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Personal tax, trusts and probate in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP has a standout capability in handling private wealth matters for clients in landed estates. A recent impressive area of growth is in advising high-net-worth individuals and families, especially those based in London or internationally. Other areas of expertise include high-value trust restructurings and tax work, as well as traditional probate matters. Team co-head John Barnett is highly regarded as a private wealth specialist, while fellow co-head Beatrice Puoti lends expertise in international tax, trusts and estate planning to the team. Among other key individuals, senior associate Tim Williams has a notable specialism in the taxation of development land.

Practice head(s):

Beatrice Puoti; John Barnett


Excellent technical knowledge combined with good client relationship skills at a reasonable cost.

John Barnett is a leader and renowned expert in his field of international private client tax planning.

Tom Hewitt and Tim Williams are excellent in the way they work with clients and other professionals to achieve the right result for the client: expertly negotiating the legislation, explaining in a non-complicated manner and managing clients’ expectations, and responding in a timely manner to queries.

The Burges Salmon team combine in-depth knowledge with practical solutions and a real personal touch.

Suzanna Harvey is clear, well-regarded in the industry and really cares about her clients.

John Barnett and Edward Hayes have consistently produced top-quality advice with in-depth analysis and clear recommendations within very tight timescales. Both have a very strong work ethic and a high level of integrity.

From our perspective, the strength of the team is their proven expertise in the most arcane aspects of the taxation of trusts combined with their strong grasp of tax risk and the practicalities of mitigation.

‘This is a unique practice in terms of UK tax planning, international tax and estate planning and cross-border planning, and their holistic approach to business owners, dealing with their personal and business needs in a comprehensive manner.

Key clients


Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a deep and highly experienced bench of lawyers who advise on the full range of tax, trust and probate matters. Practice head Christopher Page's broad expertise includes strategy, succession planning and ownership structures. Julia Cox primarily acts for UK entrepreneurs, business owners, and high-net-worth individuals and their families, while Henry Fea's client base includes trustees, foundations, banks and trust companies. Legal director Alexander Caton advises a number of landed estates. The private client team benefits from the expertise of the firm's other departments, in particular the charities and landed estates practices.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Page

Other key lawyers:

Julia Cox; Henry Fea; Alexander Caton


The Cheltenham office are very user friendly. They understand the needs of ultra-high-net-worth clients. Importantly, they know how to respond quickly when undertaking a quick transaction and have the expertise to service almost all clients’ property, family, commercial and private client needs.’

The attraction of the team is their local knowledge and expertise, especially around landed estates, with the back up of a full-service multi-disciplinary team.

I work closely with Katie Talbot, a shining star. Erudite advice and very approachable.

Excellent client service and high-quality understandable advice to clients. A top-quality firm with excellent people.

I have worked with Charles Russell Speechlys for many years and the current team are really very good. They are responsive and provide good and prompt service. The team work well and distribute work to the right person for the right job. Most recently I have had very good technical advice from Alex Caton and good, efficient service on a time-pressured situation with Nigel Edge. They all seem to communicate between themselves to provide a cohesive, client-friendly offering.

Practical and commercial approach to clients. Well known in the region for excellent private client services with a broad private client and trust team able to draw on fantastic technical expertise.

Julia Cox in particular is an outstanding private client lawyer able to work sensitively with clients whilst also demonstrating a deep technical knowledge of private client and trust law. Personable and approachable, she is quick to build long-lasting client relationships. Robert Blower is also an exceptional partner. Rachel Morris is liked by clients for her approachability and focus.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey offers a full advisory service to individuals, families, banks and trusts based in the UK and internationally. Its cross-border work is particularly noteworthy, and often involves complex estate planning, real estate matters and succession issues. Anna Parker's clients include high-net-worth individuals, trustees and financial institutions, while the highly experienced Deborah Carrivick focuses on the team's international offering, including acting for multi-jurisdictional trust companies, as well as working closely with the firm's Islamic finance team. Together they head up the department.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Carrivick; Anna Parker


The team has a unique ability (through Anna Parker) to handle property transactions in France.

I have used Anna Parker to assist me personally in completing a number of French property transactions. I have also used her to deal with related financing issues. She is an excellent lawyer. She identified the key issues of difficulty and resolved them. She is pragmatic and responsive. When giving advice she does not sit on the fence. She is also tough when she needs to be. I would feel very comfortable in recommending her.

Michelmores LLP

Based in Exeter but extending to the firm's Bristol and London offices, the tax, trusts and succession team at Michelmores LLP delivers expert advice to high-net-worth individuals and their families on all aspects of wealth structuring. It is noted for its cross-border UK/US tax advice, its close links with the firm's strong agricultural department, and its ability to advise on complex offshore tax planning and international matters. The Bristol-based Sandra Brown and Exeter and London-based Jennifer Ridgway head up the team. James Radcliffe specialises in advising clients with US connections, while Edward Porter was made up to partner in May 2019.

Practice head(s):

Sandra Brown; Jennifer Ridgway

Other key lawyers:

James Radcliffe; Edward Porter


This firm punches above its weight in the private client sphere, offering expertise at a very high level indeed from both London and Exeter.

