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About the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates


This qualification is a STEP-approved programme of study, and is not accredited by NZQA. This course has particular relevance to people whose working life touches on, or who are involved with trusts and estates:

  • General practitioner lawyers and legal executives

  • Accountants

  • Insurance and investment advisors

  • Trust specialists and trustee company employees

  • Law and business Students STEP membership


Each advanced certificate provides you with credits towards STEP membership, enabling you to become either a STEP Affiliate or Technician.


Completion of the diploma (all four certificates) will provide 120 credits towards membership of STEP, which when combined with prior qualifications and work experience, allows you to become a full member of STEP and use the coveted designation TEP (Trusts and Estates Practitioner).

For further details on how to gain Entry Level Credits via exam, accreditation and previous experience, see STEP’s qualifications and membership framework 

Course overview

The STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates is a practical and hands-on course designed and delivered by leading New Zealand trust and estate practitioners.

Entry Requirements 

Applicants for a STEP Advanced Certificate are required to gain 60 entry level credits prior to enrolling on the course. 60 Entry Level Credits gives an applicant Affiliate Membership of STEP. 

Entry credits can be gained through:

  • Relevant prior qualification - up to 30 Entry Level Credits (max)

  • Relevant experience - Up to 30 Entry Level Credits (max)

To apply for Affiliate Membership click here


Completing the diploma

The diploma is made up of four advanced certificates delivered via a combination of online modules, distance learning and online weekend workshops. There is also the option to complete individual advanced certificates and gain a Certificate of Proficiency.


When you complete all four advanced certificates you will be awarded the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates.


You will then be eligible for membership of STEP, subject to practical experience requirements.

Course details

Delivery mode: Online and distance learning

Student learning time: 110 hours comprising 12 hours approximately of remote class contact  and 98 hours independent study (5 -7 hours independent study per week)

Assessment structure: 100% examination

Advanced certificates

Each advanced certificate takes 14 weeks to complete and ends with a take-home exam. You can complete the four certificates in any order.

1. Creation of Trusts certificate

The certificate covers:

  • The trust concept (including fundamental trust concepts), the three certainties, the transfer of assets into trusts and applicable statutory and case law requirements.

  • The background and historical use and development of discretionary and fixed trusts in New Zealand including their use to avoid estate duty and income tax, the specific issues this gave rise to with the legal drafting of trusts, consideration of some of the diverse legislation that has promoted, shaped and limited trusts and beneficial interests, and an overview of the conceptual changes the Trusts Act 2019 will bring to New Zealand trusts.

  • A consideration of the ways in which trusts may be rendered ineffective or “attacked” under both legislation such as the Property (Relationships) Act, Property Law Act 2007 and Insolvency Act 2006 and under case law.

  • The trust instrument (an examination of typical clauses in a modern discretionary family trust deed).

  • A brief introduction to other trusts (charitable trusts, superannuation schemes and unit trusts, Maori trusts, resulting and constructive trusts).

2. Administration of Trusts certificate

The certificate examines trustees’ duties and liabilities, including making distributions, investing and delegating, and exercising trust powers improperly, and gives practical guidance on the discharge of those duties and liabilities.

3. Administration of Estates certificate

The administration of estates certificate assists executors and administrators in the core aspects of estate administration, including obtaining probate or letters of administration, addressing cross-border issues, dealing with creditors, potential claimants and beneficiaries, the transmission of assets and dealing with insolvent estates.

4. Taxation and Accounting for Trusts and Estates certificate

The taxation and accounting certificate provides an understanding of what is required to prepare and understand financial statements and relevant tax issues, including the application of the settlor regime, cross-border issues and tax avoidance.


Advanced Certificate 4: Tax & Accounting for Trusts & Estates

Start date: Saturday 3rd August 2024

Weekend Workshop 1: Saturday 31st August & Sunday 1st September 2024

Weekend Workshop 2: Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th October 2024

Examination dates: Released Friday 18th October (4pm), Due Friday 1st November 2024 (4pm)


Applications close Monday 29 July 2024- APPLY NOW ​

Cost and how to apply

2024 advanced certificate cost $2,350 plus GST.


Please contact Megan Llewellyn at STEP Education NZ directly if you have questions or would like to enrol in any of these certificates:

Phone: +64 21 189 5546

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