Thought Leadership and Research

Loss of Mental Capacity: A Global Perspective

With globally ageing populations, and dementia cases set to triple by 2050, issues concerning capacity are increasingly important and relevant in all aspects of work relating to inheritance and succession planning.

But what is the impact of the increasing numbers of capacity-related issues experienced by members and their clients? What is the impact on day-to-day practise? What issues arise? What support do practitioners require? What issues do clients experience? How can legislators and policy makers assist by improving legislative and regulatory frameworks? What information does the public need?

This report, published in November 2023, address these questions and sets out the opportunity STEP and its members have to play an active role in assisting clients to plan for and take advanced decisions, should they lose capacity in the future. Download the Report here.

Wills and Trusts: Buyer Beware: uncovering the impact of unqualified advisors in the estate planning sector

This report, published in September 2023, shares the experiences of our members about how unqualified or incompetent advisors in the UK are taking advantage of their clients or letting them down because they lack specialist skills and knowledge.

The report explains how dishonest, unqualified and incompetent will writers are costing people millions in extra tax, causing significant distress and leaving grieving families to deal with the financial and emotional consequences of bad advice. It also offers solutions to address the issues it raises. Download the Report here.

Meeting the needs of modern families

Published in November 2021, this report identifies the key complexities and constraints currently facing families and their advisors and highlights the need for advisors and legislators to adapt and modernise in order to keep up with the needs of today’s families. Download the Report here.

Digital assets: A call to action

This report, published in September 2021, highlights the findings of a joint research project by STEP and the Microsoft-funded Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary University of London on the risks and challenges posed by digital assets to estate planning and administration.

The findings demonstrate the prevalence of digital assets in modern estate planning and administration; the difficulties practitioners and clients experience accessing digital assets on death or incapacity of a client's family member; the need for law reform to enable effective estate planning; and the need for more education for practitioners on best practices for dealing with digital assets. Download the Report here.

Responsible Stewardship of Wealth

In June 2021, STEP published a new Guide to Family Dialogues on the Responsible Stewardship of Wealth, marking the start of a discussion among STEP members and the wider advisory community on responsible stewardship principles and what they mean for wealth holders in an age of financial complexity, extended families, increasing inequality and shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Download the Guide here.

STEP hosted a webinar on the same topic on 22 June 2021: watch the webinar here

Social and Economic Benefits of Trusts

Published in January 2021, this STEP report on the Social and Economic Benefits of Trusts draws together existing evidence and research about the ways in which trusts can be, and are, used for wider societal benefit, and how they impact every facet of society. In part, this is about improving understanding and addressing common misconceptions, both by presenting the positive evidence base and by shining a light on how and why trusts are used. It is for practitioners, regulators, policymakers and the public to determine how the use of trusts will evolve in future. In pulling together the available evidence, this report seeks to create a more detailed picture about trusts and how they are used, and to demonstrate the important role that they play in what may be very ordinary contexts.

STEP hosted a webinar on 24 February 2021 discussing this topic. View the webinar here

Technology and wills – The dawn of a new era (COVID-19 special edition)

Written by Kimberley Martin TEP and published in August 2020, Technology and wills – The dawn of a new era (COVID-19 special edition) (PDF 1.37 MB) details the increasing use of technology in will making around the world; including the rise, and use, of dispensing powers, electronic wills and remote witnessing via audio-visual link. Kimberley is Director at Worrall Moss Martin Lawyers and a member of the Digital Assets Special Interest Group.

Estate Planning in Singapore

A new report, Estate Planning in Singapore (PDF 587 KB), published in July 2020, demonstrates that Singaporeans are ill-prepared for end of life and incapacitating events, and points to the need for more education on the importance of planning for death and incapacity. The report follows similar research and findings in Australia in 2017. The research is led by STEP Academic Community members, Professor of Practice Adam Steen and Mr Marc Olynyk from Deakin University, and Professor Steve D’Alessandro from the University of Tasmania.

COVID-19 Employer Insight

COVID-19: Employer Insight (PDF 248 KB) published in June 2020, is a research project to investigate the impact that COVID-19 has had to date on STEP’s Employer Partners and to gain feedback on their ideas on the future impact that the pandemic might have, not only on their business but on the industry as a whole.

Estate Planning in Australia

Estate Planning in Australia Report (PDF 6.09 MB), published in 2017, identified the extent of succession and estate planning already undertaken and the expected demand for these services in Australia. Findings from this research inform the business and wider Australian community, promote the need for appropriate succession and estate planning and promote the role of STEP within the financial services sector in Australia. The research was conducted by STEP's Academic Community, led by Professor Adam Steen TEP and Dr Chris Graves (Adelaide University).

Offshore Perceptions

A STEP Research Report (PDF 2 MB), published in 2016, based on a survey of more than 1,000 practitioners highlighting the main challenges currently faced by offshore practitioners and businesses, and identifying future opportunities for growth.

Engaging Advisors

The findings of a report jointly commissioned by STEP and the Institute for Family Business (IFB) with UCG serve as an important resource in developing future best practice in the family business advisory market. The research revealed some new perspectives on how outcomes for families and their advisors can be improved and raises awareness of the need for stronger interpersonal communication skills among advisors.

Cowboy Will Writing - Incompetence and Dishonesty in the UK Wills Market

This STEP Policy Briefing looks into the UK will-writing market and incorporates a survey of STEP members that illustrates common problems faced by consumers in the industry.

The Future of Asian Trust and Estate Practice

An Asian-focused report in the '5 Futures' series looking at the future of practice in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Future of Canadian Trust and Estate Practice

A Canadian-focused report in the '5 Futures' series looking at the future of practice in Canada.

The Future of the Trust Industry in Switzerland

A survey by STEP in Switzerland and the SATC on the future of the trust industry in Switzerland.

Helping Families Secure Their Future

'Helping Families Secure Their Future - an agenda for policymakers' is STEP’s 2010 UK election year manifesto.

International Financial Centers and the World Economy

In this report, commissioned by STEP, James R. Hines Jr. assesses the role of offshore financial centres in the world economy.

Making Tax Data Exchange Secure

A STEP Policy Briefing examining the issues raised by the OECD's programme to extend the network of Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs).

Offshore Evolution: The STEP Perspective

Offshore Evolution: The STEP Perspective is a global survey of 563 STEP members conducted in October 2009 based on the findings of the earlier STEP Offshore Evolution Report.

Offshore Evolution: Transparency and Solutions in Cross Border Wealth Structuring

This report covers many areas including:

  • The impact of the policy and economic environment
  • How changes affect clients
  • Competition
  • Business Management
  • Products and Services.

Trusted Advisor: The Future

A report on the future of UK trust and estate practice by STEP.

Trust Reporting Systems - An International Comparison

This Policy Briefing examines the issue of how to best ensure that national authorities have adequate access to key information on trusts.