Matthew W. Thompson

North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law
Ward and Smith, P.A.
910.794.4837 Fax 910.794.4877
Post Office Box 7068, Wilmington, NC 28406-7068

Matt Thompson has significant experience advising the firm's clients on estate planning, business succession, asset protection, charitable planning, and fiduciary matters. He is attentive to each client's unique needs, focuses on uncovering true goals and objectives, and works to find practical, effective solutions for the client's situation and problems.

Matt is a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. While his practice is focused on helping to protect, transfer, and preserve wealth, he does more than that for many clients—acting more as a trusted advisor and family counselor. He enjoys working with multiple generations to build and protect family legacies, which consist of more than just dollars.


  • J.D., College of William & Mary Law School, 2004
  • B.A., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, University of Delaware, 2000

Representative Experience

Matt's work frequently involves:

  • Preparation of core estate planning documents, such as Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, and Advanced Directives;
  • Creation and funding of Revocable Trusts for private, efficient, and cost-effective administration upon death;
  • Development of strategies for eliminating or mitigating estate and gift taxes;
  • Design and implementation of sophisticated wealth transfer techniques, including gifts and sales to grantor trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs), and Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs);
  • Development of charitable giving strategies through outright gifts, Charitable Lead Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, donor-advised funds, and charitable foundations;
  • Advice on and coordination of the transition of ownership and control of closely-held businesses to the next generation of family or leadership;
  • Formation of closely-held business entities;
  • Income tax planning;
  • Trust Decanting and Trust Modifications;
  • Guardianship matters;
  • Special Needs Trusts for disabled beneficiaries;
  • Long terms care planning issues; and
  • Representation of Executors and Trustees in the administration of Estates and Trusts.

Matt also works with numerous plaintiff's attorneys across state to create Special Needs Trusts for funds received after settlement or verdict, which can preserve needs-based government benefits for their clients and provide for professional, long-term management.

Matt has enjoyed speaking and writing on a number of topics relevant to his field of practice, including essential, everyday estate planning issues, sophisticated estate planning techniques, estate and trust administration issues, fiduciary representation, and fiduciary income tax issues. 

Honors and Distinctions*

  • "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, Tax and Estate Planning, 2022-2023

Legal Elite

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • Lakeside Partners of Wilmington (Chairman, Board Member)
  • Good Shepherd Center (Board Member; past Chairman)
  • New Hanover County Estate Planning Council 
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Sections: Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law
  • North Carolina State Bar  — Specialization Committee Member

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 2004
  • All state courts in North Carolina
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

About Me

When he is not working, Matt enjoys coaching his son's baseball, soccer, and flag football teams and attending his daughter's frequent ballet and theater performances.  He, his wife, and the kids attend St. James Episcopal Church and love sneaking off on their boat to a sandbar on summer afternoons. 

* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions:;; and

An attorney‑client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement. The content of any unsolicited email sent to Ward and Smith, P.A., or to any of its attorneys at an email address available on this website, will not create an attorney‑client relationship and the contents of such unsolicited email shall not be considered confidential. Therefore, do not use this website or the email addresses available on this website to provide confidential information about yourself or a legal matter to Ward and Smith or any of its attorneys.

  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Legal Elite Business North Carolina 2024
  • Super Lawyers 2021
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers 2023
  • U.S. News Best Lawyers 20234
  • 2024 Chambers USA

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