Alice Letts

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STEP and CLT course

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Today I attended workshop 1 for the STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) foundation course for England and Wales.  It was run in partnership with the CLT (Central Law Training).  The class was held in Holborn, London. There were a number of references to New Zealand. I was particularly interested whenever NZ was mentioned, seeing as I am a New Zealander, qualified in NZ and my mentor for STEP is also a New Zealander living in NZ. STEP is the association of practitioners dealing in trust and estate matters. It is multi disciplinary and it’s members range from tax advisers to bankers to insurance specialists to accountants and solicitors, to name a few. STEP originated in England it has now spread to many countries across the globe, and this includes New Zealand. Our class mix was not quite as diverse. Everyone sitting in my row were all solicitors. There was however a lady sitting in front of me who was a tax adviser. I haven’t had a chance to mingle with everyone in the class yet so it will be interesting to see.

Our tutor Martyn Frost is very knowledgeable on this subject – as you would expect. He explained he has been working in the field for four decades. He started off working at Barclays. Now he works for a number of organisations and he also has his own consultancy, Trenfield Trust & Estate Consultancy.  Frost still takes will instructions and it was fascinating learning about his and his colleagues past experiences and issues. He also had been involved, as the Trustee, taking squatters to court to regain possession of trust property. Our tutor explained that if a Trustee had failed to take measures to get a rental income for the beneficiaries, then the Trustee is potentially liable to being sued by the beneficiaries for the loss of income. From all accounts it is onerous to be a Trustee with the obligations it entails. There are a number of cases where Trustees (usually Solicitors) have been sued for failing to invest or failing to be prudent or failing to produce bank accounts and information to beneficiaries. Frost also represents claimants in court who instruct him to sue Trustees who have caused the beneficiaries to suffer loss, whether it be income loss or capital loss.

This course is divided into five modules as follows:

1). The legal system
2). Trusts
3). Wills and Probate
4). Accounting
5). Tax

Today, in workshop one we covered the first three topics. Next month, in workshop two we will cover the last two. I must admit I have already studied all these topics in the past. However it was many years ago. Probably a decade or more ago. My memory is not the best either (hence I am forced to write everything down, and keep immaculate records – a habit that comes in handy). So it was very useful for me to do this course. I understood the concepts and what was said in class. Which is always reassuring! Nothing worse than sitting there clueless. It was a great revision day and I thoroughly enjoyed today’s workshop.

We were given two textbooks to supplement our course materials. One text book was on succession and the other one was on the law of trusts.

Frost could tell (perhaps from our white hair and wrinkles, he he) that some of us had not studied in a long time. So he ended the class by giving us some study tips for the exam. He gave us this lovely quote “a little, but often”. It’s very pragmatic advice and it was almost as if he was speaking directly to and only to me. I will definitely need to take this on board and get into the routine and habit of putting just one hour aside every day. Frost said one hour every day is more effective than nothing six days a week followed by seven or eight hours on a Sunday. By studying in short but frequent spurts it gives time and opportunity for the material to digest, to click, and lastly to be stored in our memory. The exam in May is a closed book exam. So you see we will most certainly need to get our memories trained up for the three hour exam!

Now you know how I insist on taking photos of food? Here are the photos I took from our lunch. I was very surprised and very happy to discover that STEP/CLT were treating us to a hot buffet lunch! 3 course no less! We also had coffee and tea and biscuits at our disposal …. all ….. day …. long! Yes, I am most definitely looking forward to workshop number two next month. And you can guess why, can’t you! 😉

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