National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

Estate Law Specialist Program

The Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc., an ABA-accredited, attorney-run subsidiary of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils in Cleveland, Ohio, administers the only national, board certification of an attorney as an Estate Planning Law Specialist (EPLS). We believe that specialization is the future of practicing law and, as specialization increases, it will benefit lawyers and the public.

Attorneys who become Board-certified under this program demonstrate a high level of professionalism and commitment to the concept of specialization. We believe that as attorney specialization increases, it will benefit not only lawyers but the clients they serve. This program is currently the only program, other than certain state bar association programs which are only for residents of their particular states, to Board-certify attorneys as Estate Planning Law Specialists. The Estate Law Specialst Board, Inc., was initially accredited by the ABA in 1996 and has successfully attained reaccrediation every five years since that time. The most recent reaccreditation was awarded to the ELSB, Inc., on August 11, 2014.

To obtain Board-certified status, an attorney must meet the following requirements:

  • Five or more years as an estate planning attorney during which at least 1/3 of the attorney’s practice is devoted to estate planning at an enhanced level of skill and expertise
  • 12 or more hours of continuing legal education in estate planning topics earned per year for the three years preceding filing of the application
  • Verification of professional liability insurance coverage at a minimum of $1,000,000 per claim
  • Recommendations from at least five colleagues who are not related to or within the same firm as the applicant who can attest to the applicant's reputation for involvement in estate planning in a professional manner and who can provide specific information about the applicant's competence and qualifications to practice in the field at the enhanced level of skill and expertise required for this designation
  • Passing a comprehensive, national examination designed for actively practicing estate planning attorneys

See complete details about standards for certification.

Many states permit lawyers to hold themselves out as specialists if their certification is awarded by an ABA-accredited program. Each lawyer must consult the rules in his or her own state to determine any restrictions to the use of the EPLS certification. Also, you may wish to consult the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Find an Estate Planning Law Specialist near you.

Upcoming Live Review Course & Proctored Exam

WealthCounsel 2016 Symposium, October 18-21, 2016, Reston, Virginia

In partnership with WealthCounsel, the Estate Law Specialist Board is excited to offer an in-person review course and proctored Estate Planning Law Specialist exam on Tuesday, October 18th during the 2016 Symposium. Once registered for the proctored exam, candidates will be contacted by the Estate Law Specialist Board with the application for certification, which must be completed and returned to the Estate Law Specialist Board in advance of the exam. Exam results will be communicated within thirty (30) days.

This collaborative conference is full of interactive and practical learning, networking with peers, and valuable guidance on how to advance your practice. Now, prepare yourself for an even more memorable experience at Symposium 2016 with 3½ days of learning and networking where you can earn up to 20 hours of CLE:

You'll learn. You'll network. You'll discover new ways of thinking that can help you elevate your practice. You'll be glad you made the decision to be in Reston for a new and exciting Symposium experience.


2016 Board Roster with Officers


R. Mark Kirkpatrick, Esq., LL.M. (taxation), EPLS, AEP®
Coale Dukes Kirkpatrick & Crowley PC
2610-B Dauphin Street, Suite 101
Mobile, AL 36606


Eido M. Walny, Attorney, EPLS, AEP®
Walny Legal Group, LLC
751 N. Jefferson Street, George Watts Building
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Caryn B. Keppler, JD, EPLS, AEP®, TEP
Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP 
521 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10175


C. Michael Adams, Jr., CPA, JD, LL.M., EPLS, AEP®

Williams McDaniel, PLLC

717 S. White Station Road

Memphis, TN 38117


R. D. “Don” Estes, BA, LL.B.. EPLS, AEP®

Estes Law Firm, P.A.

4741 Fremont Avenue South

Minneapolis, MN 55419-5206

Jason E. Havens, JD, LL.M. (EP), LL.M. (Int'l Tax), BCS, EPLS, AEP®, TEP
Holland & Knight LLP
50 N. Laura Street, Suite 3900, Jacksonville, FL 32202
315 S. Calhoun Street, Suite 600, Tallahassee, FL 32301

Tassma A. Powers, JD, CTFA, EPLS, AEP®

Schwartz Bon Walker & Studer, LLC

141 S. Center, Suite 500

Casper, WY 82601


Michael D. Stice, Attorney, EPLS, AEP®
Holmes & Stice, PLC
2060 Ft. Henry Drive #200, Sun Trust Bank Bldg.
Kingsport, TN 37664

Alexander M. Taylor, Attorney, EPLS, AEP®
Kennerly Montgomery & Finley, PC
550 W. Main Street, Suite 400
Knoxsville, TN 37902-2515

Follow Us: LinkedIn YouTube Mailing List

Find an

Find an

Robert G. Alexander 
Webinar Series

Yearly Subscription Available!

‚ÄčFor Accredited Estate Planners® Only:

Annual Renewal & Recertification

Log in HERE to access AEP only benefits, including

Frequently Asked Questions for estate planners and councils

Estate Planning Hall of Fame®