The team has great strength in depth and is led by outstanding individuals. Unlike other firms, Michelmores has always retained a strong private client team and this commitment to the sector is reinforced by the quality of the team.

Highly relevant experience delivered in a practical and cost-effective way.

Strong practice with an excellent spread of knowledge, making them capable of tackling the most complex client affairs.

Sandra Brown brings a wealth of knowledge to client matters and combines high levels of technical knowledge with excellent client service.

Jennifer Ridgway is extremely well versed in trust and tax-related work. Clients find her easy to communicate with and she offers sensible, rounded advice backed up by exceptional technical knowledge.

Sandra Brown and James Radcliffe are both very good with private clients, with excellent knowledge and expertise.

Standout partners are Jonathan Riley and Jennifer Ridgway, who are exceptional in combining personal charm and charisma with a depth of technical knowledge and practical application, which compares with the best in the field. Alice Daniels is an excellent associate who will go far.


Alongside individuals and families, the TLT private client team acts for two of the biggest UK banks, shipping corporations, international private banks, and trust and fiduciary services businesses. Team head Patrick Wooddisse has expertise in advising high-net-worth individuals on domestic and international tax planning and trusts; he has a niche specialism in US tax law. Debbie Gale heads up the fast-growing probate practice, specialising in the technical aspects of probate and wills law. She advises a major private bank on estate administration.


Extremely responsive, cost-effective, happy to provide a list of clear prices for regular jobs, efficient, clear drafting, able to handle more complex queries as well and an excellent sounding board on tax points, both onshore and offshore.

I have always enjoyed working with Patrick Wooddisse, who is technically excellent but also commercial and never looks to gild the lily unnecessarily. He has built a team that runs very efficiently and is absolutely reliable in drafting documents at a more than reasonable price. If I needed a second opinion on a private client tax matter he is the first person I would turn to. I genuinely don’t think he’s nearly as well known as his abilities merit.

Patrick Wooddisse gets to the real issue very quickly and then finds solutions which work.

Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove

Boutique private client firm Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove specialises in advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals, families and their structures, and is noted for the extensive experience of its team. The Cheltenham-based firm offers a comprehensive range of private wealth services, including asset protection, philanthropy, international taxation and estate planning matters. The highly experienced Paul Hunston is the firm's managing partner, Tim Osborne the senior partner and Matthew Cain is a leading tax lawyer, with a particular focus on the structuring of private wealth. Matthew Shayle's expertise includes tax planning for internationally mobile families.

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Pallister; Matthew Shayle


‘Matthew Cain is highly intelligent, commercial and very client friendly. He and his team provide very high-quality service and advice.’


Noted for the size and experience of its private client team, Salisbury-based Wilsons provides the full range of services in this space, with particular expertise in advising clients in landed estates. Other significant clients include high-net-worth families. The department has seen a recent growth in Court of Protection matters and offshore work, which includes the creation and winding up of trusts. Frances Mayne specialises in mental capacity issues, Adam Herbert leads the firm's recognised international offering, and Belinda Watson is head of the landed estates and heritage team; together they jointly head up the team.


Wilsons is one of the very few top-rank specialist ‘private client tax’ firms based outside London. It has great strength in depth, and a high number of very able, diligent and far-sighted advisers. It is without doubt a top-tier firm.

Belinda Watson is technically excellent, and a very wise, level-headed and resourceful adviser with vast experience of the issues faced by wealthy English land-owning families and the ability to give much more than merely tax and trust law advice. She is crystal clear in the advice she gives, is very sound at drafting, and thinks ahead at all times.’

‘Both Belinda Watson and Tim Fullerlove are good at standing back and looking at matters in the round, once they have mastered the technical issues. Both are expert at liaising properly and sensibly with HMRC on heritage property and the related inheritance tax implications. Torsten White, James Aspden and Andrew Radice are also excellent.

Wilsons are an excellent team of lawyers who offer a range of services that benefit catastrophic injury clients. They are able to offer private client, trust, deputyship and wills advice. They have a close link amongst their teams and can try to offer advice which covers all aspects of a client’s concerns.

Frances Mayne is simply phenomenal. Her Court of Protection and deputyship advice and knowledge is first rate and yet she has a very down-to-earth, grounded manner and imparts her advice to clients in a clear and understandable way. She is currently senior partner as well and yet still has time to respond swiftly to clients when required and clearly enjoys the fee earning work.

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP advises high-net-worth individuals and their families, as well as trust corporations and charities, on the full range of private wealth-related matters. The team also frequently acts for landed estates and clients in the agricultural industry. Michael Alden heads up the trusts and estates department, lending additional experience in Court of Protection matters as a deputy and attorney, while Robert Horsey leads the disputed wills and trusts sub-team. The department also has expertise in tax and trusts administration.

Practice head(s):

Michael Alden; Robert Horsey

Other key lawyers:

Tom Biddick; Kirsten Cook; John Toth


Strong awareness of legal and tax issues in connection with trust and estate matters.

Sarah Mansbridge is very personable and approachable for clients and professionals alike, which is of foremost importance when dealing with probate matters as you deal with clients at the worst of times.

