How to Become an Estate Planner

Estate Planning & Management

<P>Theres no trick at all in learning how to become an estate planner, except to realize that its a lifetime commitment to a lifestyle, and a paradigm of work, that isnt easily followed.  One cannot, as with so many other professions, discover how to become an estate planner as a home-based internet business. Its a set of services, including legal, accounting and financial advisories, which are aimed at families, companies and individuals looking at estates as investment.  </P> <P>To that end, most estate planners must have degrees in law, in finance or in accountancy.  The object of estate planning is to work with individuals and corporate to formulate, solidify and finally implement tax strategies centered upon the distribution of an estate.   The basics of estate planning, therefore, must include a working knowledge of estate law (what happens, for example, with no estate plan in place), estate tax structure (what the impact is of the gift tax, for instance, on a joint ownership), unified credit and how it assists estate planning, designating proper beneficiaries (the old scenario of the reading of the will where the wrong relative gets the money by default) and methods to gift assets after death.</P> <P>As is readily apparent, this is a commitment to a specialized branch of knowledge and structural planning, and is not assimilated overnight.   The good news is that the basics of estate planning should already be instilled in anyone with an advanced degree in any of the disciplines mentioned already. </P> <P>After ones higher education is complete, one should enroll in a Certified Estate Planner program (aka the CEP), the best of which is the National Institute of CEP.  The course work of the Certified Estate Planner program is rigorous and challenging, and includes the following topics:</P> <UL> <LI>Gifting an estate properly to the right beneficiaries</LI> <LI>The benefits of joint ownership accounts</LI> <LI>The benefits of POD accounts</LI> <LI>Living trusts, revocable or non-revocable</LI> <LI>Wills and how to formulate and write them properly and legally</LI> <LI>Special trust formations, advantages and disadvantages.</LI></UL> <P>Each of these disciplines will involve special course work and comprehensive exams, and are not usually available in long-distance or internet settings except with the presence of a test proctor (the subject matter is far too complex and requires an understanding of estate law that cannot simply be looked up as one passes a drivers test).   </P> <P>Once all the courses in a CEP program are completed, the applicant/potential estate planner is qualified to sit for the CEP exam, a length and complicated examination covering all of the concepts outlined above.  The good news for less-than-perfect test takers is that it can re-taken as often as desired, for a $10 per-re-test fee.   </P> <P>Once one has received any of a number of available estate planner certifications, one can obtain internships or even temporary employment with any number of law and real estate venues and agencies; the estate planner must renew professional education credentials at the rate of 16 credits for every two years.  Typical coursework for post-CEP professionals, depending on the estate planner certifications held, would include advanced estate planning, advanced trust and will revocation training or advanced living wills.    </P> <P>Beyond that, its a simple matter of following the professional ethics of the NICEP and protecting client confidentiality, as in not using any client/corporate information for personal gain, which are considerations that are incumbent upon any profession.   As far as promoting oneself, there are clients in plenty in the field of law or finance in which the fledgling planner currently works, and its simply a matter of re-introducing oneself in the light of the newly certificated position, and allowing the trust in the professional thats already in place to work for the mutual benefit of planner and client.</P> <P>That concludes the basic steps of how to become an estate planner.</P>