• Admission requirements - LLB or equivalent legal qualification. Research competency and writing skills, as well as practical experience, are taken into account when considering applications. As a guideline, students must have obtained an average of 60% for the final-year LLB modules and the dissertation.
  • International students - An evaluation certificate issued by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) must be submitted if a previous qualification was obtained in a foreign country. 
  • Duration of study - Minimum one year, maximum two years.
  • Additional admission requirements - The Director Postgraduate Programmes may require a student to furnish sufficient proof of his/her research skills before receiving permission to register. If a student wishes to obtain an LLM degree in a subject not included in the LLB or in which the student’s achievements are not of the required standard, the Director may prescribe an admission examination in the subject concerned.
  • Capacity - The LLM programmes and elective modules are only offered if the Director of Research is of the opinion that there is sufficient demand for them.
  • Research topics - Students can only register for a research topic in any module when sufficient supervision is available and if the Director is of the opinion that there will be sufficient expertise to support and guide a student in the Faculty.

LLM in Estate Law (focuses on estate planning and not the administration of estates)

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is often thought of as an exercise that should only be undertaken by those who have amassed large estates and who consequently want to employ strategies to offset the negative effect which estate duty would have on the estate. From an estate planning perspective, once an individual has amassed a large estate, the estate planner has very limited options available at his disposal. However, if estate planning is undertaken when an estate is relatively small, the estate owner has a much wider range of planning options available. 

In this regard the LLM in Estate Law aims to provide an academic deepening and broadening of professional experience for outstanding law graduates from South Africa. It 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. The LLM focuses on skills needed by well-rounded lawyers who want to assist their clients with estate planning.

How will a degree in estate planning assist me?

Estate planning as a profession is very 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. 

Estate planning is based on a two-stage process. The first stage entails the preparation and implementation of a plan of wealth disposition during the lifetime of the client, and the second stage the implementation of the plan after the death of the client. 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 issues related to insurance and financial planning.

Long-running programme

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 where learners obtain the necessary knowledge and practical skills to do proper estate planning. The programme is aimed at practitioners who want to enhance and/or update their knowledge.

Feedback from alumni

The feedback from our LLM Estate Law graduates is excellent and many of our graduates have secured careers or furthered their careers as practitioners specialising in estate law, or as legal advisors at banks and insurance companies.

Module presenters

We use practitioners and skilled personnel who have the knowledge and practical experience in the different subjects to assist students in the study of this LLM degree.

Programme leader:  Prof Anél Gildenhuys



LLMB 871 Estate planning law

Prof Japie Coetzee
Ms Naeema Gabru

LLMB 872 Tax law

Prof Japie Coetzee
Ms Naeema Gabru

LLMB 811 Financial planning law

Prof Henk Kloppers
Ms Naeema Gabru
Ms Marie Preston

LLMB 812 Private Law: Capital Selecta

Prof Mitzi Wiese
Prof Anél Gildenhuys
Prof Marita Carnelley

Admission requirements:

To gain admission to the LLM programme, a student has to meet all the requirements set by this university or any other South African university for the LLB degree. A student in possession of another four-year legal degree from the NWU or another university may apply for admission to the LLM programme.

Compilation of curriculum – LLM in Estate Law

KODE: 6CM P01, R801P



The programme comprises the following modules:

Module Code



Year modules

LLMB 873

Research Methodology and mini-dissertation


LLMB 871

Estate Planning Law


LLMB 872

Tax Law


Semester 1

LLMB 811

Financial Planning Law 


LLMB 812

Private Law


Credit total for modules


Credit total for curriculum


Seminar Programme 2022  (Download)