effective way of achieving your stated aim, and then guide you through the relevant process to achieve that aim. ’
‘As a client, I have been very happy with the outstanding service this team has provided from the very first meeting and with ongoing affairs to date. I was recommended to this team as I was not happy with the services I was receiving from my lawyers at the time and can honestly say I have never looked back.’
‘This team have acted with compassion, at what was a very stressful time for me and my family by providing expert advice and guiding us initially through the legalities of the probate procedure and interpreting/understanding wills and more latterly with setting up trusts.’
‘Sarah Paton is exceptional in my opinion and the main reason I remain with Irwin Mitchell. She was my first contact at Irwin Mitchell and I found her to be approachable, knowledgeable, efficient but above all she listened and was kind and understanding. After our first meeting later that same day Sarah went to visit my father in the hospice, which surpassed my expectation of any lawyer.’
‘Very knowledgeable and experienced team. Good communication – they use language clients can understand. ’
‘Sarah Philips is outstanding. ’
‘Outstanding knowledge of, and sensitivity to, the particular challenges facing elderly clients with multiple vulnerabilities. A creative and proactive approach to solving complex family issues. Excellent collaboration with non-legal and non-financial senior life specialists and a very good understanding of when such external expertise is required. ’
‘Stewart Stretton-Hill – outstanding legal knowledge and a proactive collaborator with other experts to ensure not only the legal protection but also the well-being of his elderly clients. The team is responsive and has managed the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions extremely well.’
Royds Withy King
The team at Royds Withy King handles high-end tax and offshore tax planning as well as estate planning that often has a business, agricultural or trust element. Practice head Tom Gilman operates with 'utter professionalism' and has particular expertise in estate planning for private individuals and families in addition to acting as a trustee for both family and charitable trusts. Jan Tyley, who advises US clients on complex tax and trust structures, and Calum Campbell, who has specific expertise in inheritance and trust disputes, are also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Calum Campbell; Jan Tyley; Chris Wilson
‘Its central Oxford location makes it both convenient and accessible. The size of the firm is just right: not too big, not too small. Professionalism is the best word to describe the firm and also it has a pleasant and approachable vibe which is so important for clients looking for personal advice about their wills and so on. ’
‘The individual I would like to single out is Tom Gilman. For a few years now I have valued and appreciated greatly his good sense, his efficiency and his insightful manner. He succeeds in behaving with both compassion and charm whilst never letting go of utter professionalism at all times. ’
‘Royds Withy King provides an intimate understanding of their client’s needs. Client made to feel their legal requirements of utmost importance to RWK. ’
‘Individuals I work with give 100% attention and understanding of my legal requirements.’
‘I found Jan Tyley to be exceptional in the level of service she provided. Jan is extremely hard-working, always responsive, professional and pleasant.’
‘A very competent and diligent team, who undertake good quality work in this area. They have interesting and often unusual work. The team of individuals is more than capable of dealing with the work and performs a high level of service in doing so.’
‘Calum Campbell is an individual that I have worked with who stands out. Exceptionally hard-working with excellent knowledge of the law. He has a very approachable manner with clients.’
Spratt Endicott offers a full range of private client services from drafting and storing wills to wealth management and managing trusts. The team has 'an exceptional combination of depth and breadth of expertise', with niche specialisms in contentious trusts and probate, acting for vulnerable individuals, agricultural business owners and families with overseas assets. Lucy Gordon heads the practice and is an expert in agricultural and rural matters. Founding partner David Endicott, now a consultant to the firm, is another key practitioner and typically deals with high value and complex matters, with many years of expertise handling complex wills, trusts, charities, personal tax and probate matters.
Other key lawyers:
David Endicott; Emma Rolfe
‘We find the team at Spratt Endicott to be knowledgeable, approachable, and (very distinctively amongst their peers) willing to give time to you as a fellow professional to inform and add their expertise regarding client cases that required knowledge that we may be lacking.’
‘It is the personal aspect which makes them special, and we are proud and 100% confident to send any clients their way for legal advice.’
‘Spratt Endicott have always been very easy to work with, quick turnarounds, professional and friendly. I have used them for wills, probate and property sales/purchases, and advice on a dispute with a supplier. I have also recommended them to other people. ’
‘The team are extremely efficient in every aspect of what they do. I mainly correspond with Emma Rolfe, who is extremely supportive and always willing to help where possible. The team are easy to communicate with and turn around any necessary information in a very quick time.’
