Rising from its recently concluded virtual Conference, the Association of Succession, Trust and Estate Planning Practitioners (ASTEP) has concluded plans to partner with major organisations and stakeholders, in its vision to entrench the practice of Trust and Estate Planning in Nigeria.
The Conference had as its theme, “The Issues with the Wealth Transfer Process through the Court Supervised System in Nigeria”. It featured three main speakers, including Mrs. N. Otunmunye, from the Valuation Department of the Lagos State Judiciary, Mrs. O. Martins who represented the Chief/ Probate Registrar of Lagos State, and Mr. Akin Oni, the Head of Trust Services and Legal at STL Trustees.
The Attorney-General of Lagos State was represented by the Head of the Office of the Administrator-General and Public Trustee of Lagos State, Mrs Omotola Rotimi, who delivered the goodwill message.
At the Conference, the following issues were highlighted:
a. The need for Registrars, Banks, and Pension Administrators to work with the Probate Registry to avoid duplication of efforts by applicants.
b. The assessment provided for properties by the Valuation unit of the Probate High Court is to a large extent, predictable and calculable by the applicants, using the Fair Market Value Book.
c. The need for certainty in the process of transmission and transfer of assets from deceased persons to their respective beneficiaries.
In the course of 2020, the Association also had cause to reach out to other organisations to partner with ASTEP, in the achievement of a mutually beneficial relationship. Such organisations include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Nigerian Bankers’ Committee. The strategy for this year is to establish strong ties with these Associations, and ASTEP has written to arrange meetings with key officials of these organisations. The purpose of this is to develop a strategy and protocol regulating the roles that these Associations have to do in the wealth transmission process, to make the process easier for deceased’s beneficiaries and probate and trust practitioners.
In post-Conference release, Secretary of the Association, Mrs. Adetola Ayanru said: ‘All over the world, several professionals and institutions play roles in facilitating the smooth transition of wealth to a deceased’s beneficiaries. These professionals include Lawyers, Accountants, Corporate Managers, Registrars, Probate Officers, Stockbrokers, Trustees, Estate Surveyors and Valuers, and relevant Regulatory authorities’.
‘Although generally, there are laid out procedures governing the administration of a deceased’s estate, the reality is that many beneficiaries to the estates and their representatives encounter challenges, in seeking to effectively administer the estate of deceased person.
‘In order to rise up to these challenges, ASTEP was created. It was founded in 2010, by seasoned professionals operating in the specialised field of succession and estate planning. Our current membership is constituted by senior Lawyers and other practitioners within the succession industry. Our Founding Trustees are Mr Osaro Eghobamien, SAN, Mrs Sola Adegbonmire, Mrs Morenike Obi-Farinde, Mr Enitan Oshodi and Mrs Violet Onyemenam. The Executive Committee of the Association consists of Mr Olugbenga Fabilola (President), Mr Yinka Olasewere (Vice President) and Mrs Adetola Ayanru (General Secretary).
‘ASTEP was established with the vision of:
1. Promoting the practice of succession trust and estate planning
2. Providing a forum to discuss and advance the knowledge in respect of wealth management practice in Nigeria.
3. Educating and training practitioners in succession trust and estate planning matters.
‘In recent times, the Association has embarked on a number of programmes and events to facilitate knowledge and understanding of Estate and Trust Planning and Management. ASTEP has hosted several webinars which include the following: Administration of Charitable Trusts, Succession to Digital Assets, Estate Planning: A Necessity, An Interactive Session with the Lagos Probate Registry, The Capital Market Registrar as a Veritable Agent in Wealth Management and Transfer, The Liability of Corporate Trustees as Executors (Part 1 and 2), ‘Unclaimed Dividends and Dormant Accounts in Respect of Finance Act 2020 e.t.c.’, Anyaru said.