National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

Our Mission 

To advance a reliable national certification of an enhanced level of competency in estate planning for consumers, lawyers, and referral sources. Requisite skills are obtained through experience, rigorous testing, peer review, and continuing legal education.

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 February 17, 2020.

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 40% of the attorney’s practice is devoted to estate planning at an enhanced level of skill and expertise
  • 36 or more hours of continuing legal education in estate planning topics earned during 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, a majority of whom must have known the applicant for a minimum of 3 years, 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.