‘The team with whom I have had dealings, have been professional, efficient and diligent whenever I have made contact. ’
‘The crucial person for me has been Lucy Gordon. It has been a pleasure to deal with a senior solicitor of her calibre. Her combination of high intelligence, complete professional focus, and ease of manner is just excellent. She inspires trust, and deserves it.’
‘Emma Rolfe is attentive and also respectful to clients. Her work is attended to promptly and she has never made mistakes on my clients.’
The Burnside Partnership
The Burnside Partnership is a niche private client law firm advising on wills, trusts, probate, inheritance tax planning, estate administration, lasting powers of attorney, deputyship and Court of Protection issues. Practice head Anna Burnside, supported by her sister Della Burnside are the 'very successful driving forces behind the business.' The rapidly growing team has further strengthened its offering through the hires of Alison Craggs from Blake Morgan LLP in September 2020 and Tara McInnes from Shoosmiths LLP in February 2021. Alongside its lawyers, the team has also bolstered its tax expertise by recruiting chartered tax advisors and a tax professional.
Other key lawyers:
Della Burnside; Alison Craggs; Tara McInnes; Daniel Vernede
‘City levels of expertise and service in the private wealth field’
‘Anna Burnside and Della Burnside are the very successful driving force behind the business.’
‘Exceptional technical ability, highly personable and bespoke service, understanding of different lived experiences of clients and true understanding of diversity.’
‘The Burnside Partnership has expanded. However, unlike other firms with this ambition, they have done so with their client’s interests in mind, rather than their own. This has led to a team of first-class lawyers intent on offering incisive and meaningful service.’
‘Dan Vernede has been quite outstanding in his support for me when my husband died, and extremely efficient at dealing with his will and mine. My family have all met him and regard him highly. This is important when it comes to matters of POA as it inevitably will. I trust Dan completely to give me the best advice and to follow my instructions.’
‘Very friendly, easy to understand and concise tax advice.’
‘Anna Burnside is an exceptional lawyer because of her ability to communicate so well. She can seamlessly place a nervous client at their ease, whilst gently guiding a more ‘bullish’ individual in the right way. She is patient and has an exemplary way of explaining not just the letter of the law, but its consequences for a family’s plans and future. Leadership and culture always start at the top of a firm and Anna’s style and approach permeate throughout the firm. Courtesy and politeness, timeliness and efficiency are in the DNA of the firm.’
‘Tara McInness. Tough, commercial, compassionate and tireless. Tara manages her cases with good humour even in the most difficult and stressful litigation. ’
- Represented the head of a significantly wealthy farming family in relation to inter-generational planning advice, inheritance issues, and significant tax optimization issues that needed to be addressed.
- Advising a successful businessman who holds an interest in a large privately owned trading company on the tax effectiveness of his proposals to sell shares and establish a family trust.
- Acting for a high net worth non-domiciled client in relation to setting up a charity to help meet their philanthropic aims.
BDB Pitmans' private wealth team in Reading advises on all structures of trusts, estates, wills and lasting powers of attorney for high-net-worth clients. Practice head Sheilagh Magee has a background in property law and uses this expertise to advise clients with landed estates and complex probate and estate management cases. Associate Alexander Morgan is also recommended; he has a particular interest in tax and estate administration matters with cross-border elements.
Other key lawyers:
‘They are a safe pair of hands for testamentary and trust work. A long history in this sector and clearly very good in-house training. I find their advice is very clear with strong reasons for arriving at their conclusions. They like working as part of a professional team and share their work with the other professions involved. They are one of the firms I think about when I get the chance to help clients with the choice of solicitors.’
‘The team are extremely knowledgeable and efficient and have always answered any questions I have had without hesitation. They are very approachable – not always the case with lawyers!’
‘The firm’s billing practices have been completely transparent and the level of detail has been excellent. I cannot think of any way their service could be improved.’
‘ Alexander Morgan is really efficient, professional, knowledgeable and very approachable, nothing is too much trouble for him. Any calls I make are dealt with immediately, or as soon as possible.
‘I felt great confidence in the team in general but in particular with Sheilagh Magee. Not only was her professionalism self-evident but I also felt seen as an individual with my own specific set of circumstances. All too often, that need for a relationship is ignored but it is fundamental in establishing the confidence that a client can have in their team. I received not only professional help but also an unexpected degree of kindness and empathy, which was very much appreciated.’
‘BDB has a strong private client department and appears to be well driven by technology.’
