Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 in South East
Blandy & Blandy LLP handles a full range of matters for high net worth individuals and high value trusts and estates, many of which involve offshore assets requiring cross-border expertise. Practice head and managing partner Jonathan Gater specialises in trust and estate administration, Power of Attorney and Court of Protection matters, as well as serving as under sheriff for Berkshire. Caroline Casagranda advises on wills, probate and estate administration of taxable and non-taxable estates. Consultant Graham Benwell has significant experience in the field of tax and estate planning involving wills and trusts.
Other key lawyers:
‘The Blandy & Blandy private client (personal tax, trusts and probate) team offer a perfect balance of professionalism and friendly service. I have referred many of my clients to them and I have had nothing but glowing feedback.’
‘I have always found Jonathan Gater to be highly professional, trustworthy and dependable and this filters down through the whole team.’
‘The whole team are extremely knowledgeable and approachable, and have an ability to put clients at ease when discussing complex and difficult areas.’
‘I have complete confidence that they will immediately create a working relationship with any client referred to them, and explain the options and solutions to clients in a clear and transparent manner.’
‘A very experienced and personable team. Energetic and engaging to deal with.’
‘Well rounded and pragmatic approach to advice.’
‘A very friendly and large legal practice for Reading. Well respected locally.’
‘Caroline Casagranda is an approachable partner at the firm. Really succinct and to the point with clients. Always happy to go the extra mile where necessary.’
One of the leading practices in the region, Boodle Hatfield LLP demonstrates 'exemplary standards and assiduous attention to detail', advising on some of the largest landed estate, high net worth individual, luxury assets and philanthropic matters. Natasha Hassall is very experienced in dealing with landed estates, including heritage property issues. Associate Eleanor Sopanski has experience of international tax planning and philanthropy. Andrea Zavos is head of the private client & tax department and splits her time between Oxford and London. Fiona Graham retired in April 2020.
Other key lawyers:
‘I have dealt with Boodle Hatfield both as a private client and a trustee for a large landed family estate for many decades. BH have handled all matters professionally.’
‘Very good rounded private client practice with strong property and probate as well as tax. They provide individual attention not just teams of people.’
Field Seymour Parkes LLP handles a full range of private client matters, spanning tax and succession planning, wills, estate/trust administration, Court of Protection work and elderly client law. The team also works in conjunction with other departments to assist owners of SMEs on succession and tax planning as well as agricultural estates. Practice head Rob Crowther specialises in providing complex tax planning and asset protection advice to high-net-worth individuals. Ben Oliver, promoted to partner in 2019, has a particular speciality in lifetime tax planning. Sue Vandersteen advises in relation to wealth preservation and inheritance tax mitigation.
‘The team work very well together and are a proper team, with deep collective knowledge on estate practice, IHTA, wills and trusts. All the members respond quickly to emails and can often be reached by phone, not something that can be said of everyone with whom I deal.’
‘I have worked with Rob Crowther for many years and he is very caring and thoughtful about the client and my needs.’
Freeths LLP handles a full range of private client matters in an 'efficient, reliable and discreet' manner. Nigel Roots specialises in acting as a trustee of complex inter-generational wealth structures, with a particular emphasis on trust reorganisations for wealthy business-owning families and historic landed estates. Roots leads the practice along with Sarah Foster, who defends claims made against legal professionals with a trust or probate element. Jane Maitland advises high net worth individuals, company directors, farmers, academics and authors on estate planning. Director Lisa Mark-Bell is 'all one could hope for in a family solicitor'.
‘The team is well-organised and capable; and also well-lead by Nigel Roots.‘
‘Lisa Mark-Bell’s technical strengths are a given, particularly when considering the tax planning which goes alongside her legal advice. While she is able to deal with complex situations, I have also found Lisa to be very pragmatic and sensible in her approach to client advice, seeking efficiencies but not over-complicating matters. She has turned work around at very short notice for mutual clients and has never failed to deliver on demanding client requirements.’
Gardner Leader LLP's 'care and consideration of clients in distressing circumstances is second to none'. With a full service private client team, much of the work is multi-jurisdictional, including advising on domicile and other international estate planning issues. Practice head Jolyon Barton manages large estates, often on behalf of high profile public figures, preparing wills, LPAs and discretionary trusts. Robert Jobson operates a broad practice and acts as a trustee for complex high-value family trusts. Penny Wright advises the elderly and those with capacity issues. Senior associate Niamh Minihane leads the Inheritance Protection team in the Maidenhead office.
