Contentious trusts and probate in Yorkshire And The Humber

Clarion

Led by 'fantastic lawyer' Lynsey Harrison, the private client team at Clarion  advises on complex multi-jurisdictional disputes. The team regularly handles Inheritance Act claims on behalf of executors, trustees and beneficiaries, and is well-versed in contentious Court of Protection matters, with notable experience of deputyship applications, statutory wills and financial abuse of the elderly. All team members are affiliated to ACTAPS with notable associates being Louise Dodds, Liam Brooke, Nicholas Choiniere and Danielle Pawson.

Practice head(s):

Lynsey Harrison

Other key lawyers:

Louise Dodds; Liam Brooke; Nicholas Choiniere; Danielle Pawson

Testimonials

‘I have been consistently impressed by both the understanding and conduct of everyone that I have had dealings with at Clarion. My case has been a long and very distressing one and I doubt that I could have secured any justice for my father had it not been for the high level of professionalism, approachability and support that Clarion have provided.’

‘A team that stand out from all the others. Absolutely wonderful team to work with, commercial focus and real genuine support for clients ’

‘Lynsey Harrison is a wonderful lawyer, she knows her stuff and can support clients emotionally as well as giving solid commercial advice. A brilliant lawyer!’

‘Lynsey Harrison is a fantastic lawyer but also a pleasure to deal with. She delas with matters pragmatically and sensibly.’

‘Nicholas Choiniere is an excellent communicator and often goes the extra mile for clients Louise Dodds is very knowledgeable and puts clients at ease very easily. Lynsey Harrison is a formidable opponent and gets excellent results for clients ’

‘Danielle Pawson is an able and organised litigator. ’

‘They will fully assess any situation and offer a comprehensive service – they are very approachable and help explain the technical/legal aspects in such a way that we can support a customer appropriately to get the best outcome for them. Louise Dodds is my main point of contact and I depend on her completely, though Lynsey Harrison has also supported us through a number of difficult issues’

‘Lynsey Harrison is an expert in her field and has an outstanding reputation. What is equally as impressive, however, is how available, approachable and generally helpful Lynsey is. Lynsey leads her team from the front and sets an excellent example, in various ways, but not least in terms of technical ability and a compassionate approach.’

‘Nicholas Choiniere works very closely with Lynsey and has impressed me with his technical ability and knowledge, case management and measured approach. He is no doubt ‘one to watch’ for the future and, much like Lynsey, is a pleasure to work with. I would not hesitate to recommend both individuals to clients.

Irwin Mitchell

The will, trust and estate disputes team at Irwin Mitchell is led by ‘hugely respected solicitor’ Paula Myers. Specialising in HNW matters, she oversees a team that handles matters for entrepreneurs, banks, executors, trustees and beneficiaries. In particular, it covers the complexities of contested wills (and lifetime gifts), the rectification of deeds and Court of Protection matters concerning allegations of financial abuse. The firm is also well-versed in family provision claims for spouses, cohabitees and dependants and has a strong track record in professional negligence claims arising from defective trust instruments. James Laycock, Richard Smaller and associate Carla Rist are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Paula Myers

Other key lawyers:

James Laycock; Richard Smaller; Carla Rist

Testimonials

‘The team has the rare combination of huge size (and so capacity) and deep understanding and expertise. They are national leaders, able to handle even the largest litigation but not losing the personal touch and client-handling skills sometimes more associated with smaller firms.’

‘The team (Paula Myers and Richard Smaller) were focused on providing practical and pragmatic advice for their client and were able to guide him to a very good settlement of the claim. I have worked with Paula on a number of cases. She has a very good grasp of the law in relation to contentious trusts and estates, fights her corner hard, but is always focused on obtaining a good result for her clients.’

‘James Laycock is an excellent lawyer with the ability to understand complex matters quickly, identify key issues and devise strategy to progress the issues to a resolution. He has adopted a proactive approach with the solution always in focus. James is also an excellent communicator.’