The depth and breadth of the knowledge within the team is exceptional. The team also works closely with other departments within the firm; clients generally have more than one issue, not always at the same time, and it is a huge bonus knowing that the private client team has taken the time to build up internal relationships to the point that they can make an referral to a colleague that will prove to be very positive. The firm also values contributions from other professionals, not solicitors, who are able to bring something to the table to help their clients. They work hard at building and maintaining external relationships.

Kerry Morgan-Gould is a calm, empathetic partner working in contentious probate. She sees the issue, dissects it, resolves it.’

‘Sarah Mansbridge is an outstanding associate. She’s technically excellent but doesn’t let her exceptional technical ability get in the way of a warm and personable approach with clients.’

‘Vicki Green is an approachable associate who manages to take the complications out of matters. She always sees the most straightforward and effective route to take.’ 

Jonathan Hickman is an exceptional lawyer, combining experience with the best client support, quick responses and attention to detail.

Excellent technical knowledge on a broad range of legal matters.

Tom Biddick is technically strong and has great client delivery and service.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP fields a large private wealth team, and is best known for its full-service offering to high-net-worth clients on their tax and estate matters. The firm's Bristol office attracts international clients, while the Taunton office regularly acts for clients in the agricultural sector. Both offices advise trusts with mixed portfolios of investments and property, providing tax and administration advice to trustees and beneficiaries. Bristol-based Anthony Fairweather is the managing director of the firm's private client team across all offices, and a dual-qualified barrister and solicitor; consultant Carol Cummins heads up the private capital team.


Clarke Willmott’s private client team is highly efficient, responsive and personable to deal with.

David Maddock is highly knowledgeable and always conveys his advice in an exemplary fashion.

Very knowledgeable team with the ability to pull in the skills of the wider Clarke Willmott team when appropriate. Good relationships with professionals and clients, enabling them to be trusted long-term advisers.

David Maddock is technically excellent. This combined with his ability to manage client and professional relationships very well, explaining matters in an understandable way, makes working with David and recommending him to new clients very easy.

Personal and professional service. Very much get to understand their clients and treat them as valued individuals.

All-round capability. Friendly yet professional.

Samantha Neagle handled my case very smoothly, professionally and efficiently in a very time-effective manner yet maintaining a friendly disposition in all contact I had with her.’

‘Elizabeth Smithers provided an excellent service and was friendly yet professional, setting out the various options available to achieve my objectives.

HCR Hewitsons

Harrison Clark Rickerbys is a leading firm in the Cheltenham area for private client work, and regularly attracts cross-border mandates. The private client team also offers expert advice to older and vulnerable clients; this work includes managing personal injury trusts and asset protection. Another key area of work is advising on trust administration, particularly for high-net-worth clients. Practice head Alex Taylor specialises in complex tax planning and trust and estate administration, primarily for business owners. Other notable lawyers are the experienced Mark Hartley and Phillipa Bruce-Kerr, who heads up the older and vulnerable people team.

Practice head(s):

Alex Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Mark Hartley; Phillipa Bruce-Kerr


Tom Murphy-Kirkhope is very knowledgeable and conscientious.

HCR have a highly competent team with excellent specialist knowledge. Their advice is clear and comprehensive and delivered in a sympathetic, professional and timely manner. They ensure that the right individual within the team is dealing with estate matters to ensure the best value for the client.

Mark Hartley clearly has very great knowledge of his subject but delivers his advice in a clear, concise and understandable way which gives clients the confidence that their affairs are in safe hands. Tom Murphy-Kirkhope is thorough in his work with great attention to detail, timely in his responses and an excellent communicator.’

Efficient, knowledgable and approachable.

I valued Sarah Roberts for her capable, efficient and knowledgeable handling of probate.

Everything has been handled to perfection in a timely manner and we have never considered going to any other practice.

Our main contact from the beginning has been Mark Hartley. We have greatly admired and respected his knowledge, manner and patience in taking us through some complicated discussions. We cannot imagine anyone doing a better job for us.

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP fields one of the largest private client teams in Devon and Cornwall, and is known for its particular expertise in Court of Protection matters. Its specialisms include death in active service exemption cases, a new and growing area of law. Among other notable services, the practice offers a trust advice service and an elder client service, with a particular emphasis on the care sector. Practice head Philip Reed manages the team's landed estates portfolio, which includes a number of major estates in Cornwall. Tax specialist Malcolm Emery departed for BPE Solicitors LLP in September 2019.

Practice head(s):

Philip Reed

Other key lawyers:

Graham Murdoch; Ian Newcombe


The team are very personable, well informed and prompt with their work.

Highly professional, stand-out-from-the-crowd, very efficient and experienced team.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The Bristol-based private wealth department at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP forms part of a national and international team, including the firm's US offices. The team has expertise in acting for landed estates, onshore and offshore trusts, philanthropy matters, complex estate administration and institutional matters. Practice head Mark Woodward has extensive experience of advising on all aspects of wills and trusts. Another key name in the team is legal director Christopher Kerr-Smiley, whose specialist areas include advising on trust restructuring, trust taxation, and trustees' powers and duties.

Practice head(s):

Mark Woodward

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Kerr-Smiley


The private client team at WBD is the perfect blend. Mark Woodward and Christopher Kerr-Smiley provide the complete service and complement one another. The firm is able to offer the full range of private client services, including specialism within agricultural law.

