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Contentious trusts and probate in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP offers a full array of services related to disputed wills, trusts and estates on behalf of its high-value client base. The firm has significant experience in proprietary estoppel claims, Inheritance Act claims, and a variety of trustee matters on behalf of individuals, landed estates and charitable corporations. The well regarded Robert Horsey leads the disputed wills and trusts team while Kerry Morgan-Gould, who focuses on charities, leads the Trusts and Estates department. Barny Croft is also recommended for his work with succession disputes.

Practice head(s):

Robert Horsey; Kerry Morgan-Gould

Other key lawyers:

Barny Croft


‘They provide really focused, pragmatic advice to their clients, and are always looking to gain their clients a strategic advantage in litigation wherever possible. ’

‘Barny Croft is a highly knowledgable solicitor who thinks strategically and fights tenaciously to secure the best outcomes for his clients. He is excellent at inspiring confidence in his clients, gaining the respect of opponents, and providing clear and focused advice.’

‘A very strong team led by Robert Horsey and Kerry Morgan-Gould. Barny Croft is excellent too. There are clear specialists with strength in depth and they are a sensible and pragmatic team to work with and litigate against. ’

‘Kerry Morgan-Gould and Barny Croft, in particular, are clear communicators and clear experts in this field on law which makes working with them a pleasure. ’

‘Very innovative, close-knit team, with a great deal of expertise.’

‘The legal team as a whole provide the highest quality of care to support clients in a friendly and efficient manner.’

‘Extraordinary ability to take huge complexity and sift, filter and extract the really important stuff, frame it appropriately and explain to laypeople precisely how and why they were doing what they were doing.’

‘I would say though that Robert Horsey impressed me very much – he has an extremely agile mind, was patient, good-humoured and ever available, even at very short notice – and more than able to handle the intense, unusual and difficult personalities that my case involved with tact and good grace.’

Work highlights

  • Representing the claimants in a professional negligence claim against a firm of solicitors.
  • Acting to unravel the interests of the beneficiaries and trust assets under successive intestacies.
  • Acting in a proprietary estoppel matter in relation to farmland and two estates for an estate worth £4m.

Burges Salmon LLP

Specialists in high-value private wealth work, the team at Burges Salmon LLP represents individuals and families, including aristocrats and hyper-wealthy ex-pats, in the full array of contentious trust and probate matters. In addition to its high-value national level work, the firm has a strong local presence, in particular for its work with agricultural disputes. Kevin Kennedy and Justin Briggs co-lead the practice area, both of whom handle high stakes cases that are frequently international. Senior associate Caroline Emslie also has significant experience handling international disputes work as well.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Kennedy; Justin Brigs

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Emslie; Sian Edmunds


‘Sian Edmunds – fantastic to work with, very thorough, very bright.’

‘Absolutely at the top of the field in the South West – and indeed nationally.’

‘Sian Edmunds – legally and tactically astute, and not afraid to get stuck into the detail of a case.’

;What makes the Burges Salmon team stand out is how driven they are to support their clients in contentious trusts issues. They are insightful in their advice, and proactive in seeking solutions for complex and difficult situations. They never shy away from the difficult questions, and are accessible. The team is well structured and leveraged, with support and input at all levels. They are a pleasure to deal with.’

‘The team at Burges Salmon is second to none. The quality of advice given and their interpretation of the law is first class. I have not come across a team to match or exceed the high level of service and advice as that received from Burges Salmon.’

‘The Burges Salmon private client trusts team is exceptional, first rate from top to bottom. They have real expertise in what is a very technical legal area, a fantastic work ethic and great interpersonal skills – they’re a real pleasure to work with.’

‘Justin Briggs is really excellent, with a great strategic instinct combined with technical expertise.’

‘Caroline Emslie is exceptional, with excellent judgement, technical expertise and insight.’

