National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

Frequently Asked Questions About the AEP® Designation

‚ÄčQUESTION:  Once an application is submitted to the national office how long does it take to complete the process?

ANSWER:  Please allow between 4 and 6 weeks for processing and review of your application. The first review is administrative in nature where all documentation submitted with the application is reviewed and all third party information is verified.  At the conclusion of the administrative review, you will receive a status email. The final step is review by a national committee composed of members of the AEP® Designation Committee who also currently serve as national board members or are NAEPC past presidents. The results of the national review will be communicated to you via email followed by a mailing from the national office.

QUESTION:  What fees are required to apply for the designation?

ANSWER:  At the time of application, one must remit a one-time, non-refundable application fee of $350 along with the first year dues of $175 which can be paid in one check made payable to "NAEPC" or we accept American Express, Discover, VISA and MasterCard. If for any reason an application does not go forward, we will refund the dues payment.

QUESTION:  Do I need to hold an underlying credential?

ANSWER:  Yes, one must be actively engaged in estate planning as an accountant; attorney; insurance and financial planner; philanthropic advisor; or trust officer – holding one or more of the following designations or degrees in active status and good standing: CPA, JD, CFA, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CPWA®, CAP®*,CSPG, CTFA, MSFS, and MST* (*Special requirements must be met – please consult with the national office for details).

QUESTION:  Is there an experience requirement?

ANSWER:  Yes, one must have been actively practicing for a minimum of 5 years devoting at least 1/3 of one’s professional time to estate planning and estate planning activities in one of the disciplines listed above.

QUESTION:  Is there an educational requirement?

ANSWER:  With less than 15 years of experience in estate planning, one is required to successfully complete two graduate courses in estate planning from The American College of Financial Services or from another accredited graduate program as part of a master’s or doctoral degree. 

QUESTION:  Is there a peer review?

ANSWER:  Yes, an applicant must be highly recommended by three unrelated, credentialed professionals in differing disciplines who have worked collaboratively with the applicant as part of the estate planning team.

QUESTION:  Do I have to be a member of a local estate planning council?

ANSWER:  Yes, you must be a member of an affiliated local estate planning council if there is one available to you within 50 miles or 60 minutes driving time.

QUESTION:  Is there a continuing education requirement?

ANSWER:  Yes, an applicant must have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education, 15 of which must have been in estate planning, during the 24 months prior to applying for the designation; active designees must meet this same requirement every two years and certify compliance to the NAEPC on an annual basis. For more details please see the continuing education guidelines.

QUESTION: Is there an ethics component?

ANSWER:  Yes, an applicant must sign a declaration agreeing to continuously abide by the NAEPC Code of Ethics.

QUESTION:  Is there a public complaint policy?

ANSWER:  Yes, there is a complaint procedure and filing form on the NAEPC website.

> Application for those with 5-15 years of experience

> Application for those with 15+ years of experience