Mark Woodward very polished, with excellent client skills. Christopher Kerr-Smiley is extremely technical and able. Robert Drewett is skilled particularly within the agricultural team.

I dealt with Christopher Kerr-Smiley, who was always available and replied to all communications promptly. When he was away one day his assistant dealt with the matter very well.

Christopher Kerr-Smiley’s depth of knowledge was impressive and extremely helpful. Christopher replied promptly, gave a realistic estimate of fees and paid close attention to all aspects of the matter.

Key clients

Schroders Personal Wealth

Old Mutual Wealth

Equiom Trust Limited

Capco Trust Jersey Limited (now part of Ocorian)


Blanchards Bailey LLP

Blanchards Bailey LLP remains a dominant presence in rural Dorset, and acts for many of the largest owner-managed and family-owned businesses in the surrounding areas. The private client department, based in Blandford Forum and headed up by Jerome Dodge, stands out in particular for its strong local client base and estate planning and tax advice.

Practice head(s):

Jerome Dodge


Blanchards Bailey are an incredible team of people and my favourite law firm to deal with. Their strength is the combination of knowledge and personal touch.

They put you at ease and explain everything in great detail and check that you understand exactly what will happen next. They don’t use legal jargon, but plain English.

Blanchards Bailey are a rural practice, they are well connected with the local community and take the trouble to get to know clients in order to support their needs. They have good legal knowledge but don’t hide behind it as experts, instead seeking to simplify and clarify complex decisions.

Jerome Dodge continues to provide excellent service when dealing with our family affairs. Always ready to make himself available with the minimum delay and to provide clear and sound advice.

Linda Hardy at Blanchards Bailey has been exceptional. Very professional, easy to communicate with and deals with everything and cares about what she does to the highest standard.

I think this practice is unique because they are able to cover all aspects of an individual’s requirements with the staff that they have in a very professional and positive manner, giving the client reassurance that they are getting a good service and value for money.

Their strengths as I see them are availability for advice, attention to detail and speed of return on queries. On the whole it’s just an excellent service by people that care and have a deep knowledge of their respective fields, always given in a polite, straightforward, understandable way.

Jerome Dodge is totally dependable and discreet. He always remembers our specific background and details when approached and new tasks are quickly addressed and turned around.

Work highlights

  • Devised an inheritance tax planning scheme for a wealthy client with sizeable pensions and overseas trusts.
  • Advised on the estate planning strategy for a farming family with assets of £20m.
  • Advised on the availability of a £400,000 inheritance tax discount during the administration of an estate.

BPE Solicitors LLP

BPE Solicitors LLP has seen significant growth in its team: Malcolm Emery joined from Stephens Scown LLP in September 2019, bolstering the team's expertise in private wealth, especially in taxation, and Peter Tyrrell was promoted to fixed-share partner in 2019. The team is led by Clare Young, who specialises in advising high-net-worth individuals.

Practice head(s):

Clare Young

Other key lawyers:

Peter Tyrrell; Malcolm Emery


BPE is able to provide a wide range of legal services for private clients, and in my experience is effective at coordinating internally and working positively and without friction alongside other advisers.

I have worked with Clare Young on private client matters for many years, and she is one of my first-choice legal advisers. Clare is extremely client-friendly and practical, and provides great post-event client care.

Client focused, not firm focused. You feel important, not just like someone to be billed

Malcolm Emery has excellent all-round knowledge, but is particularly good on long-term inheritance planning and tax planning. He is a great communicator and has the ability to make complex matters seem easy; he offers solutions without being asked.

BPE is very personable, friendly yet totally professional in its approach.

Clare Young worked patiently and tirelessly on my case. I feel she has listened to and respected my needs first and foremost and then diligently built the legalities around them. She has shown integrity, kindness and professionalism in all her work. She is generous with her time, bringing humour and vitality to our meetings. Legal matters are painstakingly explained. I feel safe and secure in her hands. Malcolm Emery is also willing to look outside the box to find the best way to achieve my requests.

Peter Tyrrell makes clients comfortable in difficult circumstances and uses language that makes the complex easily understandable. We see great consistency in the quality of his work, whether it is a straightforward will or the most complicated trust.

The fact that Malcolm Emery is a CTA as well as a solicitor gives him a unique standpoint as far as advising on tax is concerned, so his technical knowledge is outstanding. But also he’s very personable and easy to talk to.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP is highly regarded for its trust practice in particular, while also maintaining a strong reputation for will writing, estate planning and estate administration in the Bournemouth area. Practice head Carla Brown specialises in advising a growing client base of high-net-worth individuals on estate and tax planning.

Practice head(s):

Carla Brown

Other key lawyers:

Andy Kirby; Chris Pemberton


Strength in depth of a qualified and experienced team dedicated to this particular work.

They are very approachable but also very professional and are problem solvers.

Work highlights

  • Acting on the administration of an estate and multi-generational estate planning for a farming family along with also being the trustees of the late husband’s related discretionary trust.
  • Advising a high-net-worth individual on  regular reviews of his will, including structuring to ensure business property relief is used to full advantage and providing inheritance tax advice.
  • Protecting a vulnerable elderly woman from financial abuse by making a Court of Protection application, including attending Southampton Crown Court to give evidence in criminal proceedings, which led to a conviction for fraud.