Key clients

Earl of Plymouth

Work highlights

  • Instructed on behalf of an Australian beneficiary who was in dispute with a Swiss trust company, litigated in England with High Court and appeals judgements.
  • Advised the trustees of a landed estate on a number of cases relating to the trustees’ development of part of their trust assets.

Foot Anstey

Leveraging strong relationships with its agricultural, tax and inheritance practices, Foot Anstey offers a full array of contentious probate services to its clients. These include high net-worth individuals, charities, trustees and trust corporations located locally and nationally. Lucy Gill heads up the practice, advising charities and individuals on a variety of inheritance disputes issues. Also recommended are managing associate Alexandra Rogers, who specialises in complex agricultural trust and probate matters, and Emma Facey, who advises charities on issues with trusts and legacies.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Gill

Other key lawyers:

Alexandra Rogers; Emma Facey; Elizabeth Ware


‘We felt the team guided us through a unique and traumatic experience. We found them sympathetic to all our needs and concerns. ’

‘We appreciated their helpfulness and flexibility with regards to billing. The people who really stood out were Lucy Gill and Elizabeth Ware.’

Work highlights

  • Represented the successful claimants, Sarah Edworthy and Jane Goss-Custard, at a seven-day trial concerning the validity of Lord Templeman’s last will.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP is regularly instructed on a variety of high-value trust and probate matters, including disputed wills, trusts, and legacies. The firm works with a wide variety of clients, including local individuals, high and ultra net-worth families, charities and financial referrers, drawing on experience from its corporate practice for clients with major corporate assets. It also handles a notable amount of international work, much of which is led by international tax and succession specialist Jennifer Ridgway. The well regarded Tony Cockayne heads the practice area, while associate Jasmine Ivory specialises in high-value charities work. Holly Mieville-Hawkins joined from Enable Law as head of mental capacity in June 2021.

Practice head(s):

Tony Cockayne

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Ridgway; Jasmine Ivory; Alice Daniels; Holly Mieville-Hawkins


‘The team is first-rate; it has huge experience in dealing with contentious trusts and estates disputes and is able to draw on its excellent non-contentious and corporate teams where cases have cross-over in these fields. It has the strength and depth of a London firm whilst having the flexibility and freshness of approach of a regional firm. They are a dedicated, well-organised and highly successful operation. ’

‘Tony Cockayne is an outstanding leader; he has unflagging energy and an unfailing ability to get excellent results for his clients. He tackles all disputes with a commercial, practical and strategic approach. He has a brilliant team behind him- Jasmine Davies is an absolute star with fantastic attention to detail and a great rapport with clients. Will Coon is fast gaining great experience of high value and difficult disputes and is a reliable and assiduous team-player.’

‘Regionally based firm but with expertise of a Central London practice. Competitive on fees, approachable associates and partner. Able to support with areas other than Contentious Probate when required.’

‘Jasmine Ivory, Tony Cockayne and Lisa Benham are extremely approachable and knowledgeable in the field of contentious probate. Provide clear advice and keep you regularly updated. A lovely team to work with.’

‘They are very friendly and approachable and are happy to assist on all matters, large or small. Tony Cockayne heads up the team with great energy, enthusiasm and positivity. The advice we receive is clear and robust. They are all happy to take the time to explain the complexities of a case and the advice we receive from them is clear and robust.’

‘Michelmores has proved to be a modern, empathetic law firm with highly skilled specialist teams. The collective ’

‘Jasmine Ivory was my day to day contact and undertook the majority of the groundwork to prepare my case for mediation. She was meticulous, methodical, experienced, and very considered in her practice. Her knowledge of case law and ability to prepare a compelling case was excellent.’

