STEP - Advanced Certificate

STEP Advanced Certificate in Trusts: Law and Practice (Scotland)

STEP Advanced Certificate in Trusts: Law and Practice (Scotland)
Credits Awarding Body STEP
Credits Awarded 30
Credits Awarded Level Diploma-Level

This course aims to provide practitioners with the technical knowledge and practical skills required to deliver advice in Scotland relating to the practice of trusts law.

Course purpose

The course enables you to improve your technical knowledge of the issues arising in trust and estate practice, enhancing your ability to give holistic advice to your clients as a trusted advisor. It increases your understanding of the administration of trusts and estates and enables you to give practical advice on the law and procedures involved.

You will be able to

  • Describe the classification and types of trusts, their uses, what affects their validity, their premature cessation and under what circumstances they can and cannot be altered.
  • Advise on the taxation of each trust type.
  • Explain, advise and comment on the use of the trust in modern tax planning.
  • Understand and interpret the legal complexities and language pertinent to trust deeds.
  • Describe the roles, responsibilities, limitations and liabilities of trustees.
  • Advise on the legal formalities involved in the preparation of a valid will and be alert to the pitfalls.
  • Analyse the content and validity of an existing will, assess its value to a client and advise to what extent it will meet their objectives.
  • Advise on the tax-effective will.
  • Advise on the tax implications and legal considerations of making lifetime gifts and gifts made in contemplation of death.
  • Describe the roles, responsibilities, limitations and liabilities of the executor.
  • Advise on the legal management of the client estate, including probate and intestacy issues, evaluation of any risks involved, deeds of variation, disclaimers and insolvency.
  • Advise on taxation issues relating to the transference of private client wealth, specifically inheritance tax and capital gains tax, and how the burden of taxation can be minimised.
  • Construct and interpret trust and client estate accounts.

Course audience

Students of this course typically include:

  • Legal and trust professionals
  • Support staff and paralegals
  • Accountants and banking professionals
  • Charity specialists
  • Tax advisors
  • Independent financial advisors
  • Executorship administrators


  • Ideal for practitioners looking for professional accreditation, moving into or already working within the trusts and estates profession.
  • A recognised ‘gold-standard’ professional qualification for those working in the industry, globally recognised by employers, regulators, clients and professionals.
  • Ability to grow your own professional network, meeting students from a range of professions providing an opportunity for networking, building relationships and sharing study tips/support as a cohort.
  • Students have the opportunity to submit academic queries to a dedicated programme content team.
  • Blended delivery, including structured workshops designed and taught by experienced practitioners and tutors and access to an online learning platform.
  • Successful completion of the course will award students with 30 Diploma-Level credits towards STEP membership.

Format, Delivery and Assessment

This course is available for study twice annually, with intakes beginning in January and July (and assessments taking place in May and November). The programme is delivered through a combination of online learning and two online workshops and will take four months to complete. We recommend that you spend four to six hours per week on private study for the four months prior to the examination.

Enrolment onto this course will include the following:

  • a bespoke hard copy course manual
  • access to an online learning platform that contains:
    • tailor-made webinars
    • e-learning modules
    • self-assessment material
    • distance learning support
  • attendance at two days of tuition
  • examination fees.

The course is assessed by way of a five-hour open-book written examination which comprises six 20-mark questions, from which candidates must answer five. The questions will be drawn from across the syllabus and candidates must achieve 50% in order to pass the Advanced Certificate. 

Once you have successfully completed this course, you will gain 30 Diploma-Level credits towards STEP membership and be awarded the STEP Advanced Certificate in Trusts: Law and Practice (Scotland).

Course Schedules

Course Timetable - May 2021

Course Timetable - November 2021

Please note all courses until end December 2020 and throughout 2021 are being delivered fully online. Please visit ‘2021 Delivery’ for further information.


There are no formal exemptions available for this course.

Awarded By



Online Only


4 Months

Entry Criteria

60 Entry-Level Credits

Note: Applicants must have obtained 60 STEP Entry-Level credits to enrol onto this course or be a member of STEP. Visit STEP's Qualifications and Membership Framework to understand how to apply.




Euan Fleming

Euan qualified as a solicitor in 2006 and is a Partner at Gilson Gray; he is also a Notary Public and a TEP. 

Laura McDowall

Laura is a partner in the private client division of Blackadders LLP. She started at Blackadders as a trainee solicitor in 2006 and was assumed as a partner in 2013.

Sandy McDonald

Sandy qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Thomson McLintock (now part of KPMG) in the 1970s prior to starting his legal career with Thorntons in 1980 where he specialised in private client work.

Course Enquiry Form

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