STEP - Certificate

STEP Certificate for Financial Services - Trusts and Estate Planning

STEP Certificate for Financial Services - Trusts and Estate Planning
Credits Awarding Body STEP
Credits Awarded 30
Credits Awarded Level Entry-Level

This course covers the core legal, tax and investment issues that overlap with estate planning, and enhances your ability to adopt a more integrated approach to your client work.

Course purpose

The course explores the needs of trustee clients, incapacitated clients and charity clients, along with up-to-date coverage of will trusts and the transferable nil-rate band. Students will be well versed in the complex legal and taxation factors impacting various types of private clients and be able to deliver holistic investment and financial planning advice to clients, efficiently work with private client professionals and build their business through enhanced professional credibility and a network of contacts.

You will be able to

  • Describe the wide variety of lifetime trust structures commonly found in private client work.
  • Describe the use and appropriateness of different will trusts commonly encountered.
  • Explain the purpose and operation of trusts used in conjunction with life and pension contracts.
  • Calculate the transferable nil rate band of a widowed client so that recommendations about inheritance tax (IHT) planning in a client report are accurate.
  • Identify and describe the factors affecting a client’s residence and domicile and outline the impact these can have on a client’s estate planning needs.
  • Identify and analyse opportunities for a client to mitigate IHT, such as through the use of exemptions and lifetime gifts.
  • Understand and paraphrase the technical legal language used by lawyers in discussing private client matters.
  • Discuss the impact of dying intestate (under English or Scottish law) on the destination of a client’s wealth.
  • Describe the duties and responsibilities of trustees in relation to investment matters.
  • Outline areas to watch for when dealing with the affairs of a client.

Course audience

This course is ideal for professionals working in financial services who have some experience or have undertaken previous study of trusts, tax and estate planning. The course is also suitable for those working in the banking sector dealing with trusts and estates.  

Students of this course typically include:

  • IFAs/Financial planners 
  • Estate/Wealth Planners
  • Investment Managers/Advisers
  • Private Bankers
  • Will Writers
  • Legal Assistants/Paralegals


  • This course will increase your knowledge and understanding of the legal and tax factors of estate planning as well as enhancing your ability to deliver holistic investment and financial planning advice.
  • The course is tailored to cover both the law in England and Wales as well as the law in Scotland.
  • The course material is reviewed and updated twice a year between each sitting to ensure it is in line with the current tax year and any changes implemented by the Finance Act.
  • Module-by-module self-assessment questions to test your knowledge.
  • Revision tools in the form of a specimen examination paper and jurisdiction specific revision quizzes.
  • Access to examiners reports from the last three sittings of the examination.
  • Students are provided with a soft-copy of the course manual which they can use to search for keywords and specific content.
  • Students have the opportunity to submit academic queries to a dedicated programme content team.
  • Successful completion of the course will award students with 30 Entry-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 online 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:

  • access to an online learning platform that contains:
    • bespoke, soft copy course reading
    • self-assessment material
    • distance learning support
  • examination fees.

The course is assessed by way of a five-hour open-book written examination which comprises 25 compulsory multiple-choice questions (each worth 1 mark) and five compulsory 15-mark essay/problem style questions. The questions will be drawn from across the syllabus and candidates must achieve 50% in order to pass the Certificate. Examinations take place online.

Once you have successfully completed this course, you will gain 30 Entry-Level credits towards STEP membership and be awarded the STEP Certificate for Financial Services (Trusts and Estate Planning).

Course Schedules

Course Timetable - May 2021

Course Timetable - November 2021

Please note all courses throughout 2021 are being delivered fully online. Please visit ‘2021 Delivery’ for further information.


There are no formal exemptions available for this course. 

Fees and Booking

To enrol for this course, you must select your preferred course start date, and the corresponding events and location.

Course Start Date Book Course
July 2021 495.00 495.00

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Awarded By



Online Only


4 Months

Entry Criteria





Anne Hills

Anne Hills is a Chartered Financial Planner and an Affiliate member of STEP. She is a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society and a Later Life Accredited Adviser with the Society of Later Life Advisers. 

Dale Ross

Dale is a TEP and is the Director of private client services at Blackadders. Dale has over 20 years of experience in private client work and specialises in executry and trust matters.

Emma Haley

Emma Haley is a solicitor and senior associate with leading private client firm Boodle Hatfield LLP. Emma has many years’ experience in dealing with all aspects of wills, capital taxation and succession planning, as well as UK and offshore trusts.

Course Enquiry Form

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