Key clients

Cancer Research UK

RWK Goodman

With an emphasis on work from London through the M4 corridor, the team at Royds Withy King advises a variety of clients on contentious trust matters. Its clients include a mixture of individuals and charities. The firm places a strong emphasis on mediation to avoid expensive trial work for its clients. Amanda Noyce heads the team, with a wide array of contentious trusts and probate experience, while senior associate Calum Campbell specialises in claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act of 1996.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Noyce

Other key lawyers:

Calum Campbell; Mike Muston


‘From the start of my consultation with Amanda Noyce, she demonstrated empathy for the situation her new client was in.  At every point, she was reassuring, showed a genuine concern for my situation. In fact, she inspired confidence and positivity in me. So genuine was her manner, Amanda with myself, she felt more like a member of my family rather than a solicitor.’

‘Royds Withy King has shown a great interest in my case and have grasped the nettle giving great advice and legal activity. ’

‘The uniqueness of the team is; responsiveness, efficiency and a warmth in their professionalism that is unusual in my experience. I feel that Amanda Noyce is genuinely interested in my family’s case and believe wholeheartedly in ensuring that I am advised and supported at all stages.’

‘Amanda Noyce is highly experienced, a very clear, strategic thinker’

‘I would definitely recommend this firm and particularly the person I worked with to others, should the need ever arise.’

‘Mike Muston was my solicitor throughout a very long and protracted claim. He explained the various processes to me in a very easy-to-understand way and in fact far exceeded the outcome I was expecting. He was also very quick to answer any queries I had and was throughout the process was extremely responsive. In the circumstances, I could not have asked for a better service.’

‘The most highly regarded contentious private client team in Bath. ’


The contentious trusts and probate team at VWV offers a full range of services regarding wills and trusts disputes for clients with complex family dynamics. Matters include high-value estates work, and a number of court of protection matters The team, alongside its nationally ranked charities practice, has expanded its legacy protection work with charities, schools and universities. The highly regarded Michelle Rose leads the practice and regularly serves as an independent administrator. Fiona Lawrence is also recommended, due to her particular expertise in cross-border disputes, as is Leila Goodarzi, who is known to provide 'practical and sound commercial advice'.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Rose

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Lawrence; Leila Goodarzi


‘Professional reputation and expertise – very professional and good team backup.’ 

‘Michelle Rose heads up the team and is ably assisted by others including Leila Goodarzi, both of whom I found to be very knowledgeable but with very practical and sound commercial advice.’

‘What sets VWV apart is the trust and faith in their ability to deliver and not leave you feeling frustrated or like so many firms in the dark or simply unable to deliver on promises. I found them reassuringly good at keeping me in the loop on the two matters they handled.’

‘Fiona Lawrence was conscientious and went the extra mile. I believe Fiona was genuine in aiming for the best outcome, whilst recognising it might not have been quite the one we wanted. ’

‘One of the largest specialist contentious estates team in the South West. They are good and able to take on work of any scale. Highly recommended. ’

‘VWV have the skills and manpower to handle litigation of almost any scale in Private Client work and some very highly respected practitioners. They have established themselves as the firm of choice to act independently in contentious trusts work, because of their reputation for good judgement, sensitive client handling and impartiality.’

‘Michelle Rose is first choice to act as an independently-appointed trustee/administrator. She is a calm, cautious and measured litigator with an excellent nose for risk and keeps clients very well informed. She is also very good at keeping hold of costs and managing expectations. 

‘A large and well-bonded team of extremely capable lawyers – the best team in Bristol and the southwest.’

Work highlights

  • Serving as the litigation friend for the client in an Inheritance Act claim against their father for financial provisions.


National in scope, the contentious trusts and probate team at Wilsons has a strong track record of work on a wide array of high-value litigation. Its most notable strength is acting on behalf of charities in private wealth disputes, working with multiple household-name organisations. More general work includes Inheritance Act claims, proprietary estoppel, fraud claims, and trustee replacement claims, as well as Court of Protection cases. Practice head Charlotte Watts is particularly versed in the team's legacy administration and disputes matters. James Aspden is also highly regarded for his work on the team's highest-value cases. The practice is based in Salisbury.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Watts

Other key lawyers:

James Aspden; Fiona Campbell-White; Peter Jeffreys; Debbie Ashenhurst


‘Wilsons has one of the best teams in the country for this work.’

