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Estate Planning, LLM

Program at a Glance


Estate Planning, LLM



Total Units



Per Unit

Program Overview

Golden Gate University School of Law is the only law school in the western United States that offers a LLM in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. The program has an unparalleled array of course offerings that reflect both the technical and people-oriented nature of this practice area as well the need for practical experiential learning. Students are taught by practicing attorneys and judges with many opportunities for clerkships and externships with Bay Area law firms and Superior Court Probate Departments. Graduates of this program will be fully capable of starting and running their own practices or sought after as highly trained associates for established firms. This program is designed to be compatible with the State Bar of California Legal Specialist Certification Program.

National & Regional Recognition

Taught by same faculty from Tax LLM program, which has been repeatedly ranked by TaxTalent, a national network of tax employers and tax professionals, among the top 10LLM Tax programs nationwide, and it is the highest ranking of any California Tax LLM program. Tax LLM program is consistently listed in The Recorder’s “Best LLM Programs in California.”

Professional Path

Demand for skilled attorneys in this practice area has grown substantially and is predicted to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Develop professional contacts through substantive courses supplemented with workshops, field work, and externships in taxation, trusts, estates, and elder care. One-on-one career counseling, professional and student organizations, and events with GGU Law’s robust alumni network offer additional networking opportunities.


Applicants may complete their LLM degree in only one semester. Applicants may transfer up to 12 qualifying units from ABA-accredited JD or other LLM programs toward their LLM Degree, allowing them to graduate in as little as one semester. JD students may apply during the final year of their JD Program for early (provisional) admission.

Admission Requirements

All applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible during the admission cycle. To receive consideration by the Admissions Committee, applicants must submit their applications by the posted deadline. Applications may be accepted after the posted deadline and are reviewed on a space-available basis.

A complete LLM program application consists of the following:

  • Completed LLM Application, available at www.lsac.org 
  • Personal Statement;
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.);
  • Character and Fitness Addendum (if applicable);
  • Letters of Recommendation;
  • Law School Transcripts (translated if not in English);
  • Interview (if applicable); and
  • Non-US applicants must submit additional documents, including English proficiency demonstrated with either the TOEFL, IELTS, interview with Program Director, or waived for the exceptions


To earn the LLM in Estate Planning degree, students must complete 24 units. Classes are offered both during the day as well as in the evening to accommodate working professionals. Students may attend full-time and complete the program in as few as two semesters. Alternatively, students may attend part-time. All students must finish the degree requirements within five years of matriculation. LLM students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale each semester.

LLM in Estate Planning students may enroll in the tax and estate planning internship/externship programs and are allowed to apply up to six units of this type of non-classroom experience to their degree program. Students seeking to exceed this amount must receive the express permission of the LLM in Taxation and Estate Planning Program Director.

Dual LLM

Students may earn both an LLM in Taxation and an LLM in Estate Planning by completing only 36 units. To do so, the student must complete the required courses for each degree and the remaining units may be fulfilled from electives.

Certificate in Taxation

This certificate is offered under the auspices of the LLM in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Program. Courses must be taken for credit (i.e., not as an auditor). A student pursuing the Certificate in Taxation who decides to continue in the LLM in Estate Planning Program may apply all credits earned toward the LLM in Estate Planning degree. Students in the LLM Estate Planning degree program may transfer to the Certificate in Estate Planning Program and all qualifying credits will be transferred.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to demonstrate that they understand the legal rules, principles, and theories in the respective field of substantive and procedural law.
  • Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to demonstrate that they can apply the legal rules, principles, and theories in the respective field of substantive and procedural law in order to resolve legal problems and provide advice for prospective clients.
  • Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to demonstrate that they can clearly and effectively communicate in a professional legal setting within the respective field of law.
  • Students graduating from the LLM Program will be able to succeed in the respective field of law.

J-1 Visiting Scholar Program

GGU Law’s J-1 Visiting Scholar Program is intended to provide foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the United States and return home to share their experiences. It is also intended to encourage Americans to participate in educational and cultural programs in other countries.

Application Requirements

In addition to the application requirements listed above we recommend that LLM and SJD applicants from other nations bring with them an extra copy of their official transcripts of undergraduate and law studies as well as any official documents they have received from the courts or bar associations of their home country indicating that they have been admitted to practice law in that country. Students planning to prepare for a bar examination may need a transcript evaluation by an independent agency. This evaluation can be completed after students arrive to begin the LLM or SJD programs.

English Proficiency

Applicants who received their degrees outside the United States must satisfy the Admissions Committee of the proficiency of their English language abilities. An official TOEFL score report sent directly from the Education Testing Service (ETS) to the appropriate program at GGU Law satisfies this requirement. Visit the TOEFL Website.

  • The TOEFL Institution Code for Golden Gate University is 4329
  • The TOEFL Department Code for the School of Law is 03

Applicants must receive a minimum TOEFL score of 580 Paper-based test (PBT), or 92 Internet-based test (iBT) for the LLM (Master of Laws) Programs in U.S. Legal Studies, International Legal Studies, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Taxation, and the SJD (Doctorate) Program in International Legal Studies.

TOEFL Practice Online is a community for test takers preparing for the next generation TOEFL test, or anyone wishing to improve their academic English skills. This is the ONLY website that has official test material from the new TOEFL test that will assess these language skills: Listening, Writing, Reading, Speaking. By becoming a member you can access helpful information, discussion boards, sample responses from a speaking test, and purchase a practice test and practice questions. TOEFL Practice Online Website.

GGU Law accepts International English Language Testing (IELTS) scores. Students need about Level 6.5 to be admitted to the LLM (Master of Laws) Programs and the SJD (Doctorate) Program in International Legal Studies.

Proficiency may be demonstrated with either the TOEFL, IELTS, interview with Program Director, or waived for the exceptions.