STEP, alongside ICAEW and the Law Society, has recently published a guide to help trustees determine the status of UK trusts under the UK/US FATCA IGA. There is still a misconception on the part of some practitioners that only UK trusts with US connections or assets have to take note of FATCA. The reality is that all UK trusts need to think about their status under FATCA. In particular, trusts with corporate trustees or who use discretionary fund managers may need to register with the IRS. Any trust that needs to register must do so by this autumn. Moreover we expect that many banks and fund managers will shortly be contacting trustees to establish the FATCA status of the trust and begin the required due diligence process.
For the time being the STEP/ICAEW/Law Society guide is provisional. We are expecting revised HMRC Guidance later this spring, although the fundamental building blocks of the IGA are by now well established. We would therefore urge practitioners who have not yet done so to consider urgently the status of all UK trusts for which they are responsible under the FATCA regulations. The guide and associated flowchart can be found here.
Hélène Anne Lewis
This week I sent out a letter welcoming everyone back for another busy year in 2014.
Looking back at 2013, I noted that my role was marked by three Cs:
Communication – Not just telling our membership about our mission and values but taking on board their own visions for the future of STEP
Connections – Part of the Chair’s role is to bridge any gaps between branches and chapters around the world and STEP HQ in London. I have strived to cross the geographic divides with shared common interests and sharing knowledge and solutions
Collegiality – Mentoring and engaging in constructive dialogue across borders will help build a stronger more effective Society.
I believe we can be proud of our accomplishments in 2013. We made significant progress in adding value to STEP’s educational range, which will continue this year as we implement new courses – in both online and traditional formats. The last year also saw new chapters launch in Brazil, Curaçao, Hungary, Mexico and Canada. In Latin America alone we have seen a 54 per cent growth in membership! This growth is expected to continue throughout 2014 with a new Chapter in Mumbai developing strongly. Finally, the Society’s role as an industry leader is highlighted by our response to over 50 official consultations as well as significant changes we secured in the FATCA IGA mechanisms which are likely to be adopted for the proposed OECD system.
As the momentum of our work lives picks up for another year, I encourage all of you to make the most of your affiliation with STEP. The Society has much to offer for enthusiastic members.
Click here to read my full Chair’s letter.
As a professional body, STEP seeks to promote the highest standards of practice amongst its members. In an increasingly regulated world, it has long seemed to me odd that the preparation of the most sensitive document most people will ever sign, their will, is almost entirely unregulated in England & Wales. Anyone can do it, whether or not for reward. There are no universal standards of practice beyond those areas where the Courts have intervened. For some considerable time there have been calls for statutory regulation, but so far to no avail.
I therefore very much welcome the implementation by STEP of a Code for Will Preparation in England & Wales, which will come into effect on 1 April 2014. The Code will be binding on all members of STEP engaged in will preparation in England & Wales.
The Code is a guide to established best practice in will preparation. It is neither revolutionary nor excessive. Rather it reflects a set of behaviours precisely mirroring the expectations of the client: that he or she will be dealt with conscientiously, ethically and in a timely manner. These are principles that STEP seeks to promote in all areas of practice undertaken by its members. In the absence of statutory regulation, the STEP Code provides essential guidance for STEP practitioners, and assurance for their clients that they will enjoy the highest levels of service when instructing a STEP member to prepare their will. STEP members in England & Wales should greet the Code with enthusiasm and waste no time in bringing it to the attention of their clients.