Certificate in Trust: Foundational (ABA)


The estimated time to complete the 9 required courses is approximately 10 hours.

Individuals can earn this certificate – designed for those who need to establish or strengthen their understanding of basic wealth management and trust principles – either online or in an immersive program. Either option provides an introduction to estate planning, trust administration, investment management concepts and ethical behavior.

For those wishing to earn the CTFA professional designation, the ABA Certificate in Trust: Foundational satisfies the first of three levels of study required to sit for the exam.

You must complete the following courses:

A Guide to Ethics in Fiduciary and Trust Activities
Your client doesn’t want to trust his house keys to someone he doesn’t trust; he won’t want to trust his trust assets, either. This Guide to Ethics presents scenarios identifying ethical breaches, and provides the trustee with tools should he discover a breach

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Describe the duties of the trustee to beneficiaries, including the duty of loyalty and the duty to enforce and defend claims
• Explain trustee liability in the event of a breach of trust and remedy options
• Describe tools provided under the Uniform Trust Code (UTC) that trustees can use to manage fiduciary risk
• Explain the differences between an agency and a fiduciary relationship

A Guide to Ethics in Investments
Explains the importance of trustee duties, custody of client assets, and recognizing the penalties for violating fiduciary duties. Explores avoiding conflicts of interest and covers information on the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (UPIA). Offers guidelines on ethical behavior related to self dealing, equal treatment of accounts, and soft dollar services.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Describe laws that pertain to ethical behavior for an investment manager
• Identify trustee duties relating to investment activities and penalties for violating fiduciary duties
• Describe common violations of conflict of interest when managing investments
• Explain prudent investor guidelines, including the prudent man standard, the prudent expert standard, and the Uniform Prudent Investor Act

Estate and Guardian Administration
Generates an understanding of the estate administration process including deadlines, protecting assets, paying claims against the estate, asset management, income tax obligations, and distribution responsibilities. Explains the preliminary matters relating to guardian administration, including responsibilities in estate asset inventory and asset management and closing a guardianship/conservatorship.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Define probate and the matters required prior to opening a probate estate
• Explain the duties of a trust professional in estate administration
• Define guardianship and describe the responsibilities associated with guardianship administration

Introduction to Estate Planning
Covers tax implications for grantor and charitable trusts and the concepts of gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer taxes. Presents special rules for taxes, ways to minimize taxes, and how to calculate gift and estate taxes. Explains advantages and disadvantages of making lifetime gifts, and estate planning with the marital deduction.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Define basic terms
• Explain how trusts are taxed
• Minimize transfer taxes
• Calculate gift and estate taxes
• Describe why estate planning is important
• Identify considerations when developing an estate plan
• Use the marital deduction to maximize estate planning

Introduction to Investment Management
Provides a necessary and solid base prior to an exploration of more complex strategies. Explores the investment types commonly used in trusts, the methods for stock and bond selection and analysis, the economic influences and legal considerations regarding trust investments, and many of the considerations and tools for portfolio management.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Define the types of trust investments that fall within these categories—cash and liquid, fixed-income, equity, mutual fund, and other investments
• Describe many of the methods used to select and analyze stock and bond investments
• Explain the basic mechanics of portfolio management
• Identify key client information to help clients determine investment portfolio considerations
• Describe economic influences regarding trust investments, including the Federal Reserve, business cycles, and economic indicators
• Explain the legal considerations that affect actions regarding trust investments

Introduction to IRAs
Explores key concepts on basic IRA product features and benefits, contribution and distribution requirements. Explains traditional, rollover, and Roth IRAs, including the new conversion rules, as well as Simplified Employee Pension Plans and SIMPLE Retirement Accounts. Presents information about IRA tax benefits and penalty calculations.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Describe the types of Individual Retirement Accounts, including contribution rules:
o Traditional IRAs
o Roth IRAs
o Rollover IRAs
o Simplified employee pension plans
o SIMPLE retirement accounts and 401(k) plans
• Explain the IRA withdrawal requirements

Introduction to Planning for Retirement Assets
Focuses on the planning aspects of various retirement plans. Explains the tax treatment of qualified plan benefits for taxation, the methods and requirements for distributing retirement resources in a timely and tax-effective manner, the impact on the estate plan of naming various beneficiaries on an IRA, and the post mortem payout requirements of qualified plans

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Identify the common qualified retirement plans – their features and benefits
• Explain the favorable tax treatment of qualified retirement plans and common related administrative issues

Introduction to Trust Administration
Provides an overview of trust administration for personal trusts and is designed to help new trust professionals identify key issues and use common trust terminology appropriately. It covers trust basics, including requirements to create a trust and common types of personal trusts; account acceptance and termination considerations; and factors to consider before making discretionary distributions.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Explain how property ownership impacts trusts
• Explain basic trust concepts and terminology
• Discuss personal trusts
• Describe account acceptance and termination procedures
• Explain the considerations for discretionary distributions

Minimizing Fiduciary Risk and Litigation
Outlines risks associated with participation in the estate planning process, asset management, and fiduciary liability to third parties, and ways to mitigate risk in all situations. Describes ways to mitigate risks of self-dealing and prohibited transactions, and explores the risks associated with notice to beneficiaries and accounting and discretionary distributions.

After completing this course, students will be able to:
• Identify general types of trust litigation
• Describe situations that may contribute to risk exposure and ways to mitigate the risk



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