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School of Law

Certificate in Estate Planning Requirements and Curriculum

To receive a Certificate in Estate Planning, students will be required to complete 12 credit hours of prescribed coursework and earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.000 for courses taken in the certificate program.  Except for advanced credit toward the certificate, the coursework must be completed after a student has received a J.D. or equivalent degree.  Certificate requirements must be completed within two years of enrolling in the certificate program. 

Required

The program's curriculum consists of the following required courses:

 

  • Estate and Gift Taxation (3)

    Basic principles of federal estate and gift taxation, including computation of the taxable estate, inter vivos transfers, transfers in contemplation of death, transfers with retained interests or powers, joint interests, life insurance proceeds, property subject to powers of appointment, the marital deduction, and the unified credit.

  • Income Taxation of Estates and Trusts (3)

    Federal income taxation of decedents' estates, simple and complex trusts, charitable trusts and grantor trusts.  Course covers the preparation of fiduciary income tax returns with emphasis on unique tax issues such as income in respect of a decedent, distributable net income and fiduciary accounting.
  • Estate Planning (3) or Estate Planning Workshop (3)

    (GTP Estate Planning in the evening division) Methods of disposing of estates by will, life insurance, inter vivos arrangements, and consideration of resulting tax and administrative problems. Course also focuses on gathering and analyzing facts in the planning and drafting of trusts, wills, and related documents. Additional prerequisite: Estate and Gift Taxation.

     

    (JD Estate Planning Workshop in the day division) Methods of disposing of estates by will, life insurance, inter vivos arrangements and consideration of resulting tax and administrative problems. The course also focuses on gathering and analyzing facts in the planning and drafting of trusts, wills, and related documents.

Electives

In addition, students would be required to take one or more of the following electives to meet the 12 - credit certificate requirement:

 

  • Corporate Taxation (3)

    Federal income taxation of corporations and their shareholders with emphasis on the formation of the corporation, capital structure, operational alternatives, distributions, partial and complete liquidations, personal holding companies, and the accumulated earnings tax. Formation, operation, and liquidation of S-corporations also are covered.

  • Elder Law (3)

    An important subset of estate planning involves an area of law that has been dubbed “elder law.”  Families confront a myriad of financial challenges when a loved one needs long term care.  Students will be taken through case studies and a group project to expose them to the planning options that exist when advising families on protecting their life’s savings from the costs of care. 

    This course covers select laws and pertinent cases dealing with Medicaid, Medicare, guardianship, Social Security programs, investments, trusts, insurances, and taxation of income, gifts and estates.  Legal documents typically indicated for elder law matters are also reviewed.

  • Fundamentals of Federal Income Taxation II (3)

    Continuation of basic tax concepts including cash and accrual methods, capital gains and losses, 1231 transactions, recpature, original issue discount and imputed interest, below-market loans, installment sales, like kind exchanges, involuntary conversions, the at-risk rules, and passive loss rules.

     

  • Partnership Taxation (3)

    Problems encountered in the formation, operation, and liquidation of a partnership including the acquisition of partnership interests, compensation of the service partner, the treatment of partnership distributions, and problems associated with the disposition of partnership interests or property by sale.

  • Planning for Families and Seniors (3)

    Planning for long-term family security: providing support for minors and other dependents; preparing for retirement; and coping with old age, disability, and death. The course will focus on families with modest assets (those not subject to estate tax). Topics will include the uses of trusts and trust alternatives; inter vivos transfers; wills; life insurance; employee benefits and social security; guardianships and durable powers of attorney; health care decision-making; housing for the elderly (retirement communities, nursing homes, and in-community care); and ethical issues inherent in serving families. Students will work in small groups to create a plan for a hypothetical family and to draft the necessary instruments for that family. In addition, each student will prepare a short position paper on one of the covered topics.

  • Qualified Pension and Profit-sharing Plans (3)

    An introduction to pension and profit-sharing law with particular emphasis on Title 2 (IRS) of ERISA. The course is geared toward understanding all of the pension and profit-sharing rules that must be met for plan qualification, with emphasis on qualified plan planning for both incorporated and unincorporated forms of business.
  • S-Corporations (1)

    Federal income taxation of S-corporations and their shareholders with emphasis on the creation of the S-corporation, capital structure, operational alternatives, distributions, and liquidations.

  • Tax Exempt Organizations (2)

    Analysis of provisions relating to the qualification for exemption from federal income tax, with emphasis on section 501(c)(3) organizations, private foundations, and the treatment of unrelated business income.
Students who have not taken Trusts and Estates and/or Federal Income Taxation while in their J.D. program will be required to take one or both courses in the certificate program (students may substitute Fundamentals of Federal Income Tax Ifor Federal Income Taxation).   Credits and grades for such courses taken in the certificate program will not count towards the 12-credit certificate requirement or the GPA requirement, respectively.