.2305 Standards for Certification as a Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law
Each applicant for certification as a specialist in estate planning and probate law shall meet the minimum standards set forth in Rule .1720 of this subchapter. In addition, each applicant shall meet the following standards for certification as a specialist in estate planning and probate law:
(a) Licensure and Practice - An applicant shall be licensed and in good standing to practice law in North Carolina as of the date of application. An applicant shall continue to be licensed and in good standing to practice law in North Carolina during the period of certification.
(b) Substantial Involvement - The applicant shall affirm to the board that the applicant has experience through substantial involvement in the practice of estate planning and probate law.
(1) Substantial involvement shall be measured as follows:
(A) Time Spent - During the five years preceding the application, the applicant has devoted an average of at least 500 hours a year to the practice of estate planning and probate law, but not less than 400 hours in any one year;
(B) Experience Gained - During the five years immediately preceding application, the applicant shall have had continuing involvement in a substantial portion of the activities described in each of the following paragraphs:
(i) counseled persons in estate planning, including giving advice with respect to gifts, life insurance, wills, trusts, business arrangements and agreements, and other estate planning matters;
(ii) prepared or supervised the preparation of (1) estate planning instruments, such as simple and complex wills (including provisions for testamentary trusts, marital deductions and elections), revocable and irrevocable inter vivos trusts (including short-term and minor's trusts), business planning agreements (including buy-sell agreements and employment contracts), powers of attorney and other estate planning instruments; and (2) federal and state gift tax returns, including representation before the Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue in connection with gift tax returns;
(iii) handled or advised with respect to the probate of wills and the administration of decedents' estates, including representation of the personal representative before the clerk of superior court, guardianship, will contest, and declaratory judgment actions;
(iv) prepared, reviewed or supervised the preparation of federal estate tax returns, North Carolina inheritance tax returns, and federal and state fiduciary income tax returns, including representation before the Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue in connection with such tax returns and related controversies.
(2) Practice shall mean substantive legal work done primarily for the purpose of legal advice or representation, or a practice equivalent.
(3) Practice equivalent shall mean
(A) receipt of an LL.M. degree in taxation or estate planning and probate law (or such other related fields approved by the specialty committee and the board from an approved law school) may be substituted for one year of experience to meet the five-year requirement;
(B) service as a trust officer with a corporate fiduciary having duties primarily in the area of estate and trust administration, may be substituted for one year of experience to meet the five-year requirement;
(C) service as a law professor concentrating in the teaching of taxation or estate planning and probate law (or such other related fields approved by the specialty committee and the board). Such service may be substituted for one year of experience to meet the five-year requirement.
(c) Continuing Legal Education - An applicant must have earned no less than 72 hours of accredited continuing legal education (CLE) credits in estate planning and probate law during the three years preceding application. Of the 72 hours of CLE, at least 45 hours shall be in estate planning and probate law (provided, however, that eight of the 45 hours may be in the related areas of elder law, Medicaid planning, and guardianship), and the balance may be in designated related fields. A list of the topics that qualify as related-field CLE shall be maintained by the board on its official website.
(d) Peer Review - An applicant must make a satisfactory showing of qualification through peer review. An applicant must provide the names of ten lawyers or judges, all of whom are familiar with the competence and qualification of the applicant in the specialty field. Written peer reference forms will be sent by the board or the specialty committee to each of the references. Completed peer reference forms must be received from at least five of the references. All references must be licensed and in good standing to practice in North Carolina. An applicant consents to the confidential inquiry by the board or the specialty committee of the submitted references and other persons concerning the applicant's competence and qualification.
(1) A reference may not be related by blood or marriage to the applicant nor may the reference be a partner or associate of the applicant at the time of the application.
(2) The references shall be given on standardized forms provided by the board with the application for certification in the specialty field. These forms shall be returned directly to the specialty committee.
(e) Examination - The applicant must pass a written examination designed to test the applicant's knowledge and ability in estate planning and probate law.
(1) Terms - The examination shall be in written form and shall be given annually. The examination shall be administered and graded uniformly by the specialty committee.
(2) Subject Matter - The examination shall test the applicant’s knowledge and application of the law of estate planning and probate. A list of the topics covered on the exam shall be maintained by the board on its official website.
History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23
Readopted Effective December 8, 1994
Amendments Approved by the Supreme Court: October 9, 2008; June 9, 2016