• February 28, 2024
 New STEP research on loss of mental capacity

New STEP research on loss of mental capacity

STEP continues to focus on the significant issues that surround loss of capacity particularly in light of a recent report stating that dementia cases are set to triple by 2050. Therefore supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, we wanted to determine the impact of the increasing numbers of capacity-related issues experienced by members and their clients.

To address these questions, we conducted a research survey.

The Survey

The survey was sent to STEP members globally in June/July 2023 and received 756 responses from respondents in 44 countries. The survey responses provided a wealth of insight, which is set out in the report[1] but can be summarised in the headings below.

Key Findings

  1. Capacity issues and requests for advice on the issues have been increasing and will continue to increase.
  2. The ageing population demographic is the primary reason for this increase.
  3. Financial abuse is increasing. It is most prevalent when there is uncertainty about whether a person lacks the mental capacity to make a decision or when a representative is exercising their authority on behalf of the incapable person.
  4. Capacity is a complex issue for practitioners, service providers and families. Although the lasting/enduring power of attorney (LPA/EPA) is an important legal tool for planning for future incapacity, there are barriers and issues to be addressed locally and through policy and legislation.
  5. There is a demand for cross-border recognition and portability of LPA/EPA powers.

The report makes three key recommendations, all of which require collaboration with legal associations, governmental and nongovernmental organisations, charities, financial institutions and health care professionals to formulate better and more universally accepted and applicable policy.

  1. Ensure global legislation is robust and consistent – We are calling on all jurisdictions globally to implement robust and consistent legal frameworks for safeguarding the financial affairs of incapable clients through powers of representation.
  2. Safeguard against abuse – STEP will work to raise awareness of the risks among all stakeholders to ensure these are fully understood and addressed in legislation and practice globally.
  3. Educate about capacity and associated planning – More needs to be done to educate all stakeholders on issues related to mental capacity and associated planning. STEP can play a vital role in this, from raising public and policymaker awareness about the issues and the need for planning, to working with financial institutions and utility companies to identify and resolve their challenges, as well as supporting practitioners and allied professionals to provide education and guidance to build their knowledge in this area.

To address some of these issues STEP is in the process of producing a STEP Global Representative Power (the GRP)[2]: a template and a benchmark for a power of attorney that will be globally recognised and portable across borders. It will be a template that jurisdictions can look to when seeking/initiating new legislation where it fails to exist, or reviewing existing provisions for efficiency, effectiveness and best practice. We look forward to providing further information in due course.

Written by Emily Deane TEP, Technical Counsel & Head of Government Affairs



  STEP is the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. We work to improve public understanding of the issues families face in this area and promote education and high professional standards among our members. STEP members help families plan for their futures, from drafting a will to advising on issues concerning international families, protection of the vulnerable, family businesses and philanthropic giving. Full STEP members, known as TEPs, are internationally recognised as experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience. By joining STEP, practitioners and employers benefit from quality education and resources, professional recognition, and international connections. There are three routes to membership, depending on a practitioner's level of experience and qualifications – Exam, Essay or Expertise. You can join via these routes to become either a Student, Affiliate, Associate or Full Member of STEP. Find out more about joining STEP at www.step.org/join Key Services

Key Contact Kelly Farrell T: 020 3752 3700 E: Kelly.farrell@step.org Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-farrell-0b97643/ Address: Artillery House 11-19 Artillery Row London SW1P 1RT