July 2007 "Estate Planning & Administration Specialists Certified"
PLANNING FOR WEALTH & SECURITY
By attorneys Jennifer & Jeff Hawkins
ESTATE PLANNING & ADMINISTRATION SPECIALISTS CERTIFIED
Indiana has added estate planning and administration specialists to a growing group of certified legal specialist categories. The Indiana State Bar Association’s Specialty Certification Board (the “EPASCB”) inducted its first class of estate planning and administration specialists at a ceremony at the Westin hotel in Indianapolis on April 27, 2007.
The Indiana Supreme Court’s Rules for Admission to the Bar and the Discipline of Attorneys authorize the Indiana Commission on Continuing Legal Education (the “ICCLE”) to certify qualified organizations as “independent certifying organizations” or “ICOs.” The ICCLE admitted EPASCB as an independent certifying organization at the ICCLE’s meeting on July 12, 2006. The ICCLE had previously admitted the following ICOs:
American Board of Certification (Specialty Areas: Business & Consumer Bankruptcy)
National Board of Trial Advocacy (Specialty Areas: Civil & Criminal Trial Advocacy)
National Elder Law Foundation (Specialty Area: Elder Law)
Family Law Section, Indiana State Bar Association (Specialty Area: Family Law)
The newest certified specialists practice in the “Estate Planning and Administration” field. The Indiana State Bar Association describes this practice specialty on its website as follows:
“‘Estate Planning and Administration’ refers to the practice of law in Indiana dealing with the analysis, planning and recommendations for the conservation and disposition of clients’ assets in accordance with the clients’ expressed desires, including tax effects and other consequences; the drafting and preparation of legal instruments to effectuate the clients’ estate plans, e.g., wills, trusts and other legal documents; and the administration of estates, guardianships and trusts.”
Estate planning and administration certification applicants must complete 45 classroom hours of continuing education (36 hours is normal) in estate planning and administration within 3 years prior to the application. Applicants must also practice estate planning and administration law an average of at least 500 hours per year in each of the most recent 5 calendar years preceding the application and a minimum of 5,000 lifetime hours. The application requires applicants to submit a list of least 5 lawyers or judges to attest to the applicants’ special competence in the estate planning and administrative field. All applicants must maintain specified values of professional liability insurance. Finally, applicants must pass a grueling 6 hour written examination of their knowledge in the estate planning and administrative field. Certified specialists must then comply with similar requirements for recertification every 5 years, except for the examination.
Attorneys need not achieve specialty certification to practice in a certified specialty so long as they do not identify themselves as specialists or experts. Many attorneys have built outstanding expertise in their practice areas without certification. However, the legal specialty certification trend will help prospective clients find qualified attorneys more confidently.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. ALWAYS CONSULT AN ATTORNEY DIRECTLY BEFORE RELYING UPON THIS ARTICLE OR CHANGING AN ESTATE PLAN.
© 2007 by HAWKINS LAW PC, Estate, Trust & Business Attorneys. All rights reserved.