Tax & Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Transfer of Wealth

In a world of changing tax laws, complex rules and regulations, and fluctuating financial markets, it is more important than ever to have sound legal advice when planning your estate.  Without proper planning, the assets you have worked hard to accumulate could be unnecessarily subject to tax, administrative, and probate expenses and could even be distributed in a manner contrary to your intent.  The four lawyers making up the estate planning division of Kennon Craver have a depth of experience in the development and execution of a variety of estate plans from the simplest will to the most complicated trust.  We have advised clients on such topics as the transmittal of closely held businesses, the establishment of trusts to protect disabled or minor beneficiaries, the development of estate plans for second marriages or unmarried partners, the most tax effective transfers of qualified retirement plan assets, and the optimum methods to be used in gifting to children, grandchildren, charities, and even pets.  The collaborative practice of the estate planning professionals at Kennon Craver results in our clients having the benefit of a wide array of expertise and experience delivered in a cost effective manner.

Our practice includes a variety of services and planning techniques designed to cover virtually any estate planning situation, including –

  • Drafting simple wills and trusts;
  • Giving advice on estate planning issues involving healthcare and advance directives and drafting healthcare powers of attorney, HIPAA waivers, and "living wills";
  • Advising on the management of assets during incompetency, including the drafting of North Carolina durable powers of attorney and providing for the implementation of the gifting required in more complex estate plans;
  • Advice on tax effective charitable giving, including the creation, drafting and administration of charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, charitable annuities, conservation easements, private foundations, and other charitable techniques;
  • Advise on tax effective transfers of assets to future generations, including the drafting of generation skipping trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, and trusts for the benefit of minor children;
  • Advice on the most effective use of the annual exclusion from gift tax, the lifetime exemption from gift tax and the current estate tax exemption;
  • Advising clients on estate planning techniques for the family, including credit shelter and marital trusts for the surviving spouse and generation skipping trusts, special needs trusts, and trusts for the benefit of minor children or grandchildren;
  • Advice on the most tax effective distribution of retirement plan accounts as well as the drafting of beneficiary designations to achieve the optimum mix of estate and income tax savings;

Estate and Trust Administration       

Life is always difficult after the loss of a loved one.  We consider it our privilege and responsibility to assist our clients with the financial and legal issues arising at such times.  Even the best estate plan can fail without proper administration.  The four attorneys who practice in this area at Kennon Craver have a combined 125 years of experience in dealing with estate and trust administration.  Further, we have three estates paralegals with nearly 100 years of experience in estate and trust administration that are completely dedicated to this area of our legal practice.  We have helped clients administer smaller estates requiring minimal assistance and have also directed the administration of multi-million dollar estates involving complex tax and legal issues.  We insure that our clients meet all of the many tax obligations imposed upon estates while also insuring that they pay the minimum taxes required.  We have extensive experience in representing clients with the Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue and have enjoyed success after success through the years in obtaining optimum results for our clients.  Because we insist on the highest standards in administering estates and trusts, we have established an outstanding reputation with the tax authorities as well as the Clerks of Court in the many counties in North Carolina in which we have administered estates. 

Our experience in estate and trust administration covers all of the services needed, including --

  • Probate of the will and the preparation and filing of all documentations required by the local courts;
  • If appropriate, advice relative to the management and administration of the client’s revocable "living" trust;
  • Advice regarding the gathering of assets, the obtaining of necessary appraisals, and the proper timing and methodology of the distribution of assets;
  • Advice regarding all estate and income tax issues affecting trusts and estates as well as the preparation and filing of all required tax returns, including the federal and North Carolina estate tax returns and the federal and North Carolina fiduciary income tax returns for estates and trusts;
  • Advice to clients concerning ongoing fiduciary responsibilities for inter-vivos and testamentary trusts for spouses, children, grandchildren, and other beneficiaries;
  • Advice to clients regarding post-mortem planning, including the use of disclaimers, family settlement agreements, and the appropriate distribution of retirement funds;
  • Advice on handling claims against the estate as well as advice on pursuing funds due the estate, including filing any court actions needed to pursue such claims.