All About Estates

Estate & Trust Education

I have been thinking a lot about education over the past few weeks. Perhaps it’s because my daughter is graduating from high school later this month, at least that is what she tells me. Education has come up in a different context, several times over the past year or two. More specifically, I have been asked how can one get involved into the exciting and action packed business of Estates & Trusts. Here are some thoughts……

In Canada most law schools offer estate & law courses. Graduates of our esteemed law schools then go on to article and possibly specialize the field of estate and trust law. The various provincially organized law societies also offer colleague led continuing education in this area as well. I have had the pleasure of working with members of the Ontario Bar Association (“OBA”), Estates & Trusts section and I hear it all the time, that this is the most collegial section in all of the OBA.

There are also a number of post-secondary colleges that offer programs specially designed for Law clerks. These programs will almost always include courses in Estate and Trust administration.

Some people, including myself stumble in to this career out of university and get a combination of apprenticeship type training from one of a number of Trust companies. The Canadian Securities Institute (“CSI”) has a long history of providing supplementary education to Bank and Trust company employees. In this industry the standard courses lead to a Member of Trust Institute (“MTI”) designation.

Over the past decade the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (“STEP”) has gained made great inroads into Canada. With the appropriate qualifications, or courses, any estate & Trust practitioner can become a member. The group consists of lawyers, accountants and trust officers across the world. STEP also offers a variety of colleague led continuing education courses. Recetly, the organization introduced a new Diploma program, the STEP Canada Diploma.

If we needed a reminder about how the U.S. is bigger and more entrepreneurial than most countries, I have found this to be the case with Estate & Trust education as well. In North Carolina there is a small University, Campbell University, that offers a 4 year degree program in Estate & Trust administration. To date, this is probably the most fulsome program I have come across. It includes courses not only on the Law of Trusts but also investments, accounting and tax.

Clearly there are a number of ways to gain a Trust education and entry point into the business.

Ps. There is a related point to Trust education. The fact that someone could take a 4 year course on trust administration makes me wonder how so many people think they can easily be a Trustee with little or no previous experience.

About Paul Fensom
Scotiatrust offers a full range of estate, trust and philanthropic advisory services designed to meet a client’s personal objectives and designed to evolve across a variety of life stages and financial events. Email: