The increasing complexity of income tax, wealth transfer tax and property laws, combined with today’s changing economic environment and shifting demographics of population, have created a demand for attorneys with expertise in individual and estate planning. Estate planning attorneys are needed not only to deal with the tax implications of wealth transfers, but also with the related non-tax, investment and business succession planning issues. The Heckerling Graduate Program in Estate Planning, the only full-time law school-based program leading to an LL.M. in estate planning, is ideally positioned to meet this growing need for sophisticated estate planning professionals and offers an unequaled combination of tax and estate planning courses unavailable elsewhere.
Fall Semester – Foundation Courses
The graduate program begins with a traditional 14-week fall semester of course work covering core conceptual topics that provide the foundation for the specialized planning courses offered in the spring semester. The fall semester core courses are similar to those found in traditional graduate tax programs and include partnership tax, corporate tax, individual income tax, wealth transfer tax, and the income taxation of trusts and estates. Students also enroll in a course that provides and introduction to the estate planning and probate process.
Spring Semester – Focused Courses / Heckerling Institute / Estate Plan Preparation
The Graduate Program’s spring semester courses truly set it apart from other graduate programs. It consists of a series of one-week, one credit modular courses on advanced level tax and estate planning topics that integrate or build on the fall’s core courses and coverage of important non-tax topics such as asset protection, elder law, fiduciary administration, and investment planning. The modular format allows students to become fully immersed in the different advanced level planning topic covered each week. This specialized training enables law graduates and attorneys to rapidly acquire a high level of technical expertise.
The spring curriculum also includes a semester-long drafting course that culminates in the preparation of an estate plan under the supervision and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Students are also invited to attend the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, the nation's largest educational conference for estate planning professionals held every January. Here students gain professional development and exposure to estate planning professionals, including attorneys, accountants, trust officers, insurance advisors and wealth management professionals.
Exceptional Faculty & Mentoring
- Nationally recognized experts and faculty in the field of estate planning unmatched in graduate-level legal education
- Select program size allows for personalized attention from staff and strong camaraderie among LL.M. students
- Individual, practical experience preparing and drafting an estate plan working under the direct supervision of a practicing estate planning attorney
- Unparalleled networking opportunities with estate planning professionals at the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning
Flexible Study Options
- Part-time and full-time programs available
- Joint J.D./LL.M. Program and Triple Degree J.D./M.B.A./LL.M. options
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the program full-time or part-time?
Students can enroll full-time or part-time. Currently, full-time students in the LL.M. in estate planning must successfully complete 30 credit hours of require courses with a C+ or better average. The number of credit hours required to obtain the degree may vary from year to year as changes are made in the curriculum. For part-time students, all work must be completed within three years after matriculation.
Are transfer credits accepted?
Transfer of credits for graduate level work from the University of Miami School of Law or from another accredited law school will be allowed only with the approval of the program's director.
Are students permitted to work while studying for the Estate Planning LL.M.?
Candidates engaged in outside employment for more than fifteen hours per week may not, without the approval of the program director, enroll in more than six credit hours per semester.
What distinguishes our estate planning program from traditional graduate tax programs?
The Heckerling Graduate Program in Estate Planning is unique in graduate level education. The breadth and depth of its coverage of both the tax and non-tax aspects of individual and estate planning distinguishes its curriculum from a traditional graduate tax program. While graduate tax programs may offer a cluster of survey courses on estate planning topics, they cannot match the in-depth, practical focus of our spring semester classes. More importantly, the courses offered in graduate tax programs do not examine the essential non-tax issues involved in estate planning, including fiduciary administration, asset protection, life insurance, investment planning, elder law, and probate. Our spring semester classes focus on these essential non-tax issues involved in the estate planning practice.
Why is this a good time to begin a career in estate planning?
Despite the recent economic downturn, the aging of the baby boomer generation has set the stage for the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in history. Estate planning professionals are needed not only to deal with the tax implications of these wealth transfers, but also with the related non-tax, investment and business succession planning issues. The Heckerling Graduate Program is ideally positioned to meet this growing need for trained estate planning professionals.
Does Miami Law provide job search assistance to its estate planning graduate students?
Miami Law’s Career Development Office maintains a full-time advisor to assist LL.M. students with their job searches, including resume review, mock interviews, and individual counseling. Students enjoy variety of opportunities to meet and network with local estate planning attorneys through local bar association meetings, alumni events, and the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning.
Costs & Financial Assistance
A limited number of tuition scholarships are available for full-time students. Information is available from the director of the graduate program. Inquiries about available loan programs may be directed to the Office of Financial Aid, University of Miami School of Law, P.O. Box 248087, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-8087. Prospective students are also invited to visit the Miami Law financial aid website, or contact the office by phone at 305-284-3115 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Estate Planning Fellowships
A limited number of fellowships to support advanced study in the field of estate planning are available to full-time students in the University of Miami School of Law's Heckerling Graduate Program in Estate Planning. Estate Planning Fellows are chosen on the basis of academic merit and the potential for excellence in the field of estate planning. Additional information is available from the director of the graduate program.
Straight From a Student: Why an LL.M. in Estate Planning?
"The LL.M. in Estate Planning not only gave me the ability to transition out of my previous specialty in commercial litigation, but also provided the educational foundation and professional connections to begin my practice with one of the most sophisticated trusts & estates groups. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is contemplating estate planning."
Eun K. Chan - LL.M. 2014
Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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"The Estate Planning LL.M. enabled me to make a contribution to my firm's success right from the outset. I'm certain I would be less valuable to my employer and clients had I not completed the program."
W. Douglas Hoak - LL.M. 2011
Forbush Legal Offices, P.C.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
"In nine months the Graduate Program in Estate Planning taught me concepts and techniques that would have taken me years to learn through continuing legal education course and private practice. It was a great way to transition to a career in estate planning."
J. Allison Archbold - LL.M. 2007
Fergeson, Skipper, Shaw, Keyser, Baron & Tirabassi, P.A.
"The LL.M. program is Estate Planning at the University of Miami School of Law provides a strong foundation in taxation and practical knowledge of the most advanced estate planning techniques in use today. The program provides a unique opportunity to learn from many of the elite estate planning attorneys in Florida and around the nation. The graduate program was an excellent experience and I highly recommend the University of Miami School of Law."
Charles W. Callahan, III - LL.M. 2004
Hill, Ward & Henderson
"The Graduate Program in Estate Planning at UM is mandatory for a successful career in sophisticated estate planning and complex trust and estate administrations."
Ganon J. Studenberg, J.D., LL.M. 2008
"My LL.M. in estate planning is a tremendous asset. It has given me the knowledge and confidence needed to practice in one of the nation's largest estate planning departments."
Marve Ann M. Alaimo - LL.M. 1998
Cummings & Lockwood LLC
Bonita Springs, Florida
"The LL.M. in Estate Planning prepared me well to enter a sophisticated estate planning and administration practice. It provided an opportunity to explore both the substantive and theoretical aspects of federal tax law and the practical applications of that law to the planning techniques I now regularly use with clients. Moreover, the program gave me the opportunity to interact with and learn from the leading national scholars and practitioners who comprise its esteemed faculty."
Alfred J. Stashis, Jr. - LL.M. 2006
Dunwody White & Landon, P.A.
"The Graduate Program in Estate Planning offered at the University of Miami School of Law is unparalleled. Through this program I gained invaluable insights into sophisticated estate planning techniques which have allowed me to hit the ground running in my practice as well as giving me the confidence to work along side some of the best and brightest in the field."
Jason M. Grimes - LL.M. 2006
West Palm Beach, Florida