Royds Withy King

Royds Withy King maintains a wide-ranging private client offering. James McNeile heads up the firm's private client team, while Becky Ricards Small manages the wills and probate team. A particular strength of the team is the management of personal injury trusts and deputyships. Samantha O’Sullivan departed for Awdry Bailey & Douglas in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

James McNeile


‘Very personalised touch, great attention to detail, patience, and the ability to explain the most complex issues simply and succinctly. Trustworthy.’

‘James McNeile stands out for his experience, knowledge and speed of responses.’

‘Laura Kearns has massive patience, the ability to explain everything simply, attention to detail and quick communication.’

‘The contentious team of Calum Campbell, Mike Muston and Amanda Noyce deservedly have a strong profile across the local markets and nationally.’

‘Calum Campbell is a solid private client and property litigator, combining a depth of legal knowledge with a tenacious approach to litigation, yet at all times keeping an eye on the client.’

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP's private client team significantly expanded following the firm's acquisition of Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors in December 2019, which brought with it the arrival of David Whitworth. Specialisms include services for older and vulnerable clients and cross-border taxation work. Alison Allen heads up the team, while Daniel Harris leads the international and cross-border team, and Kathryn Layzell the domestic trusts and estates team.

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Mortimer; David Whitworth


‘They are professional, personable and a pleasure to deal with.’

‘David Whitworth is very knowledgeable and helpful and has a rare skill of being able to communicate very complex matters in a client-friendly manner.’

‘Rebecca Broom is very personable and always willing to go the extra mile for clients in need of help.’

‘A local and approachable firm who can understand sometimes unusual international estate planning needs.’

‘Approachable, professional, interested in our needs and in finding the best solution.’

‘Multi-jurisdictional probate cases are handled with consummate professionalism and the knowledge and advice is second to none.’

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP has expertise in advising high-net-worth business owners and entrepreneurs, especially in relation to their family investment companies. The private client team, headed by Michael Westbrook, also shares the wider firm's strength in assisting clients in the agriculture and landed estates sector. Key specialisms include strategic land advice and diversification into non-agricultural enterprises.

Practice head(s):

Michael Westbrook


Thrings offers enormous knowledge and experience in relation to trusts and probate. It is also strong in relation to agricultural matters.

Trethowans LLP

Trethowans LLP acts for a range of clients including high-net-worth individuals, handling the full spectrum of private client work. James Hammersley is head of the team at the Poole office.

Practice head(s):

James Hammersley

Other key lawyers:

Richard Dollimore; Adam Scott


‘They are very friendly and have a high level of knowledge across a broad spectrum. They are very approachable as a team and will assist in whatever way they can with an enquiry.’

‘Chris Pemberton is very sincere and approachable as well as knowledgeable.’

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP regularly advises family businesses and high-net-worth individuals on personal wealth planning; the creation, management and taxation of trusts; and wills and probate administration. The team also has a strength in advising clients in the real estate sector. Helen Honeyball heads up the firm's private wealth offering in the South West, from the Exeter office.

Other key lawyers:

Frank Cook; Amanda Rainford


The Bristol-based estates, tax and trusts team at VWV advises clients on complex trusts, estates and tax planning, with expertise in areas including the creation of lifetime trusts, personal injury trusts, and complex and multi-jurisdictional assets. The team is jointly headed by Michelle Rose, Mary McCrorie and Rachael Armstrong, who also operates out of the Birmingham office.

Other key lawyers:

Shelley Faulkner


Good communication, well-considered responses.

Shelley Faulkner and Fiona Lawrence have both been very patient and good at considering the wider implications of the matter.

Excellent team, and their knowledge of the administration of trusts is first class.

Shelley Faulkner really stands out, and nothing is too much trouble. She really goes the extra mile.

Technically strong and knowledgeable, capable and approachable.

‘Rachael Armstrong, Shelley Faulkner and Megan Alexander in particular each work with notable diligence and attention to detail while establishing trusted client relationships and delivery that is technically accurate and easily understandable.’


The growing private client team at Wansbroughs covers a wide range of matters, including complex tax planning for landed estates, inheritance tax planning, and the administration of trusts. Although based in Wiltshire, the team attracts clients from across the South West and London. Alan Ciechan heads up the team from the office in Devizes, and in May 2019 both Kathryn Smith Cowap and Jennifer Vooght were made up to partner.

Practice head(s):

Alan Ciechan


The quality of the staff providing service to their clients is the main standout aspect of the firm.

I have known and worked with Emily Anderson for many years, and Emily is one of the finest legal professionals I have worked with. Emily’s attention to detail and ability to explain complex situations to my clients in a way that they can understand is very highly regarded. Emily’s professionalism and guidance are highly valued by me and my clients.

The advice is timely and accurate, enabling decisions to be made quickly on the basis of the advice given.

I worked primarily with Kathryn Smith Cowap, who exhibited high levels of professionalism under time pressure. Her advice was not only accurate, but also appropriate and on-point, enabling high-value decisions to be taken swiftly.