‘This team is enormously experienced in contentious trust and probate matters.’

‘James Aspden takes a cerebral approach to his matters. Charlotte Watts is very practical. ’

‘As with their non-contentious team, this team has the absolute understanding of charities and their risk levels dealing with contentious matters. The team deals with all aspects of a contentious matter with superb professionalism, fully aware of the risk that charities consider when taking a contentious matter forward. Their service has been unaffected by lockdown and the service has been exceptional as always. ’

‘The team is happy to accept all suggestions and provide options which give charities the confidence to take a contentious matter forward. They maintain strict control on ongoing costs and their staggered fee structure ensures all clients are aware of current and projected costs.’

Key clients


Macmillan Cancer Support




Work highlights

  • Acted for National Trust, British Heart Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Yorkshire Cancer Research in their capacity as beneficiaries of an estate in a matter involving potential theft.
  • Acting for the deceased son of a millionaire in an inheritance dispute.
  • Acted for the 11 charity beneficiaries of the estate of Ruby Watts in a matter involving a potential exclusion in a deed.

Clarke Willmott LLP

The sizeable regional contested trusts and probate team at Clarke Willmott LLP works with clients on a wide range of claims, including inheritance matters, trust disputes, and negligence matter. Clients include a variety of individuals and families, with a particular emphasis on agricultural disputes. Bonita Walters, who leads the Bristol team, has a particular speciality with Court of Protection and mental capacity law. Esther Woolford, who leads the Taunton office, has significant agricultural experience, and Sarah O’Grady has a strong contested wills practice.

Practice head(s):

Bonita Walters; Esther Woolford

Other key lawyers:

Sarah O’Grady; Emma Ironside; Emily Jenkins


‘Bonita Walters epitomised for me everything you should be able to expect from a lawyer, with a variety of qualities I greatly valued.’

‘Professional, expert, composed, efficient, effective’

‘Emily Jenkins is an outstanding solicitor. She is intelligent, efficient, responsive and communicates very well. Her grasp of detail and ability to remember case details from several years before is extremely impressive.’

‘A very good West Country firm with a well-deserved strong reputation.’

‘The team has great strength in depth and associates are given responsibility and control over their own files.’

‘First-class legal analysis of problems and focus on client needs’

‘Bonita Walters has exceptional skills in managing a case so as to achieve the client’s goals’

‘Esther Woolford is an experienced and very capable lawyer with strong technical skills and mature judgment.’

Work highlights

  • Represented the client in a high-value proprietary estoppel case up to the case currently before the Supreme Court.
  • Made a claim for an account of a late client’s Will Trust, alleging its income had been improperly diverted from the life tenant.
  • Represented a client in a proprietary estoppel and constructive trust claim for an interest in the family farm.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP offers a variety of contentious services to its individual, trustee and charity clients based in the South West. The team's particular expertise includes Inheritance Act of 1975 claims, will validity disputes, trust disputes and proprietary estoppel claims. Lauren Day leads the firm from its Bournemouth office, representing high-value clients in will disputes. Victoria Riddleston also brings a broad range of experience, including in Court of Protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Lauren Day

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Riddleston


‘Approachable. Friendly but professional.’

‘Victoria Riddleston was always willing to discuss any points I made and treated me with respect. I felt that we worked as a team rather than her having all the knowledge and me, just doing as she advised.’

‘The quality and expertise of the team at Ellis Jones has been second to none.’

‘Lauren Day has been extremely supportive whilst dealing with a contentious probate case. Her approach and knowledge have reassured us at difficult times and she takes time to explain everything when issues can be quite complex. If there are any problems It is comforting to know Lauren is only a phone call away. She has gone above and beyond supporting us.

