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Assessment by Exam Route

Designed to reflect the diverse knowledge set of the trust and estate industry.


Program Overview

STEP Canada has brought together top senior professionals in the trust and estate industry to create the four courses comprising the STEP Canada Assessment by Exam program. As a result, the curriculum involves a combination of expertise and extensive practical knowledge that cannot be found anywhere else. Together the courses provide a complete education, inclusive of all the various facets of trusts and estates that a practitioner in the field might be exposed to.

This program is well suited for candidates who work in the trusts and estates industry in Canada. A professional designation is not required for candidates to join this route. If you aspire to work in the trusts and estates industry and do not have prior experience or education in this area, you may apply directly to this program, however the CETA program is an excellent way to bridge the gap in your knowledge in order to be successful in the Assessment by Exam program.

The program is comprised of four courses that follow a self-study curriculum and are delivered online. Online examinations require a functioning webcam and microphone and access to administrative rights on your computer. Examinations are held twice per year, typically on the last Monday in May and the first Monday in November. Registration into the program is ongoing with the registration deadline set at 30 days before the exam date. It is recommended that you have at least 120 hours of study time available before each examination. Each course in the Assessment by Exam Program is $895 plus applicable tax.

Program Timeline

You have four years from the time you register as STEP Affiliate to complete the Assessment by Exam program. Since registration is offered on a rolling basis, you will have four calendar years plus the additional months to the next exam date. For example, if you register in January 2020, you will have until May 2024 to complete all your exams (January 2020 to January 2024 plus an additional 4 months to allow for your final examination in May 2024). The fastest route through the Assessment by Exam program is 2 years, which can be accomplished by taking exams consecutively each session (May and November). Exams can only be taken one at a time and each course must be taken in order.

Course Exemptions

There are exemptions possible that may reduce the length of time required to complete the Assessment by Exam program. You may be granted an exemption from a course in the Assessment by Exam program if you have passed a course or earned a professional credential in the past five years. Detailed information is provided on the course information tabs on this page. Exemptions are not granted based on professional experience. Each exemption application requires a fee of $150 and there is a maximum of 2 exemptions allowed under the current program rules.

French Language Civil Law Courses

Each course in the Assessment by Exam route is available in French and tailored to Civil Law. The French courses follow the same format and structure as the English courses with respect to learning objectives and course delivery. Registration into the French Assessment by Exam program is completed by sending an email to education@step.ca after completing the online registration into the first English course. Civil Law courses in English are not available at this time.

Membership Requirement

Registration into any of the educational routes offered by STEP Canada requires that you have a membership in good standing. Upon registering into your first course, your registration for affiliate membership will be added to your course registration. Membership fees are not pro-rated and the membership cycle runs from March to April annually. The annual membership fee for students (affiliate and associate levels) is $220 per year. You are required to keep your membership in good standing for the duration of your program.

Experience Requirement

The Assessment by Exam program is the first step to earning your TEP designation. Once you have completed the program, you can apply for full membership if you have at least two years experience where a significant amount of your time (approximately 50%) has been dedicated to trusts and estates work. As the trusts and estates industry is multi-disciplinary, this experience can be filled by many different roles and responsibilities. An applicant must have a total of 50% in any one, or a combination of any of the following areas of practice:

  • Trust Taxation
  • Trust Administration and Accounts
  • Trust or Charity Formation
  • Offshore Trusts
  • Management of a Trust and Estate Practice
  • Executorship and Probate Planning
  • Wills and Estate Planning

Law of Trusts


Course Overview

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the law of trusts in Canada. It provides the theoretical underpinning to the entire Assessment by Exam program and the basic legal knowledge required by all trust and estate practitioners. The course examines the legal nature of a trust and how trusts can be used to achieve client objectives. It also addresses legal issues related to the proper creation and interpretation of trusts, as well as the duties and responsibilities of trustees and the rights of beneficiaries. The fee for this course is $895 plus applicable tax.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recognize the legal nature of a trust and describe how trusts can be used to achieve client objectives.
  • Identify legal issues concerning the creation and interpretation of trusts
  • Apply appropriate legislation and law to a set of facts concerning the creation and administration of trusts.

