National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

Frequently Asked Questions About the 

Estate Planning Law Specialist (EPLS) Certification

Administered by the Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc. (ELSB) – Accredited by The American Bar Association


Q1:  I’m interested in earning the EPLS certification, what’s the first thing I need to do? A: Many states permit lawyers to hold themselves out as specialists if their certification is awarded by an ABA-accredited program; however, it is important to consult the rules in your own state to determine any restrictions to the use of the EPLS certification You may also wish to consult the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Q2:  What’s the next step?  A: You will need to complete and submit the EPLS certification application with payment and supporting documentation including names of professional references. The application is available on the NAEPC website or by calling the national office at 1-866-226-2224. For complete details, please review the standards for certification.

Q3:  Is there an experience requirement? A: Yes, you must have a minimum of 5 years actively practicing law devoting at least 40% of your professional time to estate planning.

Q4:  Is there a continuing education requirement? A: Yes, you must earn a minimum of 36 hours of CLE in estate planning topics preceding the filing of the certification application—15 hours must be earned annually once you are certified.

Q5: Am I required to hold professional liability insurance?  A: Yes, you must hold a minimum coverage of $1,000,000 per claim of professional liability insurance and verify this information as an attachment to your application.

Q6:  Is there a peer review?  A: Yes, you must provide the names and contact information for 8 colleagues, a majority of whom have known you for at least 3 years; who are not related or within the same firm; and who will attest to your competence, reputation, and character. A minimum of 5 such individuals must provide favorable recommendations to complete the application.

Q7:  What fees are required to apply for the certification?  A: The application fee is $600 payable by check or credit card; however, if you are a member of an NAEPC-affiliated local estate planning council the fee is reduced to $500.

Q8:  Once an application has been submitted to the national office, how long does it take to complete the process?  A: Please allow 6—8 weeks for processing, review, and result of “call for references.” The completed application will then be reviewed by a national review committee.

Q9:  Is there a national examination?  A: Yes, once your application has been approved, you will be provided instructions on how to take the 80-question multiple choice examination which can be taken online or in hardcopy—in either format the examination must be proctored by a licensed attorney who is not with your same firm or company. A list of reference materials is posted on the website as well as access to an on-demand review course available for an additional fee. Please allow 4 weeks for exam results.

Q10:  Why should I become an Estate Planning Law Specialist?  A: The EPLS certification is currently the only national legal specialization in estate planning, other than certain state bar association programs which are only for residents of their particular states. Attorneys who become board certified under this program demonstrate a high level of professionalism and commitment to the concept of specialization.