‘Carla Rist is an excellent solicitor- good with clients and very knowledgeable. Paula Myers effortlessly combines legal knowledge and managerial skills to oversee the team.’

‘Paula Myers is fast achieving legendary status as a hugely respected solicitor and feared opponent. She has the clout to take on the biggest and toughest, and win her client a great result, generating extraordinarily high levels of client loyalty and satisfaction. She leads what is probably the largest team in the country doing this work, with a vast range of experience and huge ability. Carla Rist is an outstanding solicitor repeatedly obtaining exceptional results for her clients.’

‘Richard Smaller stands out for his tenacity, attention to detail, and out-of-the box thinking. He consistently delivers excellent results for his clients and this shows in the high value and complex cases he is entrusted with.

‘Richard Smaller and Carla Rist both balance great client care (always being willing to go the extra mile to deal with the client).’

Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP

The contentious trusts offering at Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP is led by Hull-based partner Peter Duffus. Handling disputed wills (particularly those featuring medical issues), 1975 Act cases and Court of Protection work, the team also has a strong track record in 'novel' legal questions: an indicative highlight being a contentious application for tissue analysis of a deceased person. Richard Hoare and associate Amy Floater are other important contacts. 

Practice head(s):

Peter Duffus

Other key lawyers:

Richard Hoare; Amy Floater

Testimonials

‘The team has long years of experience across a vast range of trusts and estate litigation, from basic Inheritance Act claims, to challenging wills, to breach of trustees duties, to claiming beneficial interest based on DNA testing.’

‘Peter Duffus has wisdom of many years of litigating all aspects of trusts and estates. You are unlikely to find a solicitor with more wide-ranging experience.’

‘Peter Duffus’ considerable experience in litigation matters, and in particular in negotiation, were invaluable in restraining an extremely delicately poised discretionary trust matter from escalating into expensive litigation. Although the matter did last for some three years, the approach of continuing to try and find a solution covering everyone’s interests was fully vindicated.’

Bell & Buxton

At Bell & Buxton, the will, trust and inheritance disputes team is led by associate solicitor John Breeze in Sheffield. Handling high value claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, the team also covers revocation of fraudulently obtained Grants of Representation and defends wills subject to challenge based on undue influence. In addition, the firm covers contentious attorneyship matters such as claims against a deceased’s estate for pre-death breaches of trust and those relating to professional negligence. Solicitor Caroline Deathe joined from LCF Law in November 2020; Rachel Valentine is another key name.

Practice head(s):

John Breeze

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Deathe; Rachel Valentine

Testimonials

‘An excellent boutique team which punches well above its weight in the Yorkshire market and offers a better value alternative to the bigger, longer-established private client firms. Very friendly and down-to-earth.’

‘The team at Bell & Buxton are a friendly and approachable group who will always look out for their clients’ best interests.  They are willing to negotiate and reach solutions for their clients as amicably as possible.’

‘The practice has lawyers who provide genuine expertise and those lawyers also provide clear legal advice and assistance.’

‘I have always been impressed by the clear advice provided by Bell & Buxton’s lawyers over the years; the advice has always been delivered without fuss and pomposity. I have predominantly dealt with John Breeze who is an excellent lawyer.’

‘John Breeze has always provided the highest standards of client care and he delivers his advice in a friendly manner – in short, he is a lawyer whom I would always recommend in his field of expertise.’

‘John Breeze – frighteningly clever and knowledgeable (beyond his years) about trusts and probate law; thorough and comprehensive in his approach, and a real fighter.’

‘Caroline Deathe – a recent and welcome addition to the team; lots of experience, clever and always a pleasure to deal with.’