Anna Wensley Stock is extremely bright, hardworking and responsive. She has a very nimble mind and gets right to what’s important. Kathryn Smith Cowap is extremely knowledgeable and has a delightful manner that is invaluable when balancing with the diverse opinions of lay trustees.

The main reason I have chosen to work with Wansboroughs is the general ‘un-stuffy’ approach they take to advice. Clients do not feel pressured or as if they are on the clock. They have a wide range of experts in all legal areas and cover every need for clients.

When working with Anna Wensley Stock clients feel confident they are in the very best hands. She is professional, highly intelligent and, above all, empathetic to clients’ needs. She has that rare ability to know when to listen and when to talk. She explains things clearly and at the right level for the client to understand. Trust and estate planning is a complex area and she manages to demystify the process. Work is quickly and accurately turned around. I have no intention of using any other solicitor whilst she is available.

Alan Ciechan is exceptionally good at drafting documents and understanding requirements, and always deals with matters very promptly.

Willans LLP

Cheltenham-based Willans LLP offers the full range of private client work, spanning succession planning, personal tax, property and probate issues. Practice head Simon Cook's areas of specialism include advising elderly and vulnerable persons, and the department maintains a strong client base in the agricultural and landed estates sector. Ruth Baker departed for Thursfields Solicitors in March 2019.

Practice head(s):

Simon Cook


A rare combination of a practice which offers a warm and welcoming environment which sits alongside highly professional services delivered with expert knowledge.

An excellent medium-sized firm. Big enough to have the expertise required, whilst being small enough to value clients and look after them well.

I dealt with Simon Cook over probate. He was unfailingly supportive, kind and understanding, and had a deep and sound knowledge of a complex situation. Every step of the whole process was explained clearly, communication was timely, and he was always available to discuss any questions. I had every confidence in his judgement.

Very thorough and efficient team. They are willing to take the time to understand a matter and to think it through.

Simon Cook is very thorough and thinks around problems. A very amenable colleague to work alongside. Of the associates, Hannah Wall is very bright and has the ability to see issues before they arise, and Rachel Sugden is efficient and has the experience to double check drafting points rather than producing documents that then need amending.’

Simon Cook is very professional at all times and combines this with an excellent manner when dealing with clients. He’s instantly likeable and puts clients at ease.

Simon Cook is measured in his approach and support. He is empathetic with clients and very technically knowledgable. One of his skills is the ability to put forward technical legal support in a readily understandable manner.

Laura Stone was very careful, took on board everything I had to say, and explained in layman’s terms what I needed to know.

Work highlights

  • Advising on an estate planning matter where there is a substantial business interest (a company worth about £6m) and various agricultural issues.
  • Acting for the trustees of a personal injury trust where the assets held are in excess of £4m. The trustees are responsible for ensuring that the disabled beneficiary can employ his carers and live on his smallholding in the way that he wishes.
  • Acting for the executors on their late father’s estate (valued in excess of £7m), handling valuation issues regarding the deceased’s company interests and London property, and negotiating with the deceased’s second wife who has moved to overseas.

Farnfields LLP

Primarily serving rural communities in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire, the private client team at Farnfields LLP maintains a strong reputation among local clients, which include high-net-worth individuals, farmers and landed estates. Susan Lacey heads up the practice from the office in Shaftesbury.

Practice head(s):

Susan Lacey

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Thomas


The skill, professionalism and speed at which they operate is second to none. They have a huge depth of knowledge within the firm and are very well resourced and organised. This makes them a standout choice in this area.

They really are all first class in their approach, professionalism, and knowledge. They always show great empathy and have an excellent bedside manner. Without doubt Susan Lacey is at the absolute forefront of her game. She is outstanding across all areas and is highly effective at managing her teams across a multi-office practice. Other noteable team members are Claire Muirhead, Jackie Cuff and Natasha Evans.

We regard the Farnfields private client team as the ‘go to’ trusted team to ensure a responsive, reliable and expert delivery of advice which puts the client at the heart of what they do.

The standout qualities for us in terms of the individuals we work with are their knowledge, expertise, client care, ease of access, personable and friendly approach, and responsive delivery. What makes them different is their straightforward and natural ability to put the client first without unnecessary over-complication which gets to the nub of what the client wants and needs quickly.’

Claire Muirhead was approachable, empathetic and extremely hardworking. Emails were responded to by return, often at weekends or whilst she was on holiday. She is a definite credit to Farnfields.

In my opinion the team at Farnfields demonstrate how a team should work; they seem to have specialists that cover most clients’ needs. Its main strength lies in keeping things personal.

Frettens LLP

Frettens LLP provides a wide range of private client services to clients across rural Dorset, primarily acting for pre-retirement owners and managers of local or regional businesses, as well as elderly clients. Lee Young and Heather Varley jointly head up the team.

Practice head(s):

Lee Young; Heather Varley

Work highlights

  • Advising on estate planning, the review and updating of wills, and existing and new family trust arrangements for an estate valued at around £35m.
  • Handling estate administration and general affairs for an estate valued at between £2m to £10m.
  • Advising on estate planning and trusteeship, the review and updating of a will, and the appointment as trustee of 14 family trusts for an estate valued at around £5m.

