The Graduate Tax Program’s Estate Planning Certificate is available in online and residential formats (or a combination of both formats).  All of the courses in the Estate Planning Certificate are taught by the same leading tax and estate planning experts who teach in the Graduate Tax Program.

Looking to start your application to the Estate Planning Certificate?



Courses are available both online, and residentially.

Yes! We welcome students to take classes residentially if their schedules allow.  No residential courses are offered during the summer sessions.

Students should have demonstrated prior coursework or professional experience that matches the content of our Federal Income Tax I and II classes. Students with professional experience in this area or with prior course work that covers the same material can begin taking classes that count towards the Certificate immediately. Students without this previous course work or experience must complete our Federal Income Tax I and II classes with a grade of B or better before enrolling in Certificate courses.  The credits earned through completing the Federal Income Tax I and II classes WILL NOT count towards the 12 credits required for the Certificate.

Students must complete all three of the required courses, and any three of the listed electives to earn the certificate.

Required Courses

2 credits

Principle issues of estate and gift taxation. Topics include the definition of taxable gifts and exclusions and deductions; determination of the taxable estate of a decedent including problems with lifetime transfers; valuation issues; deductions from the taxable estate with special emphasis on property passing to a spouse; and transfers with retained interests. Reference is made throughout to planning issues relating to estate and gift taxation and is designed to give both a requisite background for those intending additional study of estate planning and a comfortable familiarity with the subject for those going on to other tax fields.

FALL 2017: LAW TX 904 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 6th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Wed 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 2 Harry S. Miller
FALL 2017: LAW TX 904 OL , Sep 5th to Dec 7th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
ARR TBD TBD 2 Harry S. Miller

2 credits

This course will examine in depth the theoretical and practical aspects of a variety of estate planning strategies currently being used in the real world. The primary focus of the course will be on federal income, estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer tax issues which arise in the estate planning context, although other planning issues, including professional ethics, will also be considered. The course will use case studies of specific tax driven planning strategies, including grantor trusts, marital deduction trusts, post-mortem planning, and planning for incapacity. Prerequisite or corequisite: Federal Income Taxation I and Estate and Gift Tax

FALL 2017: LAW TX 935 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 5th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 6:30 pm 8:30 pm 2 Melissa LangaRuth Mattson
FALL 2017: LAW TX 935 OL , Sep 5th to Dec 11th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
ARR TBD TBD 2 Melissa LangaRuth Mattson

2 credits

Income tax consequences arising upon the death of a decedent and special income tax treatments of estates, trusts, and fiduciaries. Topics include determination of gross income and allocation between the decedent and the estate or trust; special problems with income in respect of a decedent; separate and conduit taxation of estates and trusts; allocation of tax attributes between an estate or trust and its beneficiaries; grantor trust rules, and other topics. Prerequisite: Federal Income Taxation I.

Elective Courses

2 credits

Understanding the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Exploring the operation of a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy in connection with the admission of a loved one to a nursing home. A walk through the Federal and corresponding Massachusetts Medicaid Regulations as they relate to: understanding what is a countable and non countable asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes: exploring the five year look back period versus the period of ineligibility resulting from disqualifying transfers along with related exceptions to these rules; discuss real estate as a countable and non countable asset including the different treatment of a primary residence, vacation home and rental properties along with ways to convert these countable assets to non countable assets; last minute planning techniques with annuities and personal care contracts; understanding the drafting and operation of Medicaid Irrevocable Trusts including a complete analysis of the Income, Gift and Estate Tax consequences of using these trusts from Grantor Trust rules to step up in basis, use of life estates along with real life fact patterns that explain the planning opportunities and related pitfalls to be avoided.