‘Caroline Deathe, who joined recently, is very user-friendly and great with clients.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a client with a terminal diagnosis about the risks of potential claims against his estate following his death, and now acts for his executors in dealing with those claims arising in multi-million pound estate.
  • Represented clients in settling a high value claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and thereafter investigating claims against the professional executor and their solicitors in professional negligence.
  • Represented client in the revocation of a fraudulently obtained Grant of Representation and in securing the appointment of an independent administrator in her late mother’s estate.

Freeths LLP

Contentious trusts expert Mark Keeley leads the private litigation team at Freeths LLP, splitting his time between Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham. Described as an 'institution', he oversees a team that handles high value litigation under the Inheritance Act and covers both will challenges and removals. In addition, the firm has demonstrable experience in rectification and/or construction applications, Court of Protection work, estoppel claims and estates law matters such as devastavit. Notably, the practice has recently expanded into areas such as agriculture where it advises wealthy farming clients and is increasingly active internationally. 'Invaluable' managing associate Laura Short is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Mark Keeley

Other key lawyers:

Laura Short

Testimonials

‘Great team. Laura Short does a fantastic job.’

‘Freeths is an established presence in the contentious trusts and probate market. They enjoy a solid reputation and are highly regarded among their peers.’

‘Laura Short is an invaluable contact of mine and I regularly refer clients to her when I cannot act due to conflict. A case is always improved by having her onboard.’

Laura Short is a complete professional and her breadth of knowledge and experience is reflective of the high quality of work her reputation attracts. Laura is able to calmly and confidently navigate the most complex claims and settle the most anxious of clients. Laura is one to watch as her technical prowess combined with her pragmatic approach is a winning combination for clients‘.

Mark Keeley is an institution in the contentious trust and probate world, and commands the respect of all who know him.’

‘A really approachable and knowledgeable firm.’

‘Laura Short combines excellent legal knowledge with excellent negotiating skills and gets really good results for clients.’

IDR Law

Described as 'outstanding', the contentious trusts and probate team at IDR Law is led by 'expert in his field' Martin Holdsworth. The firm, a pure specialist in this area of work, is particularly well known for handling matters relating to negligence, equitable remedy, and beneficiary/executor disputes. Notably, the firm recently developed a '1975 Act' software utility that enables prospective clients to see if they can bring a claim for financial provision. Louise Sackey, Richard Thomas, Kate Saunders and Eleanor Stenson are other important contacts.

Practice head(s):

Martin Holdsworth

Other key lawyers:

Louise Sackey; Richard Thomas; Kate Saunders; Eleanor Stenson

Testimonials

‘Richard Thomas was always available to answer any questions and ensure that we were kept fully up to date with progress. He was able to keep everything progressing and always worked towards a solution to the client’s situation, while still ensuring their best interests were met.’

‘This is a great team of people specialising in a niche area of work. As they have been remote workers since Martin Holdsworth set the firm up, lockdown was not an issue for them as it was business as usual. We often use this firm to support our own clients as they specialise in more detail in contentious work than we do. ’

‘Martin Holdsworth is excellent and very good at getting to the facts/seeing the issues and tackling them. He does this in a conciliatory way but if he needs to “get tough” he does so, though always in a pleasant way, which is so important in this kind of work. Richard Thomas is extremely helpful and knowledgeable.’

‘IDR have a specialist skill – Contentious Probate – and they are very knowledgeable in this area. Their knowledge of both legal matters and the sector has been extremely valuable to us. Their innovative and commercial approach in working with us to support our mutual customers and add new services to the sector has been invaluable.’

‘Martin Holdsworth is clearly an expert in his field, and his knowledge and experience in Contentious Probate is clearly second to none. Martin has built a team of capable and customer focused individuals around him, who provide support to their client based on the clients needs. In particular the support and flexibility provided by Eleanor Stenson is valued enormously. ’

Their technical knowledge and ability in this field is outstanding. I have referred a number of matters to this firm over the years. They are very approachable, efficient, organised and professional at all times‘.