GA Solicitors

Plymouth-based GA Solicitors has strong links with clients in the local area, as well as further afield. Practice head Jonathan Hall focuses in particular on inheritance tax and trust planning, complex estate administration and estate planning, as well as issues of mental capacity.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Hall

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Bailey; Matthew Rose


‘They are professional, approachable, and extremely well qualified to deal with any complicated matters.’

‘We have always enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Catherine Bailey and latterly Matthew Rose since he has been promoted to partner. We have also met and worked with senior partner Jonathan Hall on a number of occasions and hold him in equally high esteem. We feel that they strive to provide a first-class service to their clients, which aligns with the ethos of our business. I would consider their strengths to be providing a professional service with a friendly approach and excellent communication.’

Goughs Solicitors

Goughs Solicitors operates from seven offices across north and west Wiltshire. It provides wide-ranging advice on private client matters, including probate and estate administration as well as the creation of wills and trusts. Emma Taylor in Devizes and Phillip Bolton in Corsham head up the team.

Practice head(s):

Emma Taylor; Phillip Bolton


Knowledgeable individual solicitors who when necessary are able to work together to review problems in depth and put together sensible, appropriate and achievable solutions.

Individual knowledge, a willingness to seek additional support when necessary and an ability to clearly explain the difficulty and solutions. This leaves the client with a feeling of confidence and a clear understanding of the issues involved.

Responsive, courteous and professional. Phillip Bolton has a calming presence and a gift for explaining technical issues in plain English without patronising.

In Phillip Bolton we have experienced unusually strong personal service, patience and attention to detail. Nothing is too much trouble.

Humphries Kirk

From its offices in Dorset and Somerset, Humphries Kirk provides specialist advice in areas including tax, trusts, Court of Protection cases, overseas matters, and estate planning for high-net-worth individuals.

Practice head(s):

Laura Staples


HK is an extremely professional and well-run firm that really puts the clients first. It is a firm we have built a great deal of trust with and their delivery on expectations on time stands them apart from others.

‘Personable, reliable and understanding – a first-class team.

Kitsons LLP

Kitsons LLP's team is spread across three South West offices in Torquay, Plymouth and Exeter. In Plymouth, the well-regarded Marjorie Creek is a former registered nurse and draws on her experience in challenging decisions regarding continuing healthcare funding. The team, which has a focus on complex probate and trust work, also includes Charlie Siegle in Exeter, while in Torquay, Jonathan Dickson - a taxation technician and chartered tax adviser works - works with consultant Lynn Smith.

Other key lawyers:


‘The team that Marjorie Creek has created are efficient, personable and prompt.’

‘Marjorie Creek is the standout lawyer. She is exceptional. Marjorie projects brilliantly with clients, all of whom speak very highly of her. She achieves a high level confidence and trust very quickly.’

‘Marjorie Creek is very pleasant, courteous, thoroughly knowledgeable and has been helpful in what has proved to be a very complex task.’


Laceys has built up a strong reputation among local clients in the Bournemouth area for its private client work. Kate Mansfield heads up the team, and has experience acting for multiple generations of families and vulnerable clients.

Practice head(s):

Kate Mansfield; Natasha Cross


‘They are kind, friendly and – most importantly – reliable. We have always found the staff to be welcoming when you call in or telephone. Whatever is needed, you always know that a very professional team will do all they can to help. They have never let us down.

We usually deal with Jonathan Ogden. He never disappoints. I also have to say how impressed I am with Kate Mansfield. Her patience and the lengths she will go to are unbelievable. Kate takes such care to ensure that everything possible is done for her clients.

A team that sparks ideas off each other and searches out new angles to age-old issues. They are not afraid to challenge traditional thinking and to strip ideas to their basics in an effort to provide a workable solution.

Kate Mansfield stands out for her incisive thought process and her ability to cut to the core of the issue and to provide a simple solution to a difficult problem.

Laceys can only be described as highly professional, organised, accommodating and incredibly approachable. The private client team is led by Kate Mansfield, who has a very worthy reputation in the area and is a first-class ambassador of Laceys and the legal profession. The practice is well organised and structured and offers a superb service to clients. It always appears that no enquiry is ever too much trouble and their ability to take on cases without fuss or favour is unquestioned.

The individuals are highly organised and professional at all times. There is a sense of pride of the staff when handling clients’ enquiries, and with their professional edge, attention to details and client-centric approach the team are first class. There is never a doubt that the service will be outstanding and efficient. Kate Mansfield heads up the private team and is a credit to her industry and this law firm through her controlled and professional approach to all clients.’

Excellent personal service conducted speedily with no delays on follow ups or finding answers. I feel the team know me and my custom is valued by them.

Nothing is too much trouble and they are very accommodating, knowledgeable and personable.

Work highlights

  • Advising a local business owner on the restructuring of landholdings to maximise available inheritance tax reliefs.
  • Advising on the issues surrounding the failure to register a share transfer, after a gift to a family member, and its effect on inheritance tax.

Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP is known for its specialisms in international estate matters and inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning advice. Other strengths include Court of Protection work and trust administration. Kurt Lee, Oliver Phipps and Richard Fairbairn jointly lead the private client team. Paula Shea departed for Blake Morgan LLP in March 2019.

