1. Programme name

LLM in Estate Law

  1. Programme code

6CM P01, R801P

  1. Campus

Potchefstroom (English)

  1. Delivery mode


  1. Programme leader

Prof. Anél Gildenhuys

  1. Introduction

The LLM in Estate Law is one of the longest-running programmes of its kind in South Africa and the oldest structured master's degree presented by the Faculty of Law. It has built a reputation as a degree that offer learners the necessary knowledge and practical skills to conduct proper estate planning. Estate planning is defined as the "arrangement, management, securement and disposition" of a client's estate so that the client, his/her family and other beneficiaries can enjoy and continue to enjoy the maximum from his/her estate and assets during the client's lifetime and after his/her death, no matter when death may occur (Meyerowitz 2010). Estate planning is, accordingly, a two-stage process.

The first stage entails preparing and implementing a plan of wealth disposition during the client's lifetime, and the second stage is the implementation of the plan after the client's death. In order to prepare a plan of wealth disposition, an estate planner must take cognisance of issues such as taxation, estate administration, family law, the law of succession and property law. Added to these fields, the profession has evolved to such an extent that the estate planner should also be able to advise on insurance and financial planning issues. The LLM in Estate Law serves as an academic qualification for careers in the areas of estate law, providing students with theoretical and practical knowledge of estate planning, tax law, financial planning law, and selected themes from private law related to estate planning. This field of study is designed to bridge the gap between academia and practice. It is important to note that the programme focuses on estate planning, not the administration of deceased estates.

  1. Prior knowledge required

The successful completion of the following undergraduate modules is not a requirement, but it is strongly recommended, namely Tax Law, Insurance Law and Trust Law.

No previous experience in estate planning is required.

  1. Programme outcomes

Upon completion of the LLM in Estate Law, the student should be able to demonstrate:

  • a comprehensive and systematic knowledge base in estate law as it pertains to estate planning and the ability to apply the knowledge;
  • a coherent and critical understanding of the methodology of estate planning law so as to rigorously critique and evaluate current research in this field, participate in scholarly debates and research relating to theory and practice;
  • an ability to use advanced information-retrieval and processing skills to identify, critically analyse and synthesise information relevant to complex and/or real-world problems, cases and issues in the field of estate law, debating solutions from theoretical and research perspectives published in current literature and presenting the information to specialist and non-specialist audiences using IT effectively; and
  • the ability to critically evaluate and apply the ethics, values, rules, norms and regulations pertaining to estate law encapsulated in national and international documents.
  1. Modules

The LLM in Estate Law covers the enjoyment of an estate by inter alia the estate owner during his/her lifetime and the continuation of the enjoyment after death by the beneficiaries. The modules in the programme are accordingly directed towards the mentioned "arrangement, management, securement and disposition of a person's estate".


LLMB 871 - Estate Planning Law

Theoretical and practical aspects pertaining to estate planning, trust law and estate duty.


LLMB 872 - Tax Law

Theoretical and practical aspects pertaining to tax law, with specific reference to capital gains tax, value added tax, income tax, donations tax and estate duty.


LLMB 811 - Financial Planning Law

Theoretical and practical aspects pertaining to financial planning, with specific reference to the financial planning process, the fundamentals of financial planning and the importance of insurance planning as part of estate planning.


LLMB 812 - Capita Selecta: Private Law

Theoretical and practical aspects pertaining to the law of succession, matrimonial property law and property law


LLMB 873 - Research methodology and mini-dissertation

See Research heading below.

  1. Lecturers
  • Ms Naeema Gabru - Modules: LLMB 871 (Estate Planning Law) and LLMB 872 (Tax Law)
  • Prof Henk Kloppers - Module: LLMB 811 (Financial Planning Law)
  • Ms Marie Preston - Module: LLMB 811 (Financial Planning Law)
  • Prof Marita Carnelley - Module: LLMB 812 (Capita Selecta: Private Law – specifically Matrimonial Property Law)
  • Prof Mitzi Wiese - Module: LLMB 812 (Capita Selecta: Private Law – specifically Property Law)
  • Prof Anél Gildenhuys (Programme Leader) - Module: LLMB 812 (Capita Selecta: Private Law – specifically Law of Succession)
  1. Research

Students must attend the compulsory Research Methodology seminars as scheduled.

In addition to the compulsory attendance of the Research Methodology seminars, students are also required to complete a mini-dissertation under the supervision of an academic faculty member(s). A mini-dissertation is an in-depth, focused, and research-based study on a topic that is research worthy and that relates to at least one of the modules offered in the LLM in Estate Law programme. The generally accepted standard for such a mini-dissertation is that it must be publishable in a peer-reviewed scholarly law journal.

  1. Employment options or further study opportunities after completion of the programme

Estate planning as a profession is important for legal practitioners, financial advisors and specialist estate planners. The completion of this programme opens up career opportunities in private practice, as well as in the private banking and financial sector.