Martin Holdsworth is an expert in his field and has a stellar reputation in the region and beyond. Martin is approachable, energetic, innovative, knowledgeable, practical and savvy. Martin leads by setting an excellent example for his team‘.

Richard Thomas works closely with Martin and has impressed me with this knowledge, client care and ability to see the ‘bigger picture’ in a matter. He is certainly ‘one to watch’ and is a confident performer who shares Martin’s service-led ethos‘.

Work highlights

  • Successfully advised on complex multi-jurisdictional probate claim.
  • Achieved a successful judgment secured on a claim for mistake.
  • Secured a successful promissory estoppel claim concerning a farm estate.

LCF Law

At Bradford's LCF Law, the contentious trusts and probate team is led by 'highly informed' ACTAPS member Ragan Montgomery. Handling disputes that arise between trustees and administrators, the offering also covers validity claims, capacity issues, Inheritance Act matters and the removal of executors. In addition, the firm is known for its work in wills construction, negligence and its strong track record at the Court of Protection. Notably, the practice is also adept at navigating 'novel' legal questions relating to 'disappointed' beneficiaries and 'failed gifts'.

Practice head(s):

Ragan Montgomery

Testimonials

‘LCF Law’s contentious probate team is a small but dedicated team, headed by Ragan Montgomery. All team members are courteous and professional on even the smallest query.’

‘Ragan Montgomery is particularly strong on both the areas of trusts and contentious probate. She is also a member of Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists as well as a member of Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners which gives the added reassurance of recognised expertise.’

‘I have used this practice for personal domestic matters over 40 years in its present or previous guises. Partners and other staff are highly professional, offer a readily accessible personal service, and ‘know their stuff’. ’

‘Ragan Montgomery adopts a highly informed and common sense approach in dealing with difficult people. Readily available with excellent support. Considers alternative approaches and takes on board my thoughts before identifying the next steps.’

‘High degree of understanding, compassion and flexibility. Billing was efficient with flexible approach to payments and billing. What makes this practice unique is the humanity and care towards clients.’

‘A well trained team by Ragan Montgomery. She is sensible and will always protect her clients, but won’t take silly points in letters which helps everyone to get the job done. She inspires her juniors who are loyal to her and the firm. They have done well during the pandemic and have embraced remote working and the virtual world. Very good value for money.’

‘Ragan Montgomery is impressive and has a loyal junior team behind her who are developing and coming on with their skillset. She is an asset to the firm and has a good local profile.’

Taylor & Emmet LLP

Sheffield-based partner Alexander Watkinson leads the contentious probate offering at Taylor & Emmet LLP. A registered ACTAPS member, he oversees a team that handles Court of Protection matters alongside trust and estate disputes pertaining to inheritance, the validity of wills and the rectification of claims. Notably, as much of the department’s work relates to interfamilial disagreements, it is particularly experienced in assisting individuals who lack capacity as a result of old age, catastrophic accident, mental illness or learning disabilities. John Tunnard and Komal Landa are additional names to note.

Practice head(s):

Alex Watkinson

Other key lawyers:

John Tunnard; Komal Landa

Testimonials

‘What makes this practice unique is the sheer professionalism and reassurance that they offer. This was a very sensitive and emotional issue, which the team handled in the best possible way. John Tunnard dealt with this superbly and his knowledge and experience highlighted the outcome. The practice always responded quickly to any questions asked and I was very satisfied and appreciated their expertise in this subject. ’

‘Alexander Watkinson heads a department that offers specialist legal advice and representation within the context of a high street firm. The team are approachable and knowledgeable and are focused on resolving disputes in an efficient and cost-effective manner.’

‘Alexander Watkinson has a wealth of experience in contentious trusts and probate work. He provides down to earth advice and seeks to minimise cost and upset to the parties involved by promoting early settlement where possible. John Tunnard’s background in non-contentious probate give him an advantage when structuring terms of settlement and in implementing them. Meanwhile Komal Landa’s litigation background mean she is able to fight her clients’ corner when needed.’