Mogers Drewett LLP

The Bath-based private client team at Mogers Drewett LLP has expertise in areas including high-value, multi-jurisdictional estates, wills, trust formation and administration, elderly care, lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection work. The highly experienced David Hill heads up the team.

Practice head(s):

David Hill


David Hill relates well to his clients and expresses himself in a comprehensive and fully understandable way. David will take on any type of probate and estate matter and can be relied upon to have a good grasp of the necessary detail.

Friendly, approachable but efficient service.

David Hill and Gemma Monaghan are highly knowledgeable, common-sense, practical people who are a pleasure to work with.

‘Key partners have many years of service with the firm. This provides local knowledge and contacts, and gained expertise in specialist fields.

Porter Dodson LLP

Porter Dodson LLP provides private client services primarily in Somerset and Dorset. Alongside handling tax and succession planning, will drafting, and estate and trusts work, the firm also has a specialist care home funding team. Kate James heads up the team from the firm's Wellington office.

Practice head(s):

Kate James


‘The service I received was friendly, efficient and prompt. The administration of the estate proceeded much more swiftly than anticipated with frequent up-dates and first-class guidance. The costs were kept within budget.’

‘The practice offers the benefits of being both local and approachable at the same time as providing professional expertise. The team communicated well and dealt with our affairs promptly and efficiently.’

‘An absolute focus on client needs and what is right for that client. Respectful of the private client relationship, and understanding of the need for care and understanding of different circumstances. Total attention to detail, accuracy and swift responses and communication.’

‘Kate James is well respected and a hard worker, who is always happy to help and advise.’

‘I have been very highly impressed by their knowledge and their responsiveness in a complex matter.’

‘They have always been very approachable, helpful and pragmatic.’

Steele Raymond LLP

The private client team at Steele Raymond LLP has particular expertise in tax issues arising in relation to trusts and estates, while also regularly handling Court of Protection matters. Team head Sue Adams has additional experience dealing with offshore trusts and non-domiciled but UK-resident clients.

Practice head(s):

Sue Adams

Other key lawyers:

John Andrews


Good-quality advice from a local firm.

Very good private client team. Knowledgeable and responsive and very good with clients.

Deep technical trusts and tax knowledge, proactive and ready to go the extra mile to deal with clients quickly, on and off-site.

Tanners Solicitors LLP

Tanners Solicitors LLP has an excellent reputation in the Cirencester area, and covers the full range of private client work, with expertise in advising elderly and vulnerable clients. Anna Freeland, who heads up the team, specialises in the administration of complex estates.

Practice head(s):

Anna Freeland

Other key lawyers:

Richard Isaac; Jeremy Taylor


Tanners are professional, pragmatic and approachable, and they communicate effectively. They are well known and well respected in Cirencester (and of course elsewhere).

Both Anna Freeland and Jeremy Taylor are a pleasure to work with. They are approachable and responsive and never afraid to pick up the telephone.

Our experience with Tanners has been consistently professional and considerate of our needs.

‘Anna Freeland was recommended to me and I found her to be very approachable and professional. She made an extremely detailed and rigorous assessment of our issues. Her recommendations were made together with a clearly argued list of alternative suggestions, each offered with clear explanations and implications of the range of possible solutions suggested. This gave us the confidence to trust her opinions implicitly.’

Richard Isaac is a supremely able and effective lawyer, communicator and thinker. He brings this approach to all aspects of the matter with evident ability and legal area knowledge as well as apparent management skills. I wholeheartedly commend him and his team.

A willingness to listen and to understand a different standpoint is, in my estimation, one of the key essentials of a mutual, trusting relationship between client and advisers. The individual practitioners each follow the fundamentals set out above, which without a shadow of doubt makes it a pleasure to undertake projects with them, fully confident in both their technical and practical abilities.

Tanners Solicitors displayed a very satisfactory and excellent professional performance in dealing with my personal affairs.

Wards Solicitors LLP

Wards Solicitors LLP provides individuals, families and businesses in the Bristol area and environs with a wide range of private client services. Jenny Pierce heads up the wills, probate and mental capacity team. Two other areas of expertise are Court of Protection work and trust administration.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Pierce

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Parkman; Tom Scoffham


The individuals within the team are reliable, professional, approachable and genuinely care about their clients.

Tom Scoffham was friendly, experienced, knowledgeable and very comforting. Every time I have asked questions or sought advice Tom was always available to give a reply.

I have particularly valued Mary Harty’s experience, clear communication, approachability, professional approach and clear advice. I would be happy to recommend her and Wards to other potential clients needing a similar service.

I had dealings with both teams over the past few months and I can say that the biggest single thing was that they listened to me and gave advice based on my needs. This was done in a very compassionate way.

Rebecca Parkman impressed with her rapid appreciation of family complications and extremely tactful handling of a potentially difficult situation.

They demonstrate an excellent grasp of complex issues and the ability to communicate in a professional but personable manner. They are prepared to spend time explaining more involved areas of law and the implications of these. Rebecca Purchase was particularly impressive.

They are knowledgeable and experts in their own field, personable and client friendly. I deal mainly with Tom Scoffham in the Henleaze office who is all of the above.

The team retains that local family feel. It is nice to know that they are part of the community and, as such, that they can be trusted to have the local people’s best interests in mind.