As you may be aware, STEP’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) represent opportunities for practitioners to take an active role in a particular area of practice to drive change and share ideas with like-minded colleagues across jurisdictions. Given the continued interest from practitioners in becoming involved in STEP’s SIGS, I think it’s worth detailing why now is an opportune time to channel your enthusiasm in a meaningful and rewarding way.
We presently have six SIGs, each focussed on a different area of trust and estate practice:
This SIG focusses on the unique challenges and considerations that come with advising clients running a family business. One of the specific challenges that this SIG concentrates on is the requirements of business families to not only navigate the standard trials of any business, but to do so within family structures that are made of multiple generations with differing aspirations.
The Charity SIG was established in London almost 15 years ago with a subsequent branch forming in Sydney as a means of facilitating the discussion of legal and accountancy issues relevant to the charity sector. Most recently this SIG has responded to the Charity Commission’s consultation: Extending the Charity Commission’s powers to tackle abuse in charities
Contentious Trusts and Estates
This SIG was born out of increasing instances of trustees becoming involved in hard-fought court proceedings. The group marshal expertise and promote best practices — including using alternative resolution avenues to court proceedings — in dealing with contentious trust and estate disputes. They also offer expertise to non-contentious practitioners to help them avoid pitfalls encountered in trust and estate litigation. Most recently Jeremy Posnansky QC of Farrer & Co explained the case of Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd in a STEP webcast for the benefit of practitioners working in the field of contentious trusts.
Now in its tenth year, this SIG provides seminars on both tax and ‘civil’ topics surrounding such conflicts of law issues, touching on marriage, death, divorce and property law questions within cross border practice. This has been particularly relevant recently with the implementation of FATCA and its impacts on dozens of jurisdictions. Each year the Cross-Border Estates SIG also awards the Qualified Practitioner Student of the Year Prize to the author of the best essay on the topic of Cross-Border Estates.
While still relatively new, the Mental Capacity SIG has sparked the interest of many practitioners working with vulnerable clients and clients faced with a loss of capacity. This SIG seeks to address the law, influence policy and provide specialist guidance to incapacitated clients, their families and carers. This SIG has a dedicated annual conference to stay abreast of developments and is tied closely to STEP’s newly launched Advanced Certificate in Advising Vulnerable Clients.
With family wealth passing to younger generations clients are continuing, and indeed expanding, the scope of their philanthropic giving. This SIG encourages best practice by lawyers, accountants and wealth managers to ensure that clients’ best intentions and legacies are backed up with the use of effective charity models.
Why join a SIG?
In addition to working in an area that interests them, SIG members also receive other benefits from their involvement including dedicated events and webcasts that count toward CPD progression; access to online resources; member discounts; and outstanding network opportunities, bringing together practitioners from around the world who shared a passion for a specific area of trust and estate work through events and networking.
If you have an interest in one or more of the special areas of trust end estate practice covered by our SIGs, I strongly encourage you to become involved. Being a part of a SIG is an excellent way to collaboratively become best positioned to further policy development, industry expertise and your own ability to best help your clients. Membership in SIGs is currently free* and is open to practitioners who are not members of STEP.
More detailed updates on each SIG will be published on the STEP Blog in the coming weeks, so watch this space. In the meantime please feel free to contact me with your SIG questions.
Emma Yeats is STEP’s Special Interest Group Executive
*With the exception of the UK Charities group