Top 5 LLM Programs in Elder Law for 2021

An LLM in estate planning and elder law is a Master of Laws degree that offers attorneys working in the area of estate planning and wills to refine their knowledge and have the skills to advocate for the elderly. Attorneys who hold an LLM in estate planning and elder law are well positioned to provide assistance to individuals and couples who are intent on making sure that their estates are settled in accordance with their wishes.

The decision to take an online estate planning LLM program is one that should be made around your personal needs, but should be strongly considered as an option for additional education and career advancement. Earning an LLM in estate planning online gives you results that are similar to attending a campus in-person in that you earn your LLM in estate planning and elder law upon successful completion of the program.

How We Ranked the Best LLM in Elder Law Programs

The editors of Online Paralegal Programs researched LLM and Legal Studies Master’s programs in elder law and estate planning, both online and on-campus, offered by accredited, reputable institutions. Programs are ranked by cost, potential salary, and student satisfaction.

1. University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois’s Marshall School of Law offers an LLM in elder law degree program for law professionals who hold a JD who want to specialize in estate planning. This elder law LLM degree program requires the completion of 30 graduate semester credits for students to graduate. The core coursework for this campus-based degree from the University of Illinois includes estate planning 1 & 2, taxation for trusts and estates, and wealth transfer taxation, among others. UI Chicago’s School of Law is recognized as the only public law school in the greater Chicago area.

The University of Illinois Chicago is a multiple-campus institution of higher education that was founded in 1982. The University of Illinois in Chicago is recognized as both a Hispanic and Asian-serving university and a space-grant school. More than 33,250 students attend classes on both Chicago campuses and online.

Program: LLM – Estate Planning
Format: Campus

2. West Virginia University

West Virginia University offers an LLM in Elder Law degree program for law professionals that require the completion of thirty semester units. West Virginia University’s elder law LLM degree program allows degree candidates to complete the ten required classes to earn the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree with a specialization in elder law. This graduate legal degree program offers students three academic tracks – the healthcare track, the justice track, or the homeland security track.

Founded as an agricultural plus a space-grant and land-grant school, West Virginia University, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, is now a multi-campus institution of higher education with its main campus in Morgantown. Altogether, West Virginia University’s student enrollment is approximately 29,750 students. More than two dozen Rhodes Scholars consider themselves alumni of West Virginia University.

Program: MLS in Elder Law
Format: Online

3. University of Miami

The School of Law at the University of Miami offers an elder law LLM degree program with a specialty in estate planning through the Heckerling Graduate in Estate Planning program. Students enter the workforce with a variety of career paths once they have completed this LLM in Elder Law degree program from Miami law. It is noted that this elder law degree is campus-based in sunny South Florida, just outside downtown Miami, which is known as Magic City.

Established during the mid-1920s as a private school, the University of Miami (UMiami) now operates as a space-grant school with several academic centers and campuses in south Florida and a main campus in Coral Gables. With an endowment that exceeds $1 billion, the University of Miami now serves approximately 17,450 students. The University of Miami offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs to students hail from more than 100 countries.

Program: LLM – Estate Planning
Format: Campus

4. Golden Gate University

Golden Gate University’s School of Law offers a campus-based LLM in Elder Law degree program in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law that requires the completion of twenty-four semester units to meet the graduate law degree requirements. Students enrolled in Golden Gate University’s elder law LLM degree program permits those applicants who hold a Jurist Doctor degree to finish the program in one semester, with the application of twelve eligible credit units.

Established in the early 190ss, Golden Gate University is a private school dedicated to educating professionals in law, business, accounting, and taxation. Currently, Golden Gate University is home to more than 5,050 students attending classes online and on-campus in the city’s financial district. Once an idea in a literary group in a YMCA classroom, Golden Gate received full university state in 1972.

Program: LLM – Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law
Format: Campus

5. Western New England University

Western New England University (WNEU) offers two of the state’s best elder law LLM degree programs with its LLM in Elder Law and Estate Planning or its MS in Elder Law & Estate Planning. The core curriculum for Western New England University’s graduate legal degree in elder law includes estate & gift tax, probate procedure, estate planning, income taxation for estate planners, and trusts/estates taxation, among others.

Western New England University (Western New England) was established as a division of Northeastern College (now Northeastern University) in 1919. The school’s suburban campus in Western Massachusetts is home to approximately 3,755 students vying for a host of academic degrees. The first classes at Western New England University were held in a local YMCA classroom in Springfield, MA.

Program: LLM – Elder Law and Estate Planning or MS in Elder Law and Estate Planning
Format: Online

What is an LLM in Elder Law and Estate Planning?

As people age, they often have complex estates that they intend to pass to the next generation and look to specialists in the area of elder law and estate planning to help them anticipate their needs for transferring their estates to their heirs. An LLM in Elder Law and Estate Planning helps attorneys prepare to help senior clients and their families make those plans.

The LLM in elder law and estate planning is not a tax LLM even though there’s an overlap between the two areas of law. The LLM in estate planning and elder law does more than handle the creation of trusts, wills, probate and other estate planning issues. It also teaches students how to handle the areas of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and related federal and state laws. An LLM in elder law also teaches students how to advocate for their clients when it comes to protecting them against predatory actors and ensuring that the clients’ wishes are respected at all times and even after their passing.

Who Should Get an Elder Law/Estate Planning LLM?

The LLM in estate planning is only available to students who have earned their juris doctorate and are seeking to refine their knowledge in the areas of estate planning and elder law. The LLM estate planning and elder law degree draws from the legal areas of taxation, probate, estate planning and elder law. An attorney who has experience in any one of these areas should consider the LLM in estate planning and elder law to give further focus to their skills, knowledge and career focus. It’s an area of law that will always have clients, but the aging Baby Boomer population has more people in need of legal advocacy than ever before. The time is now for attorneys in these areas of law to get their LLM in elder law/estate planning and be prepared to meet the coming demand.

The largest transfer of intergenerational wealth is on the horizon as the Baby Boomers are reaching their later years and are starting to think about estate planning. It’s estimated that 10,000 people a day will retire between now and 2030 as the bulk of the generational cohort reach the age of 65 and are eligible for retirement. Many will want to protect their assets while they still have the time and faculty to make sound decisions as to the disposition of their assets.

Not everyone will beat a path to an estate planner’s door after retirement, but many will. The sheer size of the Baby Boomer cohort means that estate planners are going to be in demand. Add into that the fact that health directives and other legal documents that prevent bad decisions from being made on someone’s behalf are a necessity in today’s complicated world. It quickly becomes apparent that earning an LLM in estate planning and elder law is a wise decision on the part of a lawyer who’s already working in one of the areas of law related to estate planning.

Should I Get an Elder Law/Estate Planning LLM Online?

Earning a degree online doesn’t carry the stigma it once did, and many prestigious universities are now offering an estate planning LLM program online. You can potentially earn your LLM in estate planning online from a university that’s hundreds or thousands of miles from you, and use the prestige of the school to help you open the doors to more possible employers.

Working lawyers put a lot of time into their processes and production, and usually don’t have a lot of time to commute and attend classes at a physical campus. Earning an LLM in estate planning online eliminates the commute and attendance requirements while offering greater educational flexibility. Students who attend online classes aren’t usually required to be at their computer at a certain time. Instead, class programming is recorded and students participate in online settings after the class. Instructors are available during certain times to meet with students, and submission of assignments is done by a certain deadline. Online estate planning LLM programs also recognize the fact that students usually have day jobs, and are designed to accommodate busy working schedules.

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