Course Delivery and Evaluation

The Law of Trusts course follows a self-study curriculum which is provided in an online learning environment which is available to you once you become a registered affiliate member. Inside of the online learning environment you will have access to examination support resources such as: practice case questions, an instructor Q&A forum, and an online forum to engage in course-related discussion with your peers. There is one 3-hour cumulative, open-book online examination that is delivered using a remote-proctoring service. Between 90-120 hours of preparation time is recommended. The passing grade for the examination is 60%

Pre-Requisites

None. It is recommended, but not required, that you have at least one year experience in the trusts and estates industry and/or a professional designation.

Possible Exemptions

  • A trusts course in law school completed within the last 5 years
  • Earning a Not.E. Credential (Quebec) within the last 5 years

Exemptions from the Law of Trusts course are submitted online through your MY STEP portal at www.step.ca. You must create an account if you do not have one already in order to access the registration and exemption options. Once you are logged in, click on Register for a diploma course and from here you will see a link to apply for an exemption. You must attach your course outline and transcript. If you are applying with a Not.E credential, you must attach a copy of your certificate.

Taxation of Trusts & Estates


Course Overview

This course covers the tax consequences of creating a trust, taxation of income in a trust, and the tax consequences of distributions to a beneficiary. The tax consequences of death are examined along with taxation of the first year of an estate and basic post-mortem tax planning. Reporting and filing requirements are included along with an introduction to tax planning strategies for trusts and estates. The fee for this course is $895 plus applicable tax.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recognize the tax issues with respect to trust creation and related income and distributions.
  • Identify tax consequences of death and discuss basic post-mortem tax planning.
  • Demonstrate tax reporting and filing requirements and describe basic tax planning strategies for trusts and estates.

Course Delivery and Evaluation

The Taxation of Trusts & Estates course follows a self-study curriculum which is provided in an online learning environment. Inside of the online learning environment you will have access to examination support resources such as: practice case questions, an instructor Q&A forum, and an online forum to engage in course-related discussion with your peers. There is one 3-hour cumulative, open-book online examination that is delivered using a remote-proctoring service. The passing grade for the examination is 60%

Pre-Requisites

STEP Canada course Law of Trusts or an approved exemption for course 1.

Possible Exemptions

  • CPA courses (all three required): In-Depth Tax courses I and II, and In-Depth Tax Issues for the Owner-Managed Business (completed within the last 5 years).
  • Taxation of Trusts & Estates course completed within the last 5 years at a law school
  • Masters Level course in taxation of trusts and estates completed within the last 5 years.

It is recommended to apply for course exemptions upon your initial enrollment into the STEP Assessment by Exam route. Exemption requests are submitted via email through the Exemption Application Form. You must attach your course outline and transcript for your application to be reviewed.

Wills, Estate & Trust Administration


Course Overview

This course covers the law of wills, will preparation, probate fee planning and planning for incapacity. The consequences of dying without a will and potential claims against an estate are examined. The duties of the estate trustee are included, along with details of the steps necessary to properly administer an estate or trust. The fee for this course is $895 plus applicable tax.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recall the law of wills and discuss planning strategies.
  • Identify the consequences of death without a will.
  • Demonstrate the process of estate or trust administration.

Course Delivery and Evaluation

The Wills, Estate & Trust Administration course follows a self-study curriculum which is provided in an online learning environment. Inside of the online learning environment you will have access to examination support resources such as: practice case questions, an instructor Q&A forum, and an online forum to engage in course-related discussion with your peers. There is one 3-hour cumulative, open-book online examination that is delivered using a remote-proctoring service. The passing grade for the examination is 60%

Pre-Requisites

STEP Canada course Taxation of Trusts & Estates or an approved exemption for course 2.

Possible Exemptions

  • STEP Canada CETA Certificate completed within the last 5 years.
  • Law school or Master’s Level course in Wills and Estates completed within the last 5 years.

