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United Kingdom > South West > Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Burges Salmon LLP is indisputably ‘excellent’. Practice head John Barnett is ‘technically outstanding’ and provides tax advice to a wide range of high-net-worth individuals and many leading banks, including those not domiciled in the UK or with overseas interests. Barnett also works with entrepreneurial clients, including those non-domiciled in the UK or with overseas interests. Suzanna Harvey is another key name and she recently advised an ultra-high-net-worth individual on a wide-ranging HMRC enquiry - a cross-border matter involving UK, Guernsey, Barbados, and Switzerland. The ‘exceptional and proactive’ Beatrice Puoti is advising on a £500m offshore trust; and Jim Aveline is acting for a family business holding land and investments worth £175m, as well as advising on family trusts owning a major shopping centre worth £100m. Senior associate Catherine de Maid advises trust companies on likely risk areas, assists on matters with a South African connection, and advises on philanthropic issues.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP provides ‘a real depth of knowledge and practical experience in some of the more difficult issues in this area’. The teams handles complex and high-value international tax and trust structuring (especially in the Middle East, US, Russia and Far East), as well as tax and succession advice to major landed estates, owners of heritage property and UK entrepreneurs. The ‘excellent’ Christopher Page leads the practice and is praised as 'hugely experienced, and knowledgeable about landed estates, trusts and handling awkward family relationships’. Henry Fea advises on UK residential property holding structures and long-term UK-resident non-domiciliaries in particular. Julia Cox provides clients with ‘a Rolls Royce service’; she works principally with entrepreneurs, but also has strong experience in offshore-related matters, particularly involving UK resident individuals. Associate Tabitha Collett has recently assisted on two very high-value cases for the firm. Three new trusts and probate assistants were hired in 2018, including one from BPE Solicitors LLP.

The ‘absolutely brilliant’ team at Foot Anstey has recently grown, with Tom Thorneycroft joining the team as a chartered tax adviser from Grant Thornton UK LLP in October 2017 and Hannah Wall joining from Irwin Mitchell in February 2018. Notable clients for the firm include QIB (UK) and its parent Qatar Islamic Bank, The Cobbold Family, and the Newnham Estate. Deborah Carrivick leads the practice with ‘incisive and pragmatic advice’, advising on UK tax implications for domiciliaries owning assets in the UK (including UK real estate) and on the UK tax treatment of offshore trust and company structures, bringing extensive cross-border experience. Carrivick also advises on Islamic finance, including shari'ah-compliant financial products and shari-ah-compliant trusts. Simon Gregory typically advises farmers and landowners whose land has development potential. Legal director Kirstin Cook has a ‘sensitive, caring and professional manner’, and focuses on succession planning through lifetime giving, trust creation and wills, and dealing with the administration of complex estates. Consultant Michael Evans is ‘super experienced, very practical and knowledgeable, yet completely approachable’, providing particular expertise on the Middle East. Senior associate Anna Parker is ‘a pleasure to work with and is committed to client service’, and also advises on cross-border estates and succession issues, and on international private law issues as well as the Brussels IV Regulation; she speaks fluent Spanish and French.

Michelmores LLP is a ‘first-class firm with a terrific reputation in this area’. Head of department Jonathan Riley ‘combines excellent technical knowledge and skills with great client-handling abilities and lots of charm’, he typically advises high-net-worth individuals and their families on trusts, estate and succession planning, and the mitigation of inheritance tax and capital gains tax. Jennifer Ridgway is ‘quite simply the best in her class for intellect, humility, communication, and client handling'; she specialises in UK trustees and offshore corporate trustees and UK tax advice. James Radcliffe comes highly recommended, and focuses on advising clients with connections to the US. Associate Charlotte Thomas-Collins has a particular interest in landed estates and vulnerable clients, and ‘is charming in manner - courteous, warm, and a good listener’.

TLT provides ‘a very strong knowledge base: practical and commercial’, particularly for clients in the banking sector. Recently, the firm has taken over the entire probate business of a leading private bank, and has also become the principal trust adviser to the fiduciary branch of two of the UK's largest banks. The firm also possesses strong links to international private banks, receiving regular referrals from trust companies based in the Channel Islands, Geneva and the Bahamas. Clients also include a number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals from the banking industry. Practice head Patrick Wooddisse is ‘technically highly competent, responsive and personable’, advising UK and international trust companies on their precedents and standard documentation. Wooddisse also has niche expertise advising on UK/US cross-border issues, and advising clients from India and Pakistan. ‘Down to earth and a good communicator’, Chris Williamson has considerable experience working on the creation, implementation and restructuring of wealth-holding structures for international families.

