Estates, Wills & Trusts In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

When it comes to end-of-life planning, there are understandably many emotions and there can be much stress involved. Dealing with state-specific laws and regulations around different types of documents can make the process even more distressing for many individuals.

Let an experienced Wilmington estate planning lawyer confidently guide you through the process. The team at David E. Anderson, PLLC, is committed to helping you by providing you with high-quality care and knowledge throughout the estate planning process.


You may have heard people use the word “estate” when talking about end-of-life planning. Essentially, your “estate” refers to anything that you own. It includes any and all of your assets, including:

  • Bank accounts
  • Real estate
  • Investments
  • Furniture and other physical possessions
  • Cash
  • Digital assets, including passwords, accounts, and electronically stored documents, photos, and videos

People use wills and trusts to determine what happens to everything in their estate after they die. This process is called estate planning. Because estates encompass so many assets, estate planning is necessary to ensure your belongings and assets go where you want them to, when you want them to.

Durable Powers of Attorney

Estate planning also involves deciding who can make major decisions on your behalf. One important piece of this is determining a durable power of attorney. This person can manage your finances and make financial decisions either alongside or instead of you. “Durable” means that this person holds that power indefinitely.

Health Care Powers of Attorney

If you are unconscious, a healthcare power of attorney allows another person to make medical decisions for you. 


A will can also be called a “last will and testament.” Wills allow individuals to decide how they want their property distributed upon their death and declare how they want any minor children to be cared for. Wills cover property that includes real estate, personal belongings, and financial assets.

In North Carolina, wills are subject to probate. Probate is a legal process where the courts validate the will, and someone is appointed to oversee asset distribution correctly. This can be a time-consuming and complicated process for family members, especially when the deceased’s wishes are complicated.


If someone dies without a will, a North Carolina probate court will say that they died “intestate.” In intestacy, the state lawdecides how the deceased’s assets are distributed. Distributions pursuant to state law may not align with the deceased person’s wishes. A trusted Wilmington estate planning lawyer can help protect you and your loved ones from this situation by ensuring you have a legally binding will.

Living Will

You may have heard the term “living will.” A living will is not about the distribution of assets; rather, a living will documents which medical treatment someone does or does not want to receive if they are extremely ill and unconscious or otherwise unable to decide. In North Carolina, you can specify that you do not want life-prolonging measures in certain circumstances. 


A trust is another estate planning tool. Similar to a will, it is a way that you can decide how you want your assets distributed. Unlike a will, a trust is not subject to a probate court. This can help ease stress and delays for your loved ones.

A trust can also encompass assets that are not included in wills, such as life insurance policies and businesses. Trusts are particularly helpful for complicated asset distribution if, for example, you want certain assets distributed only after a certain period of time has passed or certain conditions are met.

Finally, in North Carolina, trusts can minimize estate taxes compared to wills.

A trust typically requires more work to set up, but it may offer more benefits and protections for you and your loved ones. Deciding between a will and a trust is a complicated decision; you deserve an experienced team in your corner to provide you with insight and knowledge. Making an informed decision can help ease your anxieties about end-of-life planning.

Guidance from Experienced, Compassionate Lawyers

Estate administration can be a complicated process. A local team committed to the best interests of you and your loved ones can make all the difference, offering guidance that aligns with your priorities. David E. Anderson, PLLC, is based right here in Wilmington, North Carolina. Our team cares about our neighbors and is excited to provide you with any help you need.

Contact Our Team Today

A Wilmington estate planning lawyer offers experience specific to North Carolina and its laws. David E. Anderson, PLLC, is dedicated to easing any stress or anxiety you may feel about end-of-life planning. Our team can help you draft estate planning documents that are comprehensive, thoughtful, and best suited for your needs. Learn more by reaching out today.

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