‘Solicitors who add value rather than process instructions of clients. They always challenge preconceived ideas of what steps should be taken.’
‘On the basis that technical knowledge is a given, it is Jo Barton’s bedside manner that sets him apart. His style is very calm and reassuring, which is appreciated. He deals with the legal and emotional aspects exceptionally well.’
‘They balance human care and empathy with providing the very best advice, adapted to each client’s need, their background and stage of life. I particularly respect the team and the practice for becoming Dementia Friends.’
‘Penny Wright has a caring, calmness to her whole demeanour, which acts to dissipate high emotion and bring focus to client meetings in a kind manner. She acts to advise, but also support clients emotionally to reach decisions most appropriate to them.’
Blake Morgan LLP's extensive private client offering includes lifetime estate and business planning for entrepreneurs and owner managers, advice on structuring and ownership, tax advice, as well as succession planning. Susannah Treherne leads the team, having joined from Slade Legal in November 2019, and operates a varied practice with a focus on contentious trust matters. James Greig specialises in wills, probate, power of attorney and inheritance tax matters. Senior associates Alison Craggs and Kathryn Woodward are recommended.
Having opened a Reading Office in 2019, Irwin Mitchell's tax, trust and estates team is able to advise private clients on wills, trusts, powers of attorney, pre and post death inheritance tax matters, capital gains tax, Court of Protection applications and probates. Practice head Sarah Phillips helps individuals and their families with all aspects of succession, tax and asset protection planning. George Merrylees is noteworthy for his cross-border work, frequently acting for French-speaking clients who have settled or are looking to settle in the UK. 'Exceptionally knowledgeable' Andrew Parry is also recommended.
‘The team are pro-active and always readily available. They are very willing to discuss issues on a no-name, no-fee basis to give an initial steer and build relationships, even if the matter may not produce fee earning instructions.’
‘Andrew Parry is excellent. He is immensely experienced and I know from his days at Hunters that he has vast experience of landed estates and similar and associated tax. Thoroughly recommended.’
‘Very efficient. They gave me confidence with what I asked of them.’
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP offers expertise in all matters relating to estate planning, succession, tax and trusts. The team provides 'extremely detailed and knowledgeable advice' to high net worth clients including entrepreneurs, academics and those with established family wealth. 'Exceptionally professional' Caroline Van Zyl leads the practice and advises on all aspects of personal wealth planning. An increasing number of her clients have interests overseas or foreign domicile considerations. Louise Lewis departed to join Freeths LLP in 2019.
‘Happy to explain everything at a level that I could understand and always smart and courteous.’
‘Caroline was exceptionally professional and fully grasped the complexities of our situation. We were kept informed throughout the process, which proved to be difficult and protracted. Caroline’s warm and friendly approach made a difficult situation more bearable.’
Royds Withy King
One of the largest practices in the Oxford area, Royds Withy King is known for its high end tax and estate planning offering complimented by offshore tax planning advice. Tom Gilman , who leads the practice, advises a number of high profile families and acts as trustee of a number of private charitable trusts. Associate Calum Campbell covers the full range of inheritance tax, disputed will and contentious trust matters, while Jan Tyley specialises in advising US clients.
‘Tom Gilman has a very good grasp of wills and lasting powers of attorney was able to suggest areas we had not thought about.‘
Spratt Endicott provides an 'excellent and intelligent service' to high net worth individuals, business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers, and agricultural workers. Lucy Gordon, who took over as practice lead in 2019, frequently assists clients on matters involving local authorities or Court of Protection work. Former head David Endicott deals with high value and complex matters, and holds significant expertise in wills, trusts, charities, personal tax and tax planning and probate.
‘The team here, led by Lucy Gordon, is very accessible and spot on with their advice. I always refer any private client work to them and it is always done exceptionally well.’
‘Lucy Gordon is the impressive director dealing with us. She is friendly but efficient and clearly on top of the legal detail and able to draft effectively. And she is able to give balanced personal advice in a way which is sensitive and helpful.‘
‘Spratt Endicott is the only firm which felt approachable to me, as a non-native speaker. Despite my language limitations, the team patiently helped and supported me throughout my difficult time. I was impressed with how speedily my calls were responded to – it gave me a great experience in the UK.’
‘David Endicott is terrific in getting across quite technical legal analysis of certain subjects. He can explain the unexplainable in clear layman’s terms.’
‘Lucy Gordon is distinguished in every way. Intellectually of the highest calibre, her knowledge of law appears infinite, and she deals effortlessly with every problem I throw at her. She always makes time to see me, if this is necessary, and, when appropriate, has proven to be a very comforting presence.’