Wilsons is ‘a top provincial firm’, providing ‘thorough, knowledgeable, practical and approachable’ advice and client service. Head of the private client group Frances Mayne specialises in mental capacity issues and Court of Protection matters. Tim Fullerlove is praised for his strong ‘demonstration of empathy', and advises on offshore matters and tax issues arising from trust and estate disputes. ‘Very careful and experienced’ associate Nicola Bushby often works under Mayne in Court of Protection issues, bringing expertise in capacity law. Bushby also manages substantial financial settlement awards, and advises attorneys on applications to the court for approval on high-value statutory gifts.

Ashfords LLP is ‘a well-respected firm that has kept in touch with the personal touch that is so necessary for private client work’. Head of trusts and estates Michael Alden has a focus on heritage property and works of art; he recently advised a £40m estate on the inheritance tax aspects of long-term succession planning, and assisted the estate of a UK-domiciled individual with US-based excluded trusts where the domicile had changed since the creation of the US trusts. Tom Biddick is ‘entirely professional but client friendly’, heading up the Tiverton-based team. Specialising in estate planning for farmers and landed individuals dealing with agricultural property relief and business property relief queries, Biddick also represents the firm on the Camelot panel, regularly acting for lottery winners. The firm also has an established practice supporting clients with long-term care needs; formerly led by associate Andrew Carrigan, the firm advises clients and their representatives on options to plan for and fund long term care, supporting them through assessments, best interests meetings and applications for continuing care funding. Sarah Mansbridge joined the team as associate from Stephens Scown LLP in 2018, as did Georgina Carter from Everys as assistant solicitor.

The team at Clarke Willmott LLP provides ‘excellent service in the trust and probate area’. The Bristol practice comprises two sections: a large Court of Protection team handling over 130 deputyship clients and managing their financial affairs, and a section focusing on estate planning advice to high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs. Jane Halton comes very highly recommended: she is ‘extremely professional and delivers her advice with clarity and accuracy at all times,’ her ‘depth of knowledge and experience is clearly of the highest standard’. Emma Pope and David Maddock have recently worked on very high-value matters, and are recommended. Carol Cummins leads the team.

Alex Taylor leads the team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, handling tax planning, as well as trust and complex estate administration. Mark Hartley advises on complex tax planning and other tax issues, including assets held in multiple jurisdictions, and also advises on agricultural and business property relief. Specialist services include an elderly and vulnerable clients practice, headed by Phillipa Bruce-Kerr, who also oversees Court of Protection matters.

Malcolm Emery leads the Stephens Scown LLP private client team in Exeter, advising mainly ultra-high-net-worth individuals but also operating a niche practice in ‘death in active service’ exemption cases. The team also advises shareholders on the Enterprise Investment Scheme; assists with structuring compromise agreements; advises on tax-efficient holding structures, including the use of partnerships, family investment companies and excluded property trusts; advises on trust changes set aside under the Hastings-Bass principle and/or the doctrine of mistake; and assists with the tax implications of de-enveloping UK residential property owned by companies to avoid ATED charges. Phil Reed leads the Cornwall private client team.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP provides ‘good expertise in this area', with lawyers who have 'extensive experience and excellent technical ability’. Mark Woodward is experienced in wills, trusts, trustees' powers and duties, tax and general private client work, delivering ‘reflective and thoughtful advice and excellent client skills’ to families, entrepreneurs and landowners. Legal director Christopher Kerr-Smiley focuses on trust restructuring, trust taxation and trustees' powers and duties, on behalf of trustees, landowners, executors, entrepreneurs and non-UK domiciled clients.

The team at Blanchards Bailey LLP is ‘extremely professional' and also has 'friendly and personal communication skills’. Head of department Jerome Dodge is ‘extremely friendly and approachable whilst giving sound advice’, and recently led on a £15m complex tax planning matter. Ian Campbell joined as a senior associate from Coles Miller Solicitors LLP in March 2017; his recent work includes establishing a lifetime discretionary trust, and advising a Dorset farming family on agricultural and business property relief worth £2.5m.