‘I have worked closely with Sheilagh Magee and Alex Morgan. Sheilagh is totally committed to her clients’ needs and has a large client base. Very knowledgeable and has a wealth of experience including in Court of Protection matters. For a young practitioner, Alex has developed a considerable experience of non-UK domiciled matters.’
Shoosmiths LLP has a strong national presence with numerous offices across the UK working collaboratively. In the Thames Valley, Melissa Maple and Angela Bowman are the main practitioners. Maple is supported by associate Alex Deller-Rust in advising UK and international clients on the long-term protection and devolution of their assets through estate, succession and tax planning. The team continues to grow, hiring private client partners Stephen Patch and Rachael Brook from Woodfines LLP and Ramsdens Solicitors LLP, respectively and new Court of Protection head Sue Bowler, who joined from Coffin Mew LLP. Charlotte Dunn heads the practice from Milton Keynes.
Other key lawyers:
Melissa Maple; Angela Bowman; Alex Deller-Rust
‘The solicitors that I have worked with at Shoosmiths have all been concerned to show client care through understanding gained by open conversation with me as a client.’
‘Alex Deller-Rust was very competent and provided clear advice at all stages of the work undertaken. The effective use of email demonstrated that it is straightforward to settle an estate without the need to visit Shoosmiths’ offices. Shoosmiths made it easy to also pay fees/costs online.’
‘Highly technical team. They are adept at multi-jurisdictional planning which is key to entrepreneurs today, knowing where to seek advice etc. They are adept at company structures so that inter-generational wealth is preserved’
‘Melissa Maple actually cares about the clients. Takes her time to ensure that work is done correctly and carefully. Each piece of work is done to the highest standard’
‘They have a lot of strength in depth.’
Cancer Research UK
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Help for Heroes
Macmillan Cancer Support
The Donkey Sanctuary
- Advised high profile individual at significant risk of kidnap, with family net worth of over £4bn, on options for property ownership.
- Advised widow and surviving children of longstanding corporate client on all aspects of management of his estate worth £150m following his death including Will rectification to save £60m in tax, and tax planning for their future.
- Advised Z Corp regarding £50m sub-fund of an Employee Benefit Trust which went through the HMRC EBTSO process a few years ago.
Led by Paul Lowery, Boyes Turner deals with estate administration, preparation of wills and estate planning for high net worth individuals. Senior associate Ally Tow is 'exceptional' and leads on the firm’s growing contentious trusts and probate work.
Other key lawyers:
‘Well-established firm with excellent client relationships.’
‘We have belief that those we have dealt with are diligent and function with complete integrity – they are always polite, open and considerate.’
‘This is a high quality, innovative team delivering the kind of work and client service normally only experienced from niche London specialist private client firms. Intelligent, accessible, hardworking and capable of handling the esoteric while being approachable and client friendly. ’
‘Ally Tow is exceptional. I often recommend her to friends, clients and other legal professionals. She is never fazed, can handle all types of clients and inspire confidence, is always prepared to get stuck in, deadlines are never a problem and she is both innovative and prepared to take on unusual issues. She exhibits the perfect degree of robustness without straying into aggression or unnecessary confrontation. ’
‘The firm has a strong trusts and probate practice, with a good home counties client base.’
Brethertons LLP acts for high-net-worth individuals, including those with agricultural property, business assets and life-changing serious injuries. Director of legal services Linda Jones heads the practice and is supported by Sarah Horton, an expert in inheritance tax calculations and intestacy administration, and Emma Stewart, who predominantly deals with the administration of estates and will drafting.
Other key lawyers:
Sarah Horton; Emma Stewart
‘It is clear Sarah Horton knows her job. Questions are not answered with ‘I will clarify later’ or ‘it depends upon’. Just simple explanations in easy-to-understand language. It is clear the practice is used to dealing with ‘ordinary’ people.’
‘This practice is professional and does really care about doing the right thing by their clients. They make processes seamless and are prompt and efficient, yet warm and sincere, in their communications.’
‘They are exceptional at what they do. I felt safe in very capable hands.’
‘They engage with our clients in a professional and speedy manner, providing our clients with legal services that clients understand and require’
‘Having worked with many law firms for our clients over 30 years, the team we work with at Brethertons are miles in front of the completion. They understand and value the need to work together with other professions to achieve the correct and very best outcome for their clients’
‘A lovely team to deal with. They always show a great deal of empathy and do go the extra mile to ensure their clients fully understand the advice that they are being given.’