2 credits

Estate Planning focuses on the process by which individuals make comprehensive arrangements for their property and personal needs which will remain in effect during disability and after death. Topics covered will include a review of intestacy, wills, and trusts principles, the use of non-probate techniques, disability planning for property and health care needs, planning for the physical aspects of death, practical concerns such as obtaining clients, interviewing clients, selecting fiduciaries, setting fees, and maintaining professional responsibility, will contest prevention, planning for clients with a wide variety of special circumstances, and document execution, review, and preservation. The grade is based on approximately eight assignments and projects throughout the semester. There is no final exam. [Note that Gratuitous Transfer Taxation is not a pre- or co-requisite for this class.]

2 credits

This course picks up the estate planning course (TX 935) leaves off. We will survey several "cutting edge" estate planning techniques-techniques that permit the transfer of large amounts of wealth at little or no gift tax or estate tax cost. We will zero in on valuation rules that apply to the estate tax and gift tax; we will discuss what to look for in appraisals; we will examine, in depth, the current status of planning involving family partnerships and LLCs; we will examine the rules that apply to GRATs, installment sales to "defective" grantor trusts, and how to structure transfers using these techniques; we will review the biases built into the actuarial valuation rules that the Internal Revenue Service requires us to apply; we will examine the effects of the UPC, the Uniform Trust Code, and will consider "decanting"; we will discuss some of the psychological aspects of estate planning including issues presented by parents' fears of making their children too wealthy too soon; and we will discuss trust design and the choice of trustees. There is no final exam but students will be required to write a 10 -- 15 page term paper. In addition there will be several quizzes throughout the semester. Prerequisite: Estate Planning and Estate and Gift Tax Recommended: Taxation of Trusts and Fiduciaries

2 credits

The course will cover international estate planning from two perspectives: (1) U.S. citizens residing outside of the U.S. or owning assets located outside of the U.S.; and (2) foreign citizens residing in the U.S. or transferring assets in or to the U.S. U.S. gift and estate tax laws applicable to both situations will be studied in depth in a practice-oriented manner. Planning techniques and vehicles utilized in international estate planning will be explored, in particular trusts and the special U.S. income tax rules applicable to foreign trusts with U.S. beneficiaries and off-shore U.S.-grantor trusts. The impact of non-U.S. transfer taxes and tax treaties will be considered, as well as non-tax foreign laws impacting on international estate planning. The course will also cover the U.S. tax and estate planning issues applicable to "mixed marriages" where one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other is a non-U.S. citizen, and multi-jurisdiction situations of gifts or bequests from non-U.S. donors or decedents to U.S. beneficiaries. Finally, the course will also consider cultural and ethical issues peculiar to the area of international estate planning. Prerequisite or corequisite: Estate and Gift Tax, Estate Planning

2 credits

Income tax considerations relating to transfers of assets and liabilities to a corporation (during incorporation and otherwise), non-liquidating distributions, stock redemptions, related party stock purchases and corporate liquidations. Includes an overview of the treatment of a corporate shareholder versus other shareholders. Prerequisite or corequisite: Federal Income Taxation I and II

FALL 2017: LAW TX 933 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 6th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Wed 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 2 Wayne E. SmithWayne E. Smith
FALL 2017: LAW TX 933 OL , Sep 5th to Dec 11th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
ARR TBD TBD 2 Wayne E. Smith

2 credits

The federal income tax laws significantly affect the way a business venture proceeds through the various stages of its life cycle. This course will explore the federal income tax aspects of: i) choosing the proper form of entity (typically, C corporation, S corporation or LLC) to carry on a business, ii) forming the entity that will carry on the business and issuing equity interests (and rights to acquire equity interests) in the entity to founders and other service providers, iii)financing the entity with debt and equity, iv) reporting the results of the entity's operations, v) purchasing and leasing assets, vi) buying out owners, vii) selling the business. Co- and prerequisites: Federal Income Taxation I, Federal Income Taxation II, Introduction to Corporate Tax and Partnership Tax I.

