Program Overview

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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 traditional graduate tax programs.

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. Finally, the Heckerling Graduate Program provides students with hands-on practical experience through preparing and drafting an estate plan under the direct supervision of an experienced estate planning attorney.

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, Modular Courses-Heckerling Institute-Estate Plan Preparation

The Graduate Program’s spring semester courses truly set it apart from other graduate programs. The spring semester consists of a series of one-week, one credit modular courses that integrate or build on the core courses. The modular format allows students to become fully immersed in the different advanced level planning topic covered each week.

In addition, the format makes it possible to attract a faculty of nationally recognized estate planning experts who visit the school for the one-week period of their course. In addition to advanced-level tax planning topics, the spring semester includes coverage of important non-tax topics such as asset protection, elder law, fiduciary administration, and investment planning. 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.


Alfred J. Stashis, Jr. - LL.M. 2006"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.
Naples, Florida


Established Attorneys Redirect Careers with LL.M. in Estate Planning