‘An excellent team of south coast based lawyers, doing excellent work in this area and as good as anything going on in London.’

‘Victoria Riddleston is an excellent lawyer who handles client’s cases with sensitivity, purpose and direction. Lauren Day is an efficient and effective team leader with a very good instinct for cases and how to achieve client objectives.’

Stephens Scown LLP

With one of the largest teams in its area, Stephens Scown LLP provides  advice on a range of contentious matters, including inheritance and trust disputes, proprietary estoppel and elder abuse work to its unique client base. It works across the private client sphere, liaising with family and non-contentious services to handle a variety of client needs. Davina Haydon has a specialism in advising farming widows.

Other key lawyers:

Davina Haydon


‘A team with breadth and depth of experience that works hard for the client’

‘Top flight legal analysis combined with a cost-effective focus on the key facts’

‘Strong regional team of private client lawyers. They are very collaborative, and distribute work appropriately through the team to the right fee-earner.’

‘Leading regional firm with an increasingly national reach. Up there with the big players in private client. Some excellent personalities, particularly in the wills and probate team, who work very hard to achieve good outcomes for their clients. ’

Blanchards Bailey LLP

Blanchards Bailey LLP offers a variety of contentious expertise to its primarily Dorset-based clients, with a focus on inheritance disputes. The firm also has expanded its focus on Court of Protection matters, led by senior associate Lucy Mignot. Paul Dunlop leads the practice and has experience with agricultural clients and deathbed gifts matters, while Ben Jones was recently promoted to partner..

Practice head(s):

Paul Dunlop

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Mignot; Ben Jones


‘Always prompt responding to queries, assiduous in updating us.’

‘Lucy Mignot is clear and concise in conversation and emails, offers sympathetic responses to our concerns and adds valuable, helpful advice. 

‘The different teams we dealt with during our case were all proficient in their area of expertise and kept each other well informed in developments when necessary.’

‘Lucy Mignot was supportive during what was a very upsetting and emotional time for us all. She responded promptly to requests and always returned our calls. I found them both approachable and compassionate .’

‘The team has an in-depth knowledge in their field and take time to discuss matters and agree on direction collaboratively and where required engage further council for a wider balanced view of matters.’

‘Working with Lucy has provided good support and guidance on matters with a focus on diligence for results.’

Work highlights

  • Represented clients in a Part 64 claim for the court’s determination as to the deceased’s date of death and construction of the will.
  • Represented client in claims to set aside a declaration of trust on the grounds of undue influence under the Inheritance Act 1975.
  • Represented the client in a validity claim on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, lack of knowledge and approval, and fraudulent calumny.

Coodes Solicitors

Coodes Solicitors represents clients in a variety of contentious matters, including proprietary estoppel, validity of will, injunctive relief and inheritance disputes. Its office network means it has a significant presence in Cornwall and West Devon. Melanie Grose leads the team from Truro, focusing her efforts on the firm's high-value and complex contentious trusts and probate matters.

Practice head(s):

Melanie Grose

Other key lawyers:

Colin Hunter


‘Melanie Grose and all her team were very knowledgable and regularly kept my family and I informed of all developments.’

‘The team appeared to work extremely well together. Issues presented by the covid pandemic were overcome by the excellent leadership of Mel Grose.’

‘We mostly dealt with Mel Grose who was always very helpful and professional.’

‘Excellent team service that provided timely updates and advice in respect of q substantial claim action. Advised on likely cost and timeline in order to assess the viability of a claim against likely outcome.’

‘Friendly, efficient and diligent. Made good use of online platforms to facilitate communication with clients during the lockdowns.’

Work highlights

  • Represented clients in breach of fiduciary duty claim against a Trustee for the maladministration of a Will Trust worth in excess of £6m.
  • Represented client on a claim worth more than £650,000 for our client’s share in a joint property.
  • Represented client in a complex multi-jurisdictional matter worth in excess of £1.4m.