Lester Aldridge LLP deals with a portfolio of trusts for vulnerable individuals (including those with brain injuries, learning disabilities and dementia) and their families via its relationships with a number of large charities. The international private client team focuses on the administration of UK and foreign assets, particularly North American securities, as well as advising clients located in South Africa. The team also advises on cross-border succession issues and international wills, and has members fluent in French, German, Afrikaans and Welsh. Kurt Lee heads up the practice.

Royds Withy King delivers an ‘excellent overall service’. In a number of recent changes to the team, senior associate Fiona Feggetter departed, Lucinda Hirst joined the Swindon office from Davey Law, and +Edward Vidnes was promoted to partner. Team head James McNeile focuses on estate planning, trusts and tax planning for high-net-worth families and non-UK individuals. Becky Ricards Small heads up private wealth and succession planning matters, specialising in inheritance tax planning, lasting powers of attorney and wills. Ricards Small is also a key partner in the Court of Protection team. Amanda Noyce, head of inheritance and trust disputes, is an ‘excellent lawyer with an incredible breadth of knowledge’; she acts on contentious probate and trust matters, tax disputes, negligence actions regarding tax advisers, inheritance disputes and applications to the Court of Protection in mental capacity matters. Associate Calum Campbell is a ‘first-rate lawyer who finds innovative solutions to complex problems’.

Steele Raymond LLP is ‘pre-eminent in the South West for technical expertise, problem solving and client service’ according to one client. Bournemouth-based team head Sue Adams comes highly recommended: she is ‘quick to analyse a situation from all angles' and has an ‘intuitive perception of what is needed’. Her practice includes advising on stamp duty land tax for commercial and residential property. Paul Causton specialises in the tax aspects of company reorganizations. Richard Smith left the firm in September 2017.

Stone King LLP is ‘very good’ in its particular niches of cross-border estates and older and vulnerable client services. Practice head Alison Allen has a focus advising families and carers of vulnerable individuals with impaired mental capacity and/or mental health issues on estate planning, trusts and care funding. Daniel Harris heads the international and cross-border team, which specialises in multi-jurisdictional succession matters. Senior associate Kathryn Layzell also has experience in estate planning and tax, including in relation to older clients and care funding.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has close links with local and national charities, acting for Mencap and Downs Syndrome Association among others. The team has expertise in establishing wills and trusts to provide support for vulnerable beneficiaries. Head of the Exeter office Helen Honeyball has particular expertise in securing agricultural property relief for farming families. Frank Cook focuses on administering estates with cross-border implications.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is recommended by clients ‘in particular regarding wills, personal tax and trusts’ . The ‘competent and professional firm’ is headed by Michelle Rose. Mary McCrorie is ‘on point with current issues and able to find practical solutions’; she advises on probate administration and all aspects of tax and accounting, specialising in cross-border and foreign assets. Rachel Armstrong focuses on succession planning for farming clients, such as advising on moral obligations and on inheritance tax and capital gains considerations.

Willans LLP delivers ‘consistently accurate advice to clients in a friendly and professional manner’. ‘Straightforward and practical’ team head Simon Cook advises on trusts and estate planning, wills, elderly client issues (including powers of attorney) and Court of Protection matters. He is ‘very knowledgeable, has empathy, gets on well with others, and builds excellent long-term relationships with clients’. Ruth Baker ‘is an excellent lawyer’, who specialises in estate planning and acts for a number of high-net-worth individuals with complex estates. She has a ‘particularly strong technical approach, great attention to detail, and is always able to explain complex matters in plain English’.

BPE Solicitors LLP has 'good expertise’ and a ‘very busy private client department with some dedicated and hardworking lawyers serving clients from across the Cotswolds and beyond’. Team head Clare Young focuses on advising high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals on personal planning and protection issues. Peter Tyrrell provides ‘excellent client service and pragmatic advice on a timely basis’, and has a particular interest in Court of Protection matters, including complex deputyship applications or contested power of attorney applications. Lottie Goldstone joined the firm as a solicitor from Harrison Clark Rickerbys in September 2017.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP has a ‘firm grasp of Court of Protection practice and procedure’. Head of the practice Lauren Day splits her time between high-value business disputes and specialist probate litigation, and has particular experience in handling construction disputes and professional negligence claims, as well as contractual disputes on behalf of property developer clients.  Associate Victoria Riddleston is ‘meticulous’ and earns praise from barristers for her ‘superb and very comprehensive’ papers. Private client executive Cariad Medway-Smith is also ‘extremely courteous’.

