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Trusts, Probate and Estates: Non-Contentious

Michael’s traditional chancery practice encompasses all aspects of non-contentious litigation, drafting and advice across trusts, probate and estates (including cross-border estates), and related private client tax.

Michael is ranked as a Rising Star in The Legal 500 2021 (Private Client: Trusts and Probate) and is described as having extraordinary technical knowledge and a keen eye for detail – he has an exceptional understanding of trust law in particular and is able to grasp and advise upon extremely complex matters quickly.’

Michael was recognised by the Legal Week Private Client Global Elite 2020 as “One to Watch”.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Michael spent six years as a trusts law academic, as Fellow & Tutor in law at Somerville College, Oxford. He continues to write widely on the law of trusts, and his published work includes the first book on the so-called “rule in Re Hastings-Bass” following the decision of the Supreme Court in Pitt v Holt [2013] UKSC 26: Trustee Decision Making: The Rule in Re Hastings-Bass (OUP 2015), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on trustees’ powers and duties.

Michael’s trust and estate drafting and advice experience includes:

  • Drafting trust documents, including new trust deeds, deeds of appointment and release, and resolutions exercising powers of advancement (including by way of settled advance)
  • Advising on and drafting deeds of variation and ancillary documents, including where there has been a prior variation.
  • Advising trustees on their powers and duties, the disclosure of trust documents, sale of trust property, the appointment and removal of trustees, the validity of past actions and decisions, and whether an application to the court for directions is required.
  • Advising on cross-border inheritance issues, including questions of domicile, jurisdiction and choice of law, the interaction of wills in multiple jurisdictions, and succession under the European Succession Regulation.
  • Advising trustees (in conjunction with leading tax counsel) on the re-structuring of sub-trust assets and the establishment of a new LLP to carry out the trust’s business.
  • Advising charity trustees across a wide range of matters, including charity administration, satisfaction of the public benefit requirement, and giving modern effect to very old and out-dated trust terms.

Michael’s non-contentious litigation experience includes:

  • Advising on and appearing in applications under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958, including applications to extend perpetuity periods and to permit accumulation, and acting for minor and unborn beneficiaries.
  • Advising on proceedings under section 57 of the Trustee Act 1925 to extend trustees’ administrative powers.
  • Advising on and drafting proceedings before the BVI Commercial Court in relation to extending the powers conferred on a trustee, and authorising trustee remuneration.

Michael’s private client tax experience includes:

  • Advising on the burden of UK IHT in a cross-border estate with worldwide assets and both English and New York wills.
  • Advising on the IHT consequences of a codicil of doubtful validity in the context of a cross-border estate.
  • Advising trustees on the CGT consequences of their trust being exported to another jurisdiction.
  • Advising on the IHT consequences of property comprised in a “relevant property” settlement also being treated as a gift with reservation of benefit.
  • Advising on the IHT, CGT and Income Tax consequences of using a Deed of Variation to establish new settlements (both within and after two years of death).