View all newsletters
Have the short, sharp Spear's newsletter delivered to your inbox each week
  1. Wealth
  2. Wealth Management
September 8, 2020updated 09 Sep 2020 10:11am

Spear’s Tax & Trust Advisers Index: Top Recommended Lawyers

By Spear's

Each year the Spear’s Research Unit updates its index of leading Tax & Trust advisers with data supplied by firms, peer-reviews, in-depth research and dozens of interviews. Here, we profile our top recommended lawyers

Jonathan Burt, Harbottle & Lewis

Distinguished individual
Firm size: UK
Focus: Private clients

Jonathan Burt’s practice has ‘somewhat expanded’ at Harbottle & Lewis since the arrival of contentious trusts expert and joint litigation head Sofie Hoffman from Edmonds Marshall McMahon in February. ‘I’ve seen the expansion of the ambit of what I can do over trust disputes and 1975 [Inheritance] Act claims,’ he says.

A former managing director of Barclays’ trust companies, Burt is a deft hand at analysing the impact of varying factors on his clients. ‘My clients are looking for pragmatic and practical solutions to the efficient structuring of their investments,’ he explains. ‘Getting clients to understand the outcome of a complicated area of the law like tax is a rare skill.’

Ashley Crossley Baker McKenzie

Outstanding in field
Firm size: International
Focus: Cross border litigation & structuring

Ashley Crossley’s UHNW business clients are normally worth at least $400 million and often have a Middle Eastern connection. He advises them on extracting and investing funds, and occasionally on personal matters such as yachts. Crossley remains calm over the current economic situation. ‘It would not be sensible to increase the tax burden at the moment,’ he says.

‘The government may have to level up National Insurance for self-employed people, but I’m not expecting any significant tax rises.’ Nor does he detect any attack on the res-non-dom regime. ‘The UK will not want to put off entrepreneurs and businesses investing here through those types of arrangements,’ he says.

Andrew Goldstone Mishcon de Reya

Distinguished individual
Firm size: International
Focus: Philanthropy, non-doms

Andrew Goldstone established Mishcon de Reya’s formidable tax and wealth planning group more than 15 years ago, and he continues to lead its tax group and advise on all aspects of UK and offshore matters. ‘Our associates are busier than ever,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘People are sorting out their personal affairs and there’s still no shortage of demand from international clients.’

An expert on philanthropy and charitable trusts, Goldstone has seen a ‘continuing flow’ of new instructions to set up charities over the lockdown period. ‘Those with money are increasingly seeing what good they can do with it because they’re seeing the need,’ he says.

Catherine Hill, Forsters

Distinguished individual
Firm size: UK
Focus: Landed estates, estate planning

‘It’s all about succession planning, estate planning, preparing families for change,’ Catherine Hill tells Spear’s of the work that’s been keeping her busy over lockdown. A partner in Forsters’ private client team, Hill devises holding structures for family wealth and establishes family investment companies.

Content from our partners
Why investors should consider investing in nature
HSBC Global Private Banking: Revisiting your wealth plan as uncertainty abounds
Proposed non-dom changes put HNW global mobility in the spotlight

Her personal interest in the subject and referred clients led her to act for ‘significant’ landed estates of artists and collectors in a sector that carries unique nuances in such matters. ‘Whether it’s advice or copyright or help setting up business structures, it’s turned into a real industry,’ she says. ‘It’s probably the fastest-growing part of my business.’

Alice Killingbeck, KPMG

Distinguished individual
Firm size: International
Focus: Cross-border planning

Alice Killingbeck’s career was straight out of the gate after qualifying. She started at Barclays Wealth, where she became interested in the Middle Eastern market. ‘The idea is to provide integrated multidisciplinary advice to HNW and UHNW clients,’ she says. However, this year all private client practitioners found themselves in a completely unforeseen situation.

Throughout the pandemic, Killingbeck has seen surges in wills and estate planning, and themes such as philanthropy also came to the fore. ‘Clients have been more keen than ever to enshrine their values in robust legal governance frameworks,’ she says.

Sue Laing, Boodle Hatfield

Distinguished individual
Firm size: UK
Focus: International families

The straight-talking Sue Laing provides succession and tax planning advice to HNW families, particularly in private businesses and UK landed estates. ‘This is going to hurt,’ she says of the fallout from coronavirus.

‘I don’t think anybody expects anything other than rises in tax. Inheritance tax and capital gains tax are a very small part of the overall tax take, so some people think it won’t go up. I think it would be politically almost impossible for the chancellor not to raise those rates.’ International planning has become more complex, but ‘you can still achieve long-term tax savings, and you can still devolve your assets in the way you want to’.

Piers Master, Charles Russell Speechlys

Outstanding in field
firm size: International
Focus: Global UHNWs

‘We have geopolitical risks in various pockets of the world at the moment, and that means that the UHNW community is thinking ever more carefully about structuring options,’ observes Piers Master, who’s received an influx of asset structuring enquiries recently, particularly from the Middle East.

Master is a go-to adviser for a range of tax matters from trust to succession and estate planning. He leads the international group of Charles Russell Speechlys’ private wealth arm. He often asks clients to consider the matrimonial landscape of a country before migrating there. ‘I would ask what state their marriage is in, and they sometimes raise an eyebrow or two,’ he laughs.

Clare Maurice, Maurice Turnor Gardner

Eminence grise
Firm size: Boutique
Focus: UHNW families

‘In the financial crisis people were worried about losing their money. This time not only are they worried about losing their money, they’re also worried about losing their lives,’ Clare Maurice tells Spear’s. The highly personable Maurice is sage-like on issues of international tax and estate planning.