Frettens LLP

Michelle Hayter leads the contentious trusts and probate team at Frettens LLP which advises on disputes concerning inheritance, breach of trust, and undue influence support. Her practice focuses on high-value matters. While the team is currently primarily based in Christchurch, it plans to open an additional office in Ringwood, expanding its base in East Dorset and West Hampshire.

Practice head(s):

Michelle Hayter

Other key lawyers:

Anna Curtis; Kerri Hunter


‘The team has extensive knowledge- if one member of the team is away, someone else will pick up queries. ’

‘Michelle Hayter is both knowledgeable, approachable and communicates effectively with us about the state of our case. She listens to us and our potential suggestions and tells us the pros and cons of what we say, telling us whether our proposition is viable. She has been both patient and understanding of our extremely long-running case.’

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in a claim against his sister for financial abuse and Order for Sale proceedings.
  • Represented a client in a dispute between siblings relating to personal chattels and properties, and a claim against the executor for financial misappropriation.
  • Represented a client against a claim by two minors for reasonable financial provision from their late father’s estate.

Lester Aldridge LLP

The disputes wills, trusts and probates team at Lester Aldridge LLP divides its focus between high net-worth will and trust disputes and complex Court of Protection cases. Team head Victoria Jones focuses on the latter, with a particular niche working with vulnerable adults and elder financial abuse cases. She also advises other teams in the firm on matters concerning debt recovery from particular estates.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Jones

Porter Dodson LLP

Focusing on the disputed validity of wills, undue influence and proprietary estoppel claims, Porter Dodson LLP offers contentious services to a variety of clients in the South West. It operates across eight offices in Somerset and Dorset, directly connecting lawyers with clients. Senior associate Cara Hough leads the contentious trust and probate team from Taunton.

Practice head(s):

Cara Hough


‘The whole team were always attentive and collaborated well within themselves.’

‘Cara Hough has outstanding communication skills and in my situation which was very emotional she kept me on track with a kind heart too.’

‘Porter Dodson are excellent at communication, they always keep us informed on the current situation with our case and give sound considered advice ’

‘Strong, in-depth knowledge of the legal technicalities surrounding a contentious will case. Their key strength is their ability to communicate with their customer and to ensure that the customer is kept up-to-date and informed as the case develops and progresses towards a conclusion.’

‘Cara Hough stands out for me. She has been extremely professional, providing sound guidance, and is always willing to listen and fully explain issues to the customer. If I am ever unfortunate enough to experience the same scenario, then I would certainly turn to Cara for assistance. ’

‘Partners and associates are highly professional and discreet, as well as personable and respectful. The Taunton office has a high profile in the town and is easily accessible.’ 

‘Porter Dodson is a reliable and friendly practice. They communicate all aspects of my case to me and are in regular contact. ’

‘Cara Hough has been working on my case for a number of years and has always been compassionate and efficient.’

Steele Raymond LLP

The small but specialised contentious trusts team at Steele Raymond LLP receives instructions on behalf of a variety of individuals, trustees and executors disappointed in estate execution. Practice head John Andrews offers a broad range of contentious services, with a particular focus on representing clients on either end of an inheritance act claim. The team also successfully deploys alternative dispute resolution methods to avoid expensive litigation.

Practice head(s):

John Andrews

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP has significant experience across a full range of contentious trusts and probate matters. While the team has a strong list of charities and cross-border clients, it has seen an increase in work with farming and agricultural clients, particularly regarding proprietary estoppel claims. Emily Prout leads the Swindon-based team, handling the team's highest-value cases.

Practice head(s):

Emily Prout

Other key lawyers:

Robert James


‘The team offer approachability and clarity. They are detailed and efficient. All matters were explained in layman’s terms and the various possible outcomes were made clear. All costs were explained and billing was clear and regular.’

