Jean Gordon Carter Partner

Jean’s practice focuses on estate planning and administration, tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving. She also regularly handles North Carolina tax matters.

She works with families and nonprofit organizations to create workable plans necessary to advance their economic and tax goals. For families this includes assisting with their estate planning and trusts, wealth transfers and estate administration needs. Further she works with tax-exempt, non-profit and charitable organizations, often as general counsel, but particularly with their tax and governance concerns, helping them handle effectively the complicated regulations and tax world they now face. She frequently handles North Carolina tax matters for individuals, corporations and other entities, often working with the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Jean is a Certified Public Accountant and Board-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate law.

She has been quoted in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reuters/CNBC and Best’s Review regarding tax and estate planning issues.


Advised on a full range of wealth transfer planning issues, including gift, estate, and generation-skipping taxes, trusts, charitable giving, and transfer tax leveraging and freezing.

Prepared numerous estate planning documents, including wills, living trusts, life insurance trusts, generation-skipping trusts, gifting trusts, trusts for minors, charitable trusts, GRATs, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies.

Advised numerous estates and trusts on administration, estate tax, fiduciary income tax, post-mortem and other planning.

Represented parties in will contests and fiduciary litigation.

Formed numerous charities, business leagues and other tax-exempt entities and secured federal, state and local tax exemptions and letter rulings.

Advised numerous tax-exempt entities, including public charities and private foundations, on private inurement, intermediate sanctions, excise taxes, unrelated business income tax, fundraising, planned giving, corporate governance, board responsibilities, board policies, endowments, and form 990.

Reorganized, including creating exempt and taxable affiliates, hospitals, trade associations and other exempt entities, and structured various joint ventures.

Advised on and litigated federal, North Carolina and local tax issues including property tax issues from local level through US Supreme Court.

Successfully lobbied various North Carolina legislative changes in tax and estates areas. 

  • Duke University School of Law, JD, High Honors, Order of the Coif; Editorial Board, Duke Law Journal, 1983
  • Wake Forest University, BS, magna cum laude, Honors in Accountancy, Carswell Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, 1977

Fellow, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Member Digital Property Task Force, Charitable Planning Committee

Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel

Fellow, American Bar Foundation

Former Chair, Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of North Carolina Bar Association

Former Board of Governors, North Carolina Bar Association

Chair, Duke University Estate Planning Council

Former President, Wake County Estate Planning Council

Leadership Council and Former Chair, Triangle Community Foundation

Former Chair, Girl Scouts ─ North Carolina Coastal Pines

  • Speaker, "Current Developments," 19th Annual Nonprofit Seminar: Lessons Learned, Opportunities Ahead – Planning Under Continuing Uncertainty, Raleigh, September – October 2022
  • Speaker, "Best Practices Related to Gift Acceptance Policies and Gift Agreements: In-Depth Discussion of Modification of Restricted and/or Endowed Gifts," 18th Annual Nonprofit Seminar: Navigating Through Uncertainty, November - December 2021
  • Speaker, What is Portability for Estate and Gift Tax?, ACTEC Family Estate Planning Guide, August 26, 2021
  • Speaker, "Your Charity is a Beneficiary: What Next?," 17th Annual Nonprofit Seminar: Staying Current in a Changing Landscape, September - November 2019
  • Speaker, "Dealing with Business Interests in Estates and Trusts," New Developments in Tax and Wealth Planning, September 12, 2019
  • Speaker, "Charitable Giving after the 2017 Tax Act," 16th Annual Nonprofit Seminar, October - November 2018
  • Speaker, "Planning Under the 2017 Tax Act," New Developments in Tax and Wealth Planning, April 24, 2018
  • Speaker, "Charitable Giving: A Potpourri" and "State and Local Tax and Regulatory Considerations for Nonprofits," 15th Annual Nonprofit Seminar: Back to Basics, September - November, 2017
  • Speaker, "What an Estate Planner (or Professional) Ought to Know about Tax Exempt Status," New Developments in Tax and Wealth Planning Seminar, April 2017
  • Speaker, "Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA)," 11th Annual Fiduciary Advisory Services Seminar, October 2016
  • Speaker, "Pixar for Estate Planners: Animating your Practice through Social Media and Forever Friending Your Client's Digital Assets - The Do's, Don't's and How To's of New Communication Channels," ACTEC Annual Meeting, March 2012
  • Moderator, "Practical Estate Planning After the 2010 Tax Relief Act: Big Changes, But Still no Certainty," Duke Estate Planning Conference, October 2011
  • Speaker, "Practical Approaches to the Current Estate Tax Uncertainty or a View from the Trenches," Duke Estate Planning Conference, October 2010
  • Speaker, "Multidisciplinary Practice: Panacea or Pandora’s Box," 21st Annual NCBAF Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Seminar, 2000
  • Speaker, "A Few Hot Topics in Health Care Tax," NCBAF Health Law Section Annual Meeting, 1999
  • Speaker, "Ethics: A View From the Trenches," 19th Annual NCBAF Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Seminar, 1998
  • Speaker, "The (Sometimes) Bumpy Road to Tax-Exempt Status and Keeping It," NCBAF Seminar on Tax-Exempt Organizations, 1997
  • Speaker, "North Carolina Property Taxes," NCBAF and NCACPA North Carolina State and Local Tax Conference, 1997, 1998
  • Speaker, "Creative Charitable Giving: Current and Planned," Not-for-Profit Conference sponsored by NCACPA and NC Center for Nonprofits, 1995
  • Speaker, "A Few Hot Audit Topics in the Tarheel State," 19th Annual Institute of Property Taxation Annual Meeting, Palm Springs, California, 1995
  • North Carolina

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Named to "North Carolina Super Lawyers,” Tax and Estate Planning, 2006-2023; Estate & Probate, 2017; Listed among the Top 100 Lawyers, 2006, 2008-2020; and Top 50 Women Lawyers, 2006-2020 and Top 25 Raleigh Lawyers, 2016-2020

Selected for inclusion in “Legal Elite,” Tax and Estate Planning, 2006-2011, 2013-2019; Hall of Fame, 2023, Business North Carolina

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Trusts and Estates, Woodward/White, Inc., 2006-2023

Selected for inclusion in “Legal 500 United States,” Not-for-profit: Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations, 2022

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Trusts and Estates, Raleigh, The Best Lawyers in America, 2022

Selected for inclusion, Private Wealth Law, Band 1, North Carolina, Chambers HNW Guide, 2017-2022

Selected for inclusion in “Legal 500 United States,” Not-for-profit: Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt Organizations, 2021

Named “Legal Elite - Lawyer of the Year,” Tax and Estate Planning