‘Alex Watkinson leads his team with knowledge and flair, and is lucky to have found such great talents as associates Komal Landa and John Tunnard.’

‘Alex Watkinson is hugely knowledgeable and not afraid to delegate if he considers that a more objective view will benefit his clients.’

‘Taylor & Emmet are among the best contentious trusts and probate firms I have dealt with. They deal with a wide variety of interesting and high value domestic and international trusts and probate work, often running well into the millions of pounds. They invariably deal with those matters efficiently and highly competently, and are a very great pleasure to be instructed by. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anybody both within the region and more broadly.’

‘Alex Watkinson is great. I cannot recommend him highly enough. He is personable, very experienced, and very good at what he does. ’

McCormicks

At McCormicks in Harrogate, the key name is founding partner Peter McCormick. Known for assisting executors, trustees and potential beneficiaries of significant family estates, the team also handles cross-border matters regarding assets which may require protection or seizure. Philip Edmondson and Elaine Lightfoot are other important contacts.

Practice head(s):

Peter McCormick

Other key lawyers:

Philip Edmondson; Elaine Lightfoot

Ramsdens Solicitors LLP

Led by former Irwin Mitchell partner Nazia Nawaz, the team at Ramsdens Solicitors LLP stands out as a specialised contentious private client offering. Dealing solely with probate and Court of Protection litigation, the team handles inheritance tax matters, will validity, beneficiary disputes and financial abuse/misappropriated funds. In addition, the firm has substantive experience in statutory will applications and has recently increased its instructions in proprietary estoppel, farming issues and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. Although retired from the practice, Steven Singh remains a key consultant. Jodie Wielgus is another name to note. 

Practice head(s):

Nazia Nawaz

Other key lawyers:

Steven Singh; Jodie Wielgus

Testimonials

‘I was introduced to Ramsdens when my solicitor, Nazia Nawaz, joined them from a different firm and I was allowed to keep with her for continuity. Nazia has been the best solicitor I have ever met and I have had trouble finding one to help me with my case. She is very articulate verbally and written, and is quick to understand difficult situations.’

‘Nazia Nawaz has experience and expertise in her field. A superb litigator and adviser.’

‘Jodie Wielgus and Nazia Nawaz were at the opposite end of the spectrum to the previous firm. They worked seamlessly together. They were professional and courteous at all times. I had several phone calls with them both and they always reassured me that things were fine and would turn out ok. Which they ultimately did. I cannot praise Jodie and Nazia highly enough. My life for a year was a total rollercoaster but they brought me in to safety. The final price was extremely reasonable considering the amount of time and indeed effort they put into my case.’

‘I am incredibly grateful and impressed with the professionalism, time and care provided by Nazia Nawaz and her team at Ramsdens.’

‘Nazia Nawaz is a consummate professional who commands respect from all who come into contact with her. She has a genuine expertise in the field of contentious probate which combined with her exceptional work ethic makes her a real force to be reckoned with in this niche area of the law.’

Weightmans LLP

The disputed wills trusts and estates team at Weightmans LLP handles high-value matters, many of which contain multi jurisdictional aspects. The national team is led by Leeds-based principal associate Matthew Morton, and covers Inheritance Act 1975 claims, will validity, and matters pertaining to the administration of estates. In addition, the firm advises in relation to breach of trust actions and issues relating to proprietary estoppel. The practice is supported by a number of STEP-qualified lawyers and provides complementary support in areas such as employment and tax. Associate David McGuire is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Morton

Other key lawyers:

David McGuire

Testimonials

‘Matthew Morton stands out as someone with an in-depth knowledge of the law but an ability to apply it in a practical sense to his cases.’

‘Matthew Morton can get to the nub of the issues quickly and seeks to resolve them effectively, either through early settlement if possible, or through robust action if not’.