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Assessment by Exam

Assessment by Exam: Courses

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. 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.

All Assessment by Exam courses follow a self-study format. When you enroll, STEP Canada will provide you with a comprehensive course text as well as password protected on-line access to various resources, including a chapter-by-chapter Study Guide. The Study Guide will provide assistance with preparing for the course exam and will contain practice questions and answers for each chapter to help you apply the knowledge you acquire from the text.

You have four years from the time you enroll as a student member of STEP to complete the Assessment by Exam. Time dedicated to studying will differ for each student but we recommend allowing a 4 – 6 month period. There are two exam periods per year, spring and fall, and you are given up to a year in which to sit an exam. You may register for your first course at any time during the year and upon successful completion of your course, are permitted to register for the following course.

A minimum mark of 60% must be achieved on each exam in order to pass and to be awarded the STEP Canada Assessment by Exam.

Course Exemptions
You may qualify for an exemption from a maximum of two of the Assessment by Exam courses. Please review our exemption criteria to see if you qualify.



Assessment by Exam and Course Descriptions

The courses must be taken in the order given as each builds on the previous one(s). In order to enroll in the next course, you must have successfully completed the previous one. The first is the most academic; the rest reinforce this core knowledge with the functional information practitioners need day-to-day. To learn more about the aims of the Assessment by Exam program, click here.

The four courses making up the Assessment by Exam are:

  1. Law of Trusts

    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.

    Click here to see the Law of Trusts curriculum including knowledge & skills objectives.

    Cost: $895 plus applicable tax, including all course materials and exam.

  2. Taxation of Trusts & Estates

    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.

    Click here to see the Taxation of Trusts & Estates curriculum including knowledge & skills objectives.

    Cost: $895 plus applicable tax, including all course materials and exam.

  3. Wills, Trust & Estate Administration

    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.

    Click here to see the Wills, Trust & Estate Administration curriculum including knowledge & skills objectives.

    Cost: $895 plus applicable tax, including all course materials and exam.

  4. Trust & Estate Planning

    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 examination for this course assumes knowledge of the material from the previous three courses.

    NOTE: The evaluation of the Trust & Estate Planning course is based on two written assignments and a final exam. Each assignment is worth 20% of your mark and the final exam is worth 60% of your mark. You must score a minimum of 50% on the final exam.

    Click here to see the Trust and Estate Planning curriculum including knowledge & skills objectives.

    Cost: $895 plus applicable tax, including exam. Please note students will be required to purchase 2 additional textbooks for this course.

Addressing provincial differences in the Assessment by Exam courses

The laws of wills, trusts, estates, and estate administration fall under provincial jurisdiction in Canada. Accordingly every student will have to tailor his or her learning to the specific laws applicable to the province in which he or she is working. Charts and appendices will be provided where appropriate showing the respective provincial legislation and laws. Students will be expected to know details of the relevant material for their own province of residence. An understanding of other provincial law is required to the extent it may affect clients with property or clients who are located in those provinces.

The Assessment by Exam Program is built on the law of trusts, which is rooted in the system of ‘common law’ that English Canada inherited from England. The civil law, relevant in the province of Quebec and codified in the Quebec Civil Code, is addressed but not to the same depth. Generally, the focus with respect to Quebec is on what advisors in the common law provinces need to know to counsel clients who have a connection in Quebec, such as real property located in the province or family or other beneficiaries resident there.

For Quebec students considering enrollment in the course please be aware that the STEP Assessment by Exam does not offer a civil law version of the Assessment by Exam program. Therefore each Quebec student should choose any one of the common law provincial jurisdictions to apply for the purpose of the Law of Trusts course and the Wills, Trust and Estate Administration course.

The tax planning parts of the Assessment by Exam Program are based on federal tax law, which is applicable across Canada.



Enroll In a Course

You can use the STEP Student Registration form to enroll in a STEP Assessment by Exam course whether you are already a student or are looking to become one.

Please note that all new applications, membership dues and fees are subject to the tax respective to the province in which the applicant resides. For further information, please contact Member Services at 416-491-4949 x 221 or

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