AEP Designation

The Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation is a graduate level specialization in estate planning, obtained in addition to already recognized professional credentials within the various disciplines of estate planning.  It is awarded by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) to recognize estate planning professionals who meet stringent requirements of experience, knowledge, education, and professional reputation and character.  As part of NAEPC’s advocacy program, active designation holders will be given priority in requests for referrals within each professional discipline that result from NAEPC promotion and advertising campaigns.  In addition, NAEPC promotion and advertising will prominently feature the AEP® designation and the advantages of working with a professional who holds this special accreditation.

There are two (2) ways to obtain an AEP® deisgnation:  individual applicant or council-nominated applicant.  For more information on individual applicant requirements click here.

Qualifications and Requirements for Council-Nominated Applicants Only

An AEP® applicant nominated by his or her local estate planning council must meet ALL of the following requirements as established by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils:

Credential requirement.  To be eligible to be considered for the AEP® designation, the applicant must provide documentation of being currently licensed to practice law as an Attorney (JD), practice as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or of being currently designated as a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), or Certified Trust & Financial Advisor (CTFA), in any jurisdiction of the United States of America.

Professional discipline engaged in estate planning requirement.  The applicant must be presently and significantly engaged in “estate planning activities.”  Estate planning encompasses the accumulation, conservation, preservation, and transfer of an estate through planning and implementation of an estate plan.  The overall purpose of the estate planning process is to develop a plan that will maintain the financial security of individuals and their families.  For a list of estate planning activities, click here.   

Experience requirement.  A minimum of fifteen (15) years of experience engaged in estate planning and estate planning activities is required in one or more of the professional disciplines described above to be eligible for a council nomination.

Professional reputation and character requirement. First, an applicant must continuously be in good standing with the applicant’s respective professional organization and/or license authority (e.g., State Bar Association for attorneys, etc.). Second, an applicant for the AEP® designation who has been the subject of a disciplinary action by (1) a governing board, commission or other entity for any professional designation or certification held by the applicant; (2) any state or federal regulatory authority; or (3) any court of law, for an act or omission that constitutes misconduct, whether ethical, civil or criminal, may not be awarded the AEP® designation until a minimum of five (5) years has elapsed following the resolution of the misconduct constituting the grounds for discipline. If the AEP® Committee deems the misconduct to have been particularly egregious, it may require the elapse of a longer period of time than five (5) years. The Committee may, in its sole discretion, treat the presence of any past disciplinary action, no matter how slight, as sufficient grounds to deny an application for the AEP® designation.

Commitment to NAEPC Code of Ethics requirement.  The applicant must sign a declaration statement to continuously abide by the NAEPC Code of Ethics.  View here.  

Dedicated to team concept requirement.  The applicant must acknowledge a commitment to the team concept of estate planning by signing a declaration statement (attached to application). Discover the NAEPC teaming concept by reading this White Paper (High-Performance Teaming & Professional Collaboration:  A Multi-Disciplinary Team Approach to Estate Planning).  

Continuing education requirement.  The applicant must satisfy a minimum of thirty (30) hours of continuing education during the prior twenty-four (24) months, of which at least fifteen (15) hours MUST have been in estate planning.  Applicants may be requested to produce documentation to substantiate any activity claimed.

Annual dues and re-certification requirement.  Active designation holders are required to continuously maintain annual membership in order to use the AEP® designation.  (Annual AEP® membership dues are currently $150.00.)  Failure to maintain annual membership or failure to meet or comply with the re-certification requirements described below will result in the revocation of the AEP® designation, until such time as the requirements are met.  On an annual basis, active designation holders must certify or re-certify that: (1)  they are continuously engaged in estate planning activities in their professional discipline; (2)  they are in good standing with their respective professional organizations and/or license authorities and are not subject to any disciplinary misconduct or investigation; (3)  they maintain active membership in an affiliated local or regional estate planning council where such membership is available; otherwise they must be an individual At-Large member of the NAEPC and maintain that membership; (4)  they have abided by and will continue to abide by the NAEPC Code of Ethics; (5)  they are dedicated to the team concept of estate planning; and (6)  they have currently satisfied the continuing education requirements of their designated professional discipline and have maintained a minimum of thirty (30) hours of continuing education during the prior two (2) years, of which at least fifteen (15) hours were in estate planning.

Annual audit of certification requirements.  On an annual basis, the AEP® Committee will determine, with the approval of the NAEPC Board of Directors, the percentage of active designation holders to be audited. If an AEP® is chosen for audit, a letter from the Chairperson of the Audit Committee will be sent via Certified Mail asking for verification that the designation holder is in good standing with his or her respective professional organization and/or licensing authority; current with the continuing education requirements of thirty (30) hours, fifteen (15) of which must be in estate planning, for the prior two (2) calendar years; and verification of membership from the appropriate affiliated local estate planning council of which the AEP® is a member.

To download the AEP® Council-Nominated Application, click here.  To find out more information, please contact any CAEC Board Member.