‘As a layperson, Thrings gave me clear advice. They handled the case efficiently and effectively and communicated developments very clearly. ’

‘Emily Prout handled the case efficiently and effectively and communicated developments to me very clearly. My claims were settled on favourable terms to me after extensive negotiation. ’

‘Emily Prout really knows her stuff and is lovely to work with. She is very able. ’

‘Thrings is one of the few firms in Swindon that offers specialist advice in this area. Their contentious team is growing which is a testament to the foundations which Emily Prout has laid.’

Work highlights

  • Advising client on a Supreme Court case, for permission to appeal on the issue of relief in proprietary estoppel cases.
  • Advised a beneficiary of a £4m pound estate about a will validity claim based on lack of capacity, undue influence and fraudulent calumny.
  • Advised a client on a professional negligence claim to recover losses incurred in defending a rectification claim.

Wards Solicitors LLP

The team at Wards Solicitors LLP offers a broad contentious trust and probate practise, with a particular emphasis on Inheritance Act and Court of Protection matters. The team works across 12 offices, 10 of which are high street practices, in order to be better connected with clients. Elizabeth Fry leads the team from the central Bristol office, specialising in high-value and multi-jurisdictional matters.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Fry

Other key lawyers:

Ian Williamson; Emma Kerry


‘Ian Williamson is very pleasant. He kept me informed at all stages of the dispute.’

‘I have used Wards for many years. I particularly like the way the firm is set up. It comprises a number of offices spread over the Bristol area. The practice is large enough to employ a number of experts in specific areas of law to which you can be easily directed. ’

‘Wards seamlessly transferred my case to their contentious team and provided all the necessary help to help achieve a good result. Despite the pandemic, all dealings were via email or phone, yet I felt engaged and well informed.’

‘Emma Kerry was always helpful, responsive and informative.  Emma tailored communications to our needs to allay our fears. This made a real difference.’

‘Emma Kerry has been available to discuss the litigation and listen to new suggestions and viewpoints. She has explored all avenues and sought practical ways to conclude the matter before trial. ’

‘Wards attract a large volume of estate and will work in Bristol and the West, through the combination of their large number of local high street branch offices and their genuinely specialist personnel in this area.’

‘Elizabeth Fry is very experienced; and very good at attracting and retaining large amounts of estate and wills/inheritance work.’

Willans LLP

The inheritance and disputes team at Willans LLP works alongside its non-contentious team to provide a rounded service to clients. The growing practice handles Inheritance Act claims, will validity disputes, trust disputes and proprietary estoppel claims. Based in Cheltenham, Paul Gordon leads the firm and has personal experience handling multimillion-pound matters, many of which have led to High Court cases. The newly hired James Melvin-Bath is also regarded for 'working collaboratively and thinking creatively' in his action as a solicitor-advocate.

Practice head(s):

Paul Gordon

Other key lawyers:

James Melvin-Bath; Jessica Whooley


‘Pragmatic and very commercially minded.’

‘Paul Gordon is particularly good at reaching a pragmatic and normally good settlement. Excellent negotiator.’

‘There is great depth of expertise in the contentious trusts and probate team and the way in which they work with their non-contentious team also ensures that they can offer great breadth of expertise, particularly in relation to tax issues which so often arise in contentious matters. In one particular case, the teams worked together to provide a draft life interest trust in a tax-efficient form ready for mediation the following day. ’

‘James Melvin-Bath is a pleasure to work with. He is particularly adept at working collaboratively and thinking creatively in order best to assist the client. Paul Gordon and Jessica Whooley are also great to work with: they are proactive and are always at the end of the phone ready to discuss any developments and the best way forward on a case.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for the proposed claimant in a claim for reasonable provision from her late husband’s estate under the Inheritance Act 1975.
  • Acting for eight clients based across the UK and abroad to defend a 1975 Act claim against an estate valued well in excess of £1m.
  • Acting for the beneficiaries of the estate of Lady Mansel in an application to remove the executor of a high-value landed estate.