Virginia S. Carter

Trusts and Estates Attorney
Ward and Smith, P.A.
910.794.4834 Fax 910.794.4877
Post Office Box 7068, Wilmington, NC 28406-7068

Virginia counsels clients on all components of a complete estate plan, including wills, revocable living trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and living wills.  She also advises individuals, families, and closely-held business owners on business succession planning, irrevocable trust planning, charitable trusts, and other strategies to mitigate estate tax.  Virginia also provides guidance to executors and trustees navigating the administration of estates and trusts.  Virginia's experience also includes a wide range of business law matters and corporate transactional work.


  • J.D., with high honors, Duke University School of Law, 2009.  Order of the Coif.
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Washington and Lee University, 2004.

Representative Experience

  • Working with closely-held business owners on succession planning
  • Planning for blended families with QTIPs, postmarital agreements, and other strategies
  • Helping clients develop gifting strategies to mitigate estate tax, including spousal lifetime access trusts (SLATs), and irrevocable trusts for children, and generation-skipping transfer tax planning
  • Counseling clients on planning with IRAs, 401ks, and other retirement assets to reduce income taxes and maximize asset protection of these assets
  • Helping clients accomplish tax and charitable goals through charitable trust and gift planning
  • Assisting clients and their adult children in planning for incapacity or special needs
  • Counseling and assisting clients with judicial and nonjudicial options to modify irrevocable trusts to better align with current goals
  • Advising both fiduciaries and beneficiaries of estates and trusts in all aspects of estate and trust administration
  • Filing estate tax returns to preserve portability or in taxable estate situations

Honors and Distinctions*

  • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers®, 2022-2024
  • "Rising Star," North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2018-2020


Professional and Community Affiliations

  • American Bar Association — Division:  Young Lawyers
  • American Bar Association — Section: Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
  • Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (Leadership Wilmington Alumnus, Class of 2015)
  • Good Sheperd (board member)
  • North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Section: Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law
  • New Hanover County Bar Association (member, board of directors; president)
  • New Hanover County Estate Planning Council

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 2013
  • New York, 2010
  • All state courts in North Carolina

About Me

Each family is different.  I enjoy working with clients and their advisors to develop and refine their planning goals and tailor an estate plan for their individual circumstances.  I handle everything from the simplest estate plans for individuals and young families to complex plans for high-net-worth individuals with business and estate tax needs.  I believe that a good plan, executed well, is an amazing gift to your people.  It can save time, and reduce costs and stress at a time that is inherently stressful.  In addition, our firm is uniquely positioned to provide excellent assistance to entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors due to the depth of our corporate, real estate, employment law, and intellectual property practices, and I enjoy the opportunity to work with my partners to achieve the best results for our client.  Outside of work, you will find me reminding my kids how lucky they are to live so close to Wrightsville Beach. 

* 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

Subscribe to Ward and Smith