It is recommended to apply for course exemptions upon your initial enrollment into the STEP Assessment by Exam route. Exemption requests are submitted via email through the Exemption Application Form. You must attach your course outline and transcript for your application to be reviewed. If you are applying with a CETA Certificate, course outlines are not required.

Trust & Estate Planning


Course Overview

This course builds on the previous three courses and provides a framework for students to apply the concepts and technical knowledge already acquired. Using a case study method, the students will focus on identification of key issues and appropriate solutions and plans. Advanced tax planning and more complex estate planning issues are examined including unique family situations, charitable giving, U.S. estate tax, and planning for business owners. The fee for this course is $895 plus applicable tax. This fee does not include the two mandatory textbooks.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss advanced tax planning and complex estate planning issues.
  • Identify key issues in various client scenarios and provide appropriate solutions and plans
  • Demonstrate concepts and technical knowledge from pre-requisite courses in order to provide comprehensive solutions to various client scenarios.

Course Delivery and Evaluation

The Trust & Estate Planning course follows a self-study curriculum which is provided via an online learning environment and two mandatory textbooks. Inside of the online learning environment you will have access to examination support resources such as: practice case questions, an instructor Q&A forum, and an online forum to engage in course-related discussion with your peers. There are two assignments and one 3-hour cumulative, open-book online examination that is delivered using a remote-proctoring service. The passing grade for the course is 60%.

Note: The French-language civil law version of this course does not require the completion of assignments or additional textbooks. The French course has one 3-hour cumulative, open-book online examination. The passing grade is 60%.

Pre-Requisites

STEP Canada course Wills, Estate & Trust Administration, or an approved exemption for course 3.

Possible Exemptions

  • CFP Credential earned within the last five years.
  • Pl.Fin. Credential (Quebec) earned within the last five years.
  • Advocis Course: Advanced Planning 257 completed within the last five years.

It is recommended to apply for course exemptions upon your initial enrollment into the STEP Assessment by Exam route. Exemption requests are submitted via email through the Exemption Application Form. If you are applying with a professional credential, you must attach a copy of your certificate that shows the date the credential was awarded. If you are applying with the Advocis course, a course outline is not required, a transcript is sufficient.


Getting Started

  • 1
    Create and Activate your Account

    To get started with the Assessment by Exam program, Create a New STEP Canada Account. Once completed you will receive an account activation email, please be sure to check your junk folder.

  • 2
    Enroll online through the MY STEP Portal

    Once logged in to your MY STEP account you will have access to the Education menu, select Assessment by Exam Enrollment. Course registrations are processed within two business days. Once your registration is complete you will receive an email with course access instructions.

Connect with the Education team

If you need further information about the Assessment by Exam program and would like to connect with our Education team quickly, you can schedule a meeting using the calendar below or send an email to education@step.ca







FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I sign up now but need more time to prepare for the exam?

You can defer your exam without financial penalty as long as you provide 30 days notice. You will be able to take your course exam at the next available session. The deferral process and other administrative procedures are covered in the course outline that students receive once they are registered.

Do you have exam centres?

There are no exam centres, or any in-person requirements as part of the Assessment by Exam program. Examinations are completed online through a remote proctoring service.

Do these courses count for CE credits?

At the present time the courses in the Assessment by Exam program are accredited by FP Canada. Prospective and current students are encouraged to check the FP Canada website to review the CE credits awarded. For all other organizations, our courses will fall under the umbrella of unaccredited learning and you may be able to claim CE credits. Upon the completion of your course you will be able to print a completion letter from your MY STEP portal which states that 120 hours of study are required. Prospective and current students are encouraged to check with their relevant professional organization(s) concerning available CE credits for unaccredited learning.

Are there networking opportunities for students?

Yes! Upon your initial registration into the program you will be asked to select your branch affiliation. You will be notified of branch events by email from our Member Services team, you can also find events at https://step.ca/events. Students receive either complimentary or reduced-rate attendance to branch seminar sessions and networking events. Additionally, students enjoy reduced rates for National events.