BDB Pitmans provides 'accurate, timely and relevant' advice on all structures of trusts, estates, wills and LPAs for high net worth clients. Sheilagh Magee leads the practice and uses her background in property law to advise business owners and clients with landed estates.
‘Sheilagh Magee and Alexander Morgan are both first rate private client lawyers, with sound legal knowledge, considerable experience, and the ability to assess quickly and accurately what needs to be done in a given situation. Sheilagh is particularly good at applying common sense and practicality when giving advice and recommending courses of action.’
‘When I left my meeting with BDB Pitmans I felt I was walking on air. All my problems had been addressed and dealt with. And, having been recently bereaved, I felt the partner was so genuinely sympathetic and knowledgeable that I couldn’t help but be impressed. Subsequently I have been kept informed at all stages and costs are explained and are reasonable.‘
Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors advises on all private client issues. Peter McGeown heads the practice and specialises in will drafting, inheritance and capital gains tax planning. Stephanie Rose is experienced in advising the elderly.
Other key lawyers:
The Burnside Partnership
Specialist private client practice, The Burnside Partnership provides a 'responsive, friendly and courteous' service in relation to wills, trusts, probate, inheritance tax planning, estate administration, powers of attorney and Court of Protection issues. Anna Burnside leads the team, ably supported by twin sister Della Burnside. Daniel Boyle and Nadine Jayes arrived from Brethertons LLP and BDO accountants respectively in 2019 to add to the firm's tax offering.
‘The Burnside Partnership have a great team ethos and culture of professional excellence, putting the client at the heart of everything they do. What really sets them apart is their ability to communicate often very complex issues in a clear and concise way to clients, always checking and gaining understanding.’
‘I have found the team to be responsive, friendly and courteous. They have made what can be daunting and confusing seem straightforward and achievable.’
‘Anna Burnside – honest and practical advice, high technical ability and an ability to connect on a different level with each client.’
‘Highly experienced and approachable. Relate to the client at an appropriate level in order that the client fully understands their advice.’
Boyes Turner's primary focus is dealing with estate administration, as well as the preparation of complex wills and estate planning for higher net worth individuals. Practice head Paul Lowery has experience advising families with disabled children, and is frequently referred work from the firm's clinical negligence and court of protection teams.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team have all been very professional and efficient and a pleasure to be in contact with. It has been far easier to contact them than it can be with a smaller firm – even if the person I wanted to speak to was not available, I was always put through to someone else.’
Bonnetts Solicitors Limited
Based in Ascot, Bonnetts Solicitors Limited 'go the extra mile' to advise a local, high net worth client base on will drafting and estate administration, including those with an international element, as well as advising on complex family situations and capital gains tax issues. Graeme Black leads the team and regularly advises elderly clients.
Other key lawyers:
‘Graeme Black is a great all rounder with a real passion for his work.’
‘My family and I have been working closely with Bonnetts Solicitors for about 10 years. We have always found our dealings with them to be very professional, knowledgeable and efficient. They are a local firm with a very good local reputation for being efficient and helpful.’
‘Michael Calfe was great. My husband and I needed to create wills on a short timeline. Michael went above and beyond to take care of us quickly. I would look to use them for any future legal needs we may have.’
Brethertons LLP advises on wills, probate and estate administration for individuals of varying net worth. Newly-promoted Emma Stewart handles complex estate administration and inheritance matters. Partner Sarah Horton joined from Johnson & Gaunt Solicitors in 2019, while former practice head Daniel Boyle departed for The Burnside Partnership .
Herrington Carmichael LLP's team advises on a full range of private client matters. Anthony Tahourdin leads the practice and focuses on the administration of trusts and estates, including both pre and post-death tax planning.
Shoosmiths LLP utilises its numerous offices to provide an 'efficient and reliable' service to high net worth clients on the long-term protection of their assets through estate, succession and tax planning. Angela Bowman and Melissa Maple are the primary practitioners in the Thames Valley. Charlotte Dunn heads the team from the Milton Keynes office.
‘Shoosmiths are a highly reputable firm and their team of Private Client solicitors are amongst the best that I get to meet in London and the Home Counties.’
‘Melissa Maple articulates complex legal matters in a clear and concise manner and in plain English and has a relaxed demeanour and puts her clients at ease. Her considered approach helps clients understand the issues facing them and she makes them visualise matters.’
‘Polite. Reliable and efficient. Trustworthy.’
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