On 2 November 2023, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) published the third edition of their standard and special provisions for Wills. The provisions are designed to be “ready-made clauses” that can be incorporated into Wills to “provide protections and powers that enable […] executors or trustees to effectively deal with” a person’s estate. 

The provisions enable Wills to be kept much shorter because rather than setting out the details in the Will, there is a short clause that incorporates the provisions along the lines of: "The standard provisions of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (3rd Edition) shall apply".

STEP were keen to remain consistent with the structure of the provisions from earlier editions and therefore the ‘standard’ (likely to be included in all Wills ) and ‘special’ (to be included in specific circumstances) distinction has remained in place. 

In regard to substance, the following are the main changes by the third edition: 

  1. Standardisation of the clauses on trust corporations – now reflects the usual terms and conditions of trust corporations. This includes widening the ability of trust corporations to charge for their services on such terms and conditions as may be in place from time to time rather than being frozen at a point in time.
  2. Powers of maintenance and advancement – updated to reflect statutory changes made in 2014 that broadened trustee powers over the entire interest of a beneficiary. 
  3. Powers over capital when a minor or beneficiary without capacity is involved – this has become a standard provision rather than special provision (that would have to be specifically incorporated into a Will). The move of this provision to the standard provisions reflects STEP's understanding of the increase in prevalence in general practice of trustees needing to transfer assets to the parents of a beneficiary under 18 or to pay funds on behalf of or to a person that the trustees consider has a care or financial responsibility for a beneficiary who may lack capacity.
  4. Appropriation values – general law dictates that the valuation for appropriation should be made at the time of the appropriation. STEP has decided to remove the provision which allowed executors to use a valuation at the date of death instead. 

Though the STEP provisions are widely used by solicitors in simpler Wills, care should be taken to review which of the standard and special provisions are included in each Will. It may be necessary to tailor which provisions are used depending on the facts of the case.  

In the case of clients with more complicated affairs or wishes many solicitors use bespoke clauses rather than the STEP provisions. 

Wills using the earlier editions of the provisions remain valid and in force. On any next update of the Will it would, however, be sensible to ensure that the appropriate edition of the provisions – and the appropriate provisions of that edition – are incorporated. 

This article was written by Callum Duckmanton and Andrew Kerr