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 practices in the area of estate planning and estate administration.  She assists in the preparation of all components of estate plans, wills, revocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and living wills.  She also advises individuals, families, and closely-held business owners on estate and business succession planning issues, gift planning to reduce potential estate taxes, and the preparation of gift tax returns, as well as the administration of decedent's estates.  Virginia's practice experience also includes a wide range of business law matters and corporate transactions, including advising sponsors of, and investors in, private investment funds. 


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

Representative Experience

  • Drafting all components of estate plans, including wills, revocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and living wills
  • Handling all aspects of administering estates and trusts, advising both fiduciaries and beneficiaries
  • Advising individuals, families, and closely-held business owners on estate and business succession planning issues
  • Planning for blended family situations with QTIPs and other strategies
  • Advising clients on strategies for retirement assets to reduce income taxes and maximize asset protection of these assets
  • Modifying irrevocable trusts, including by judicial action, to meet a client's updated planning goals
  • Preparation of gift and estate tax returns

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

I counsel clients on various estate planning and administration matters.  Each family is different and I enjoy working with clients to tailor an estate plan to their individual circumstances.  I handle everything from the simplest estate plans for a young growing family, to plans for blended family scenarios, to planning for high net worth individuals with complex business and estate tax situations.  Our firm is uniquely positioned to provide excellent assistance to entrepreneurs due to the depth of our corporate, real estate, and intellectual property practices, and I enjoy the opportunity to work with my colleagues to implement a cohesive business succession plan and achieve the best results for our client.  In my free time, I take advantage of living at the coast – I love cooking and eating fresh seafood and spending time at the beach or on the water with my family.  

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

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  • 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

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