STEP has published the Third Edition of its Standard Provisions.
The STEP Standard Provisions are a set of ready-made clauses that can be inserted into a will. They provide protections and powers that enable the executors or trustees to effectively deal with the estate.
Since they were first published in 1992, the STEP Standard Provisions have become an important element in the drafting of wills in England and Wales, with practitioners incorporating them into countless wills and settlements. Amanda Simmonds TEP, Chair of the STEP Standard Provisions Working Group said:
‘The introduction of the STEP Standard Provisions hugely simplified the drafting of wills. Prior to their introduction, will-drafters would need to include lengthy clauses in wills listing the various powers granted to the executors and trustees. Practitioners now need only confirm that the STEP Standard Provisions will apply.
They benefit clients by making sure that important clauses are included in an easily understandable way that avoids technical and legal jargon. With trust and will legislation changing considerably since the publication of the Second Edition in 2011, the STEP Standard Provisions needed to be updated and modernised.”
What has changed?
As with the Second Edition, the Third Edition is divided into two parts – the Standard Provisions, which it is considered might reasonably apply to all wills and trusts; and the Special Provisions, which may be beneficial in the administration of some wills and trusts, but not all.
The most significant amendment in the Third Edition is the standardisation of the clauses on trust corporations, which take into account wording from the terms and conditions of trust corporations.
Other major changes include the removal of three provisions:
- Provision 5 of the Second Edition was removed as the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 s8 amends s31 Trustee Act 1925; and s9 amends s32 Trustee Act 1925 so that the purpose of this provision has been resolved in statute.
- Provision 18 of the Second Edition was removed as a Special Provision and incorporated in Standard Provision 5 of the Third Edition.
- Provision 22 of the Second Edition was removed, as the valuation should be made as at the time of the appropriation as a matter of general law. If required in a particular case, it would be better added as a bespoke power in the will or settlement after appropriate explanation to the client when deciding whether to include it.
What practitioners need to know about using the Third Edition:
- The STEP Standard Provisions should only be used in relation to wills and trusts subject to the law of England and Wales. Their incorporation in wills and trusts governed by the law of a different jurisdiction brings with it a range of risks, which could potentially lead to litigation.
- As previously, all of the Standard Provisions apply in all cases where these provisions are incorporated, unless any particular provision is specifically excluded. The Special Provisions must be expressly incorporated with reference to which are to apply. If there is no reference to the Special Provisions, then none will apply.
- Although practitioners can continue to use either the First or Second Edition, it is expected that the Third Edition will be the usual version used.
- The Standard Provisions are not a replacement for competence in will drafting. Practitioners, settlors and testators should consider carefully the powers to be incorporated and in particular the appropriateness of any Special Provisions to a client’s circumstances should always be considered.
- To assist practitioners, STEP has developed a Toolkit, FAQs and an overview for clients, all of which are available on the STEP website at www.step.org/step-standard-provisions
The STEP Standard Provisions were originally drafted by James Kessler QC TEP. Amendments, additions and guidance to this latest edition were undertaken by a STEP Working Party chaired by Amanda Simmonds TEP.
A circular accepting the Third Edition was issued by the Probate Registrar on 26 September 2023, officially approving these for use.