Estate Planning and Probate Law Certification

North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization
 

Under 27 NCAC 01D Section .2301, the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization established estate planning and probate law as a field of law for which attorney could obtain board certification.

For purposes of the board certification program the specialty area of "estate planning and probate law" is defined as the practice of law dealing with "planning for conservation and disposition of estates, including consideration of federal and state tax consequences; preparation of legal instruments to effectuate estate plans; and probate of wills and administration of estates, including federal and state tax matters."

Use our directory to find a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law in North Carolina


Certification Standards for Estate Planning and Probate Law

Under 27 NCAC 01D Section .2305, the North Carolina Bar Board of Legal Specialization established certain standards for certification as a specialist in estate planning and probate law. Those standards include showing substantial involvement through time spent doing substantive legal work in the practice of estate planning and probate law.

To obtain certification, the attorney must also show experience gained through representing clients in specific types of legal problems. Tasks showing experience gained in the practice area include:

  • prepared, reviewed or supervised the preparation of federal estate tax returns, North Carolina inheritance tax returns, and federal and state fiduciary income tax returns, including representation before the Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue in connection with such tax returns and related controversies;
  • handled or advised with respect to the probate of wills and the administration of decedents' estates, including representation of the personal representative before the clerk of superior court, guardianship, will contest, and declaratory judgment actions;
  • preparing or supervising the preparation of federal and state gift tax returns, including representation before the Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue in connection with gift tax returns;
  • preparing or supervising the preparation of business planning agreements (including buy?sell agreements and employment contracts), powers of attorney and other estate planning instruments;
  • preparing or supervising the preparation revocable and irrevocable inter vivos trusts (including short?term and minor's trusts);
  • prepared or supervising the preparation of estate planning instruments, such as simple and complex wills (including provisions for testamentary trusts, marital deductions and elections); and
  • counseling persons in estate planning and estate planning matters such as advice with respect to gifts, life insurance, wills, trusts, business arrangements and agreements.

Part of the substantial involvement requirements can also be shown through a practice equivalent such as:

  • service as a law professor concentrating in the teaching of taxation or estate planning and probate law (or other approved related fields);
  • service as a trust officer with a corporate fiduciary having duties primarily in the area of estate and trust administration; or
  • obtaining an LL.M. degree in taxation or estate planning and probate law (or other approved related fields).

Continuing Education and Peer Review Requirements

Additionally, the attorney seeking specialty certification in Estate Planning and Probate Law much meet certain Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements in estate planning and probate law or related areas of the law include real property, family law, Medicaid planning, elder law, guardianship, taxation, business organizations.

The attorney seeking specialty certification in North Carolina for Estate Planning and Probate Law must also submit to peer review from other lawyers or judges who are familiar with the attorney's practice and can attest to the attorney's qualifications.

The attorney must pass a written examination designed to test the attorney's knowledge on the following topics important to estate planning and probate law in North Carolina:

  • federal and North Carolina tax law applicable to partnerships and corporations (including S corporations) which may be encountered in estate planning and administration.
  • North Carolina law of business organizations, family law, and property law as they may be applicable to estate planning transactions;
  • federal and North Carolina income and gift tax laws as they apply to revocable and irrevocable inter vivos trusts;
  • North Carolina probate law, including fiduciary accounting;
  • North Carolina law of wills and trusts;
  • federal and North Carolina income taxes as they apply to the final returns of the decedent and his or her surviving spouse;
  • federal and North Carolina fiduciary income taxes;
  • North Carolina inheritance tax;
  • federal estate tax; and
  • federal and North Carolina gift taxes.

Recertification as a Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law

Under 27 NCAC 01D Section .2306, the period for certification is five years. During that period the attorney must apply for continued certification showing substantial involvement, obtaining certain continuing legal education (CLE) credits, and peer review.


Finding an Estate Planning Attorney in North Carolina

Estate planning clients make sure that all assets are protected in the estate plan. Those assets might include life insurance, annuities, securities, stock options, IRAs, qualified retirement plans, real estate, and businesses. Estate planning often overlaps with other legal practice areas such a tax law and family law.

At Lawyer Legion, we understand the important role that board certification programs play when the public begins their search for a qualified attorney in the specialty area of probate law or estate planning in North Carolina.


This article was last updated on Friday, November 22, 2019.