The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) will be four years old this July.

During that period, STEP has experienced phenomenal growth. With a membership fast approaching 2,500, STEP is the fastest-growing professional body known. What is the reason for this extraordinary level of interest?

First, STEP crosses a number of professional barriers, covering practitioners from the legal profession, (solicitors, barristers and legal executives), the accounting profession, bankers, chartered secretaries and trust and company personnel.

Second, STEP is a UK society, and the UK is the home of the trust concept.

Individuals practising in the trust area from other parts of the world look to the evolution of UK jurisprudence (both in the House of Lords and in the Privy Council) as a guide. Such decisions offer binding or at least persuasive value in their home jurisdictions.

As a result, STEP has flourished internationally as well as in the UK.

While the number of members outside the UK does not yet equal that of UK practitioners, an analysis of areas of specialisation in the current membership directory indicates that almost over 50 per cent of the membership are interested in international wills and estate planning, overseas trust formation and the use of trusts in international tax planning.

In the UK there are 24 branches. Outside the UK, there are nearly one dozen, including Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Geneva, Zurich, New York, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Scotland and shortly one in Mexico.

STEP is essentially a branch-driven society, with local branches actively planning five or six events per year, including presentations, seminars, conferences and annual dinners.

Further information on STEP is available from Jonathan Cooke, on 0181-666 9713 and facsimile number 0181-666 9093.

Tim Bennett is a solicitor, MD of Belgrave, Guernsey, and deputy chair of STEP.