For the Public
What is STEP?
STEP is a global professional body, comprised of lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures. We provide confidence to families by setting standards, training and educating our members, and upholding those standards. Full STEP members, known as 'TEPs' are internationally recognized as experts in their field.
STEP's aims include raising the public profile of trust and estate work as a profession. In order to hold and maintain STEP's Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation, STEP members must maintain ongoing educational requirements. Prospective members must pass rigorous training standards.
A key element of STEP's ongoing mandate is to provide a forum for discussion and advancement of practitioner knowledge of relevant tax, accounting, administration, statute and case law through regular branch seminars, symposia, and an annual national conference.
STEP Canada is also active in making representations of a technical nature to government, policymakers and related professional bodies, with the goal of promoting better understanding of trusts and estates, and improving related law and policy.
All STEP members belong to a Branch or Chapter that provides professional development and networking at a local level. STEP Canada’s Board of Directors is the sovereign body of STEP in Canada, and every year at the Annual General Meeting the members of STEP Canada appoint or elect members to fill the vacancies.
View past Chairpersons of the Board
View our current Board of Directors
View our current Branch and Chapter Executives
What do STEP members do?
As specialists in inheritance and succession planning, STEP members draft wills and trusts, administer estates, act as trustees and advise families on how best to structure their finances to ensure compliance and preserve their assets for future generations. Some examples of what STEP members may advise on are:
- providing for someone following their partner’s death, while protecting the interests of their children
- ensuring elderly or vulnerable relatives are cared for and supported
- helping families with interests spread across the world to be compliant with the laws and tax rules of different countries
- ensuring that a family business will pass safely from one generation to another
- helping clients to support charitable causes in an effective way.
What is a 'TEP'?
'TEP' stands for 'Trust and Estate Practitioner', and is the designation given to full members of STEP. To become a TEP, practitioners must have a combination of specialist qualifications and experience, including significant involvement at a specialist level with inheritance and succession planning.
What are the other categories of STEP membership?
There are other categories of STEP membership, including Affiliate (entry-level) and Associate (mid-level) members. These members are either working towards gaining the requisite qualifications and/or experience for full STEP membership (TEP) or have chosen to remain at Affiliate or Associate level. All members, including Affiliate and Associate members, must adhere to STEP's Code of Professional Conduct.
Why should I use a TEP?
Choosing a professional to help you to deal with such important and often sensitive issues can be difficult. Many aspects of planning are non-regulated, meaning anyone can write a will, for example, regardless of training or expertise. With a TEP, you’re in safe hands.
- Expertise: TEPs are recognised experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience. By joining STEP and maintaining their membership they have also shown significant commitment to their continued professional development in this specialist area.
- Integrity: TEPs are subject to an extensive Code of Professional Conduct, requiring them at all times to act with integrity and in a manner that inspires the confidence, respect and trust of their clients and of the wider community. These professional standards provide you with a clear understanding of what to expect from a TEP, and importantly if you feel one of our members is not acting in accordance with these standards, you can make a complaint under our Disciplinary Process.
- Knowledge: TEPs are required to maintain and develop the knowledge and skills relevant to their role as a condition of their continued membership. This means TEPs will always be up to date with the latest legal, technical and regulatory developments that may affect you and your situation.
- Connections: TEPs have access to a global network of 20,000 advisors and professionals, enabling them to share knowledge and expertise across professional and geographic boundaries and to offer a joined-up service that can really add value to you as a client.
How can I find a STEP member?
You can use our Member Search to find a STEP member near you, or to check whether your advisor is a STEP member. The Member Directory contains full TEP members, Affiliates, and Associates.
Click here for the Member Directory
Do you have any helpful advice or information for families?
Advising Families Website
STEP has a public-facing website designed to provide clarity on many complex issues families may encounter. It has information and advice on anything from drafting a will to retiring abroad.
Visit the Canadian Advising Families website
Glossary of common terms
STEP has put together a glossary or common words that you may come across when talking to an advisor or reading about issues in this area.
Visit the Glossary
How can I file a complaint about a STEP member?
STEP members are expected to abide by the STEP Codes of Conduct, which set out the key ethical and professional standards a member should uphold. These professional standards provide a clear understanding of what to expect from a STEP member.
If you feel one of our members is not acting in accordance with STEP’s professional standards, you can make a complaint via the Complaints and Disciplinary Process.
STEP's codes of conduct and disciplinary processes and procedures are overseen by the Professional Standards Committee and the Disciplinary Panel.
How can I find out more information about STEP?
The STEP Canada National Office team is happy to help. While we may not have all the answers, we can connect you with those that do.