2 credits

Presents an overview of subchapter K and the federal income tax treatment of partnerships and other entities, such as limited liability companies;. Topics include tax classification of a partnership versus a corporation or trust; considerations in choice of entity;basic partnership accounting and capital accounts, partnership formation and acquisition of partnership interests for property or services; determination of basis;basic rules allocations of income and loss ; taxation of normal partnership operations; distributions of cash and property; transactions between partners and partnership, including sales of partnership interests. Prerequisite or corequisite: Federal Income Taxation I and II, Introduction to Corporate Tax

FALL 2017: LAW TX 930 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 5th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 2 David H. HalpertTravis L.L. Blais
FALL 2017: LAW TX 930 OL , Sep 5th to Dec 11th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
ARR TBD TBD 2 David H. HalpertTravis L.L. Blais

2 credits

A comprehensive course on how business owners can buy and sell businesses with a minimum tax cost and maximum after-tax return. The strategies for selling a business are often implemented from the moment the business entity is originally formed. The course will examine the crucial strategies, from choice of entity, to conducting ongoing operations, to the correct way to change or restructure existing C corporations, S corporations and other entities. The course will also examine the best way to structure a sale of a particular business, based on both the form of legal entity and on the specific facts in a case. For example, the course will compare a sale of stock to a sale of assets; will compare a sale for cash to a tax free transaction or part-cash, part-stock transaction; and compare the differences between a sale with immediate payment versus a possible installment sale. Prerequisites: Federal Income Taxation I and Federal Income Taxation II.

2 credits

Charitable gift planning has long been a crucial component in wealth management and estate planning. It remains an important factor in the "tool box" of estate and tax professionals. While humanitarian commitments remain the primary motivating force behind private philanthropy, the tax benefits associated with charitable strategies and techniques have assumed greater importance as our system of taxation has grown increasingly complex. This course will examine the federal tax implications (income tax, gift tax, estate and generation skipping transfer tax, and capital gains tax) of key strategies associated with charitable gift planning for incorporation into the overall estate plan. Topics covered will include types of charitable entities, requirements of a charitable gift, charitable alternatives (private foundations, donor advised funds and supporting organizations), split interest transfers (charitable remainder and lead trusts), bargain sales, gifts of complex assets, and testamentary transfers. Case studies will be used to illustrate optimal intervivos and testamentary planning for creating flexibility while avoiding pitfalls. None. Recommended: Federal Income Taxation I, Federal Income Taxation II and Estate and Gift Taxation.

FALL 2017: LAW TX 950 A1 , Sep 11th to Dec 11th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Mon 4:20 pm 6:20 pm 2 Jeremiah W. Doyle
FALL 2017: LAW TX 950 OL , Sep 5th to Dec 12th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
ARR TBD TBD 2 Jeremiah W. Doyle


Students are eligible to apply for entry into the Certificate program for the fall, spring and summer semesters. Residential entry is only allowed in the fall and spring semester.

Students enrolled in the the program are not currently eligible for merit-based financial aid.  Certificate candidates are also not eligible to apply for federal loans in order to finance their studies.

While the Graduate Tax Program (which confers the LLM in Taxation) requires applicants to have a first degree in law, or its equivalent, the Estate Planning Certificate is open to non-lawyers. All other Graduate Tax Program application requirements remain in place for Certificate applicants. A strong performance in the Certificate program will be considered for any applicants who wish to be considered for the LLM in Taxation degree.

Tuition and Fees

As a part-time program, students are charged tuition on a per credit basis each semester. The per credit cost is the same as the Graduate Tax Program, and will soon be listed here.


The Estate Planning Certificate has received American Bar Association acquiescence.

Students may apply for acceptance into the Tax LLM degree program either during or following completion of the Estate Planning Certificate.  All credits earned as part of the Estate Planning Certificate can be applied as advanced standing credits to the 24 credits required for completion of the Tax LLM degree.

Students must complete the Certificate courses over a maximum of nine semesters, including summer terms.  This equates to approximately 3 calendar years.

Credits earned during the Certificate are eligible for transfer to the Tax LLM degree within 4 years from the start of the Estate Planning Certificate.