An update to the STEP Standard Provisions

On the 2 November 2023, the Society of Trust Estates and Practitioners (STEP) published the third edition of their standard provisions that can be used when will drafting.

The STEP Standard Provisions

Since the first publication of the STEP Standard Provisions back in 1992, they have become widely welcomed into the drafting of wills and trusts in England & Wales. The provisions are a set of clauses that can be incorporated into a will when being drafted by solicitors to include many of the standard amendments and provisions, with a view to make the process of dealing with an estate easier for executors and trustees.

The third edition reflects the changes in trust and will legislation and practices since the publication of the second edition, and mirrors the second edition in the sense the provisions are still divided into two parts, one part being the standard provisions and the other being the special provisions.

What's changed?

Removal of provision 5: Powers of maintenance and advancement

Previously s31 and s32 Trustees Act 1925 stated that up to half of capital and income held on trust for a minor beneficiary could be advanced to them for “education, maintenance or other benefit”. It was common to extend the capital and income held on trust to 100% rather than 50%. However, since the introduction of the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014, which amended s31 and s32, it meant provision 5 was no longer needed.

Updated provision 10: Professional trustees and trust corporations

The new provision allows a professional trustee or trust corporation to act in accordance with their “standard terms and conditions as published from time to time” as opposed to standard terms “published at the date of principle document”. This means it's now possible for a professional trustee or a trust corporation to follow their updated terms even though those terms weren’t in force when the will was made.

Removal of provision 18: Minors and beneficiaries without capacity: powers over trust capital

This provision has now been incorporated in standard provision 5 of the new edition as opposed to a special provision. The effect is to identify how income or trust property for a minor or a person lacking mental capacity should be managed when drafting a will or trust. The new provision gives clear guidance on situations where a minor’s parent or guardian is to receive income or capital on their behalf.

Removal of provision 22: Power to appropriate value at the time of death

The power of appropriation enables trustees to take specific assets out of the estate or trust to meet a beneficiary’s entitlement or interest. When trustees are exercising the power to appropriate, as a rule of law the valuation should be made as at the time of the appropriation not at the time of death. The removal of this provision should help with any confusion that arises as to the value of the asset when beneficiary receives it. STEP suggests where a change to the general rule is needed, it would be better to add it in as a bespoke power.

What do the changes mean?

  1. STEP recommends that the third edition should be used in the drafting of new wills to keep in line with recent changes in the law. However, this does not mean that older wills which use the first and second edition provisions are no longer valid or need to be updated as a matter of urgency.
  2. The STEP Standard Provisions still only apply to wills and trusts which are subject to laws in England and Wales.
  3. As with previous editions, when the STEP Provisions have been incorporated all the Standard Provisions apply unless excluded. Whereas the Special Provisions must be expressly incorporated, or none of them will apply.
  4. It will be up to the will writer to understand the STEP clauses and where it might be useful to include them. Or where it might be more appropriate to revert to original law or use bespoke drafting.

At present it's unknown whether further updates to the STEP standard provisions will be needed in the future.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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