Continuity planning, residence, passports, property assets, trusts and structures have all been on the minds of clients during lockdown. Several of these issues were prevalent before, she says, but Covid-19 has added a ‘slightly different lens’. ‘It’s fundamentally about what families want to achieve,’ she says. ‘And things like the pandemic bring this into sharp relief.’

Rosamond McDowell, Payne Hiks Beach 

Distinguished individual
Firm size: UK
Focus: Estate planning

Rosamond McDowell’s ‘mixed practice’ is about half onshore and half offshore, dealing with wealth, tax, death and planning-related issues. Her clients are global in their geography and eclectic in their backgrounds, but she does, she says, gravitate towards clients she gets on with personally.

‘My theory on private client work is that you end up advising people who get on with you and like you. It’s symbiotic,’ she says. As for Covid and the road ahead, McDowell doesn’t like to speculate. However, she ‘can’t imagine any government, whether it’s Tory or Labour, wanting to introduce a new tax just at the moment when everybody’s desperate for money to start flowing again’.

Patricia Milner, Withers

Distinguished individual
Firm size:  International
Focus: Family businesses, family offices

‘I’m very lucky,’ says Patricia Milner of her ‘mixed practice’. She advises single and multi-family offices and professionals, most of whom have a UK connection. The Withers partner foresees changes. ‘A significant amount of finances are being pumped into the economy, which means that at some stage the current tax regime will have to change,’ she says. She has seen clients’ priorities shifting: ‘A focus on many families’ minds is succession planning. They are focusing very much on family and what is important to them.’ But it’s not all doom and gloom: ‘ESG investing has really gathered momentum in the last 12 months, and possibly even more so post-pandemic.’

Filippo Noseda, Mishcon de Reya

Outstanding in field
Firm size: International
Focus: Privacy

A partner in Mishcon de Reya’s private client team and a visiting international law professor at King’s College London, Filippo Noseda is a man used to being at the cutting edge of his profession. He is currently heading up a team acting for a US-born British citizen who is crowdfunding an appeal against HMRC’s decision to disclose her confidential financial data to the US authorities under FATCA. ‘We are the first firm to have advised on a legal challenge to the global mandatory disclosure rules, which many see as a direct infringement of personal privacy and human rights,’ says the firm. Noseda appeared in the European Parliament last year to address concerns with FATCA and the CRS.

Nick Rucker, Irwin Mitchell

Distinguished individual
Firm size: International
Focus: Trusts, estate planning

Nick Rucker’s client list ranges ‘from the modestly wealthy to the UHNW’, and he relishes the variety. ‘They [clients] tend to be complex,’ he says, ‘but it is surprising how often more modest clients, who aren’t as high-profile, can be just as interesting and profitable.’ The former investment and private banker, who also possesses experience in corporate law, doesn’t see himself as ‘just a tax lawyer’.

His experience is a boon to clients, who seek his advice on the commercial, business and entrepreneurial aspects of their lives, assets and companies. ‘We specialise in complexity and problem solving but we do not obsess about international work or ultra-wealth,’ he has said.

Simon Rylatt, Boodle Hatfield

Distinguished individual
Firm size: UK
Focus: Complex, international tax & estate planning

Simon Rylatt has an international practice at Boodle Hatfield, where he advises UHNW individuals, families and trusts who have high-value affairs across jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the US.

Rylatt, who was nominated for Tax & Trust Lawyer of the Year at the 2019 Spear’s Wealth Management Awards, has a strong reputation on the contentious side, though he prefers solutions everybody can live with. He doesn’t operate solely as a tax and trust lawyer for his clients, as relationships naturally deepen. ‘As part of your advisory role, you do get involved in other aspects of their lives,’ he has previously told Spear’s.

Simon Weil, BDB Pitmans

Eminence grise
Firm size: UK
Focus: Philanthropy & cross-border

With more than 40 years in private practice, Simon Weil’s ‘broader practice’ of private wealth matters is more comprehensive than most. These days, he says, a ‘particular focus’ for him is philanthropy. He’s hopeful that charitable remainder gifts – a way of giving throughout a lifetime without making an outright gift – will be introduced in the UK.

‘If they were introduced in this country it would make a huge difference to the scale of charitable giving,’ he says. Weil has noticed an uptick in interest in giving. ‘Philanthropy is taking off because of the realisation among UHNWs and HNWs that they really owe it to society to do some payback,’ he notes. ‘Covid-19 has only enhanced that.’

Basil Zirinis, Sullivan & Cromwell

Distinguished individual
Firm size: International
Focus: US-UK planning

‘If an HNW wants to invest/do business in the US, Basil is the go-to,’ one peer enthused when asked to recommend an international private client lawyer for this index. When Spear’s Zooms the New York/London-based Zirinis, he’s delighted to speak. ‘You have the most sophisticated English law firms, I think – I work with all of them,’ he says.

He’s been a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell since 1994. Zirinis has extensive experience in trust and estate litigation. Highlights include US-Bahamas litigation representing Chicago’s Pritzker family, the America’s Cup trust litigation in New York, and ‘a multi-billion-dollar’ trust case in Europe and the Caribbean.

More from the Spear’s Tax & Trust Index:

The Spear’s Tax & Trust Advisers Index

Top Ten Lawyers

Top Ten Accountants

Top Recommended Accountants

Rising Stars

Select and enter your email address The short, sharp email newsletter from Spear’s
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network