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NC State Extension

Estate Planning and Administration

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Estate Planning – as the term is used in the context of farm succession – describes the suite of documents drafted, reviewed, and executed that plan for the disposition of assets (heirlooms, farmland, business interests, etc.) while alive by gift and at death by will or trust. The term also concerns plans for ensuring clear instructions for disposition of remains and other wishes to be carried out by descendants and others. Also included are matters of emergency and elder care planning.


The Last Will and Testament: A PrimerThis draft article provides a review of how wills are used to dispose of and distribute real and personal property at death.

The Use of Trusts in Farm Succession Planning. This draft article explores the use of trusts to manage property for beneficiaries in the context of continuing farm and land ownership between generations.

Present Use Value: Maintaining the Individual Ownership Requirement in Farm and Forestland Succession Planning. This narrative discusses in detail the concept of “individual ownership” as required by statute for enrollment of a parcel of land in NC’s present use value differential property tax scheme.

Estate Settlement:  Property Rights of Surviving Spouse. This paper discusses the rights of surviving spouses to property owned jointly and otherwise during their marriage, including valuation of share, elective share, life estate election, and summary estate administration. Keywords: elective share, joint property, marital property, life estate, total net assets, summary administration, year’s allowance

Wills:  A Look at Handwritten (Holographic) Wills. This short piece – written in the early days of the pandemic – reviews the legal requirements for writing a will in your own hand.

Life Estates: Devised Interest in TimberThis piece reviews a recent case concerning an effort to devise rights in timber by will.

Care Planning:  Locating and Registering Health Care Powers of AttorneyThis short piece reviews the process for executing and registering a health care power of attorney.

Wills: North Carolina Court Reviews Per Stirpes IntentThis case review takes a look at a North Carolina Court of Appeals interpretation of critical language used in a will to dispose of assets across two generations of lineal descendants.

Land Title:  An Overview of Titling of Real Property. This short narrative reviews the basics of real property ownership, a critical understanding when planning disposition of or investment in use of property.


Disposition of Real Property (2022)This presentation provides a basic “101” look at real property titling and transfer, including tax consequences. It also provides an overview of use of estate planning and entity tools to manage transfer of interests. 

About the Estate Tax (2022) This short presentation provides a snapshot of current law on estate and gift tax with a bit of historical perspective, a snapshot of impact on the ‘average farm,’ and a few slides on estate planning tools and property disposition.

Estate Planning and Wealth Transfer PrinciplesThis presentation is delivered in numerous counties live and online, coving issues of estate planning with an emphasis on gifting, use of wills and trusts, and limited liability companies to transfer farm and forest assets.

Timberland Transfer and LiabilityThis presentation is delivered to various forestry groups across North Carolina. Addresses estate planning, present use value, and trespass liability (including timber trespass)


Content loaded to Agricultural and Natural Resource Law portal, including narratives, workbooks and presentations, is supported by The North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (TTFC) (Grant award 2019-001-16), titled “An Heirs Guide to Farmland”).