Farnfields LLP is ‘helpful, friendly and efficient' and provides ‘a high level of knowledge in this area', and is also 'prompt to ensure it is up to date with any legislative changes’. Shaftesbury-based team head Susan Lacey focuses on wills, lasting powers of attorney, inheritance tax mitigation, complex estate administration and the creation and administration of trusts. Fiona Thomas handles private client work, particularly inheritance tax mitigation (for individuals, farmers and business proprietors), complex trust and estate administration, wills, and lasting powers of attorney. Graham Fuller and Carina Kervin recently joined from Awdry Bailey & Douglas as senior associate and associate respectively.

Frettens LLP has an ‘extremely knowledgeable and professional team’, according to one client, and is ‘truly excellent at all aspects of will, trust and probate planning’. Led by Lee Young, the team handles will writing – particularly white label wills for independent financial advisers - powers of attorney, estate and trust administration, trust creation, tax compliance, tax planning, Court of Protection cases, the affairs of the elderly, and local authority care funding advice. Young is ‘technically excellent in tax planning and trust law, but manages to convey often complex options to clients in a concise and appropriate manner’. The firm’s client base mostly consists of pre-retirement owners or managers of local or regional businesses, as well as the elderly.

GA Solicitors provides an ‘excellent overall level of service’. Team head Jonathan Hall focuses on inheritance tax and trust planning, complex estate administration and estate planning, as well as issues of mental capacity. The ‘first-class’ Catherine Bailey focuses on estate administration, capacity issues, wills, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters; recent work includes advising on the administration of a non-taxable estate and a complex probate matter involving affidavits of alias.

Humphries Kirk provides a ‘good overall level of service’ and delivers ‘very good impartial advice in clear and understandable terms’. The firm focuses on overseas matters as well as elderly client welfare, including Court of Protection and NHS continuing funding applications. In the Bournemouth office, Adam Scott is recommended as ‘personable, dependable and thoroughly professional’. In the Dorchester office, Victoria Pearson in litigation and her team are ‘very helpful’. Solicitor Catherine Roberts is also recommended. Simon Cross heads up the department.

Head of practice at Kitsons LLP, Lynn Smith, focuses on complex estates, tax planning schemes and trust creation and operation. Charlie Siegle has a particular interest in probate cases with a foreign element. Jonathan Dickson was promoted to partner in April 2017. Plymouth-based assistant solicitor Marjorie Creek also has a growing practice, specialising in elder client financial abuse and NHS continuing healthcare applications and appeals.

Laceys provides an ‘extremely efficient and knowledgeable’ service. Kate Mansfield is ‘very knowledgeable, and able to make legal matters clear and understandable for clients’; she heads up the non-contentious practice, with Rob Kelly leading things on the contentious side.  Simon Nightingale has a ‘keen mind, expert legal knowledge and thoughtfulness’, and focuses on agricultural property matters. Solicitor Gill Walker on the conveyancing side is ‘very good’.

Jessica Beddows, who was made partner and head of the private client team at Lodders Solicitors LLP in July 2017, focuses on working with older and vulnerable clients, including in financial management, health and welfare, and Court of Protection matters. Stephen Brignull advises on the highly technical aspects of inheritance tax and estate planning, dealing mainly in estate planning and work involving domicile issues. Victoria Borrow joined the firm as assistant solicitor from Willans LLP in October 2017.

The team at Meade King LLP is ‘extremely competent, with a longstanding reputation in the local market for providing clear advice in an approachable manner’. The lawyers focus on advising SME business owners and managers as well as elderly clients, and receives referrals via the Solicitors for the Elderly website. The ‘extremely knowledgeable but also very personable’ Samantha Piper was promoted to partner in May 2018; she advises on declarations of trust, capital gains tax and elderly client law; handles will drafting for high-net-worth clients and entrepreneurs; and assists with probate cases with complex tax elements and foreign assets. She provides ‘a high degree of technical competence with a great deal of compassion, sincerity and professionalism’. Elizabeth Metcalfe – who delivers ‘prompt service in a friendly manner’ - joined as a solicitor from Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors, and Olivia Stibbs joined as a solicitor from Battrick Clark in Bristol. Vanessa Eyre is another notable member of the team.

Mogers Drewett LLP provides advice in trusts and tax planning, complex and high-value estate administration, and capacity and care matters, including later life support and deprivation of liberty issues. The firm also advises agricultural clients and businesses with livestock interests, operating a pop-up office at Standerwick livestock market in Frome. The ‘very knowledgeable and practical’ David Hill was promoted to partner and head of the team, following the departure of Sarah Dodd to head the legacies and trusts team at Dorothy House Hospice Care. Thomas Chiffers was also promoted to partner, and Orlando Beckett joined as a legal assistant.

Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors provides a ‘sound overall service’. Team head David Whitworth ‘goes above and beyond on a consistent basis’, and focuses on advising high-net-worth clients on complex tax and trust matters as well as on preparing wills. He has a particular strength in matters with cross-border components, and recent matters have involved estates with assets in France, Poland, Belgium and the US. The firm also has expertise in dealing with elderly clients and mental capacity issues.

The team at Porter Dodson LLP has a ‘well-established and respected reputation in the local area’ and provides a ‘superlative’ service. Court of Protection applications, powers of attorney and care home funding matters are areas of focus. Team head Ian Sankey advises on wills, estate administration, inheritance tax planning (including the use of discretionary and life interest trusts), powers of attorney and asset preservation. Christopher Pemberton is ‘responsive, diligent and communicates in a clear and concise way’, and focuses on advising high-net-worth individuals on all aspects of succession planning and the administration of their estates. Sharon Collier is ‘very technically knowledgeable and capable of explaining matters so that clients understand them’, and advises on long-term tax and succession planning; the administration of large, complex estates involving claims for business relief and agricultural relief; and complex interaction rules, and deeds of variation.

Trethowans LLP has a specialism in advising farmers, landed estates and entrepreneurs on succession and capital tax planning. Gary Pick is head of the practice, while senior associate James Hammersley heads the Poole-based team. Pick specialises in estate administration, with a particular focus on succession planning and wealth management; andHammersley undertakes all areas of private client work, with particular expertise in complex probate and Court of Protection work. Senior associate Sarah Richards also handles complex estate administration, and increasingly international probate matters; she also has a niche focus assisting charity legacy officers in the administration of estates where charities are beneficiaries.

Alan Ciechan heads up the team at Wansbroughs, and is ‘excellent on trusts and wills, including partnerships’. Anna Wensley is ‘extremely bright, hard-working and responsive' and Andrew Jenkins is ‘an exceptionally able and experienced operator who deals with very delicate and intricate farming matters and estates with calmness and authority’. Consultant David Bousfield is ‘one of the county’s most respected personal advisers, particularly to farming families’. ‘Bright and efficient’ associate Kathryn Smith-Cowap is ‘one to watch’; associate Jennifer Vooght is also recommended.

Wards Solicitors provides ‘service levels of a very high standard’. Specialising in advising elderly and vulnerable clients, Jenny Pierce heads the practice. Clients are impressed by ‘the tenacity, thoroughness and attention to detail’ of Rebecca Parkman, who specialises in lasting powers of attorney, complex wills and more general estate planning. Ruth Coles is ‘always very approachable and efficient’, and also advises on all private client matters, including wealth preservation and issues affecting elderly clients. Associate Alison Lamont is held in high regard for her ‘very personable, professional and knowledgeable’ manner; she specialises in Court of Protection, deputyship and mental capacity matters. Associates Beth Niblett and Rebecca Purchase are also names to note.

There have been several changes at Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove: Michael Fullerlove retired as a partner and is now a consultant, while Dan Shutt and Charles Frost both joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP as associates. Matthew Cain has particular expertise in devising and implementing tax-efficient investment structures for high-net-worth individuals, utilising trusts, life assurance policies, collective investment vehicles and hybrid entities. Paul Hunston advises on complex tax and trust structures on behalf of various high-net-worth clients, including entrepreneurs, families with inherited wealth, entertainers and film producers. Hunston also advises on issues arising out of high-value divorce settlements.

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Legal Developments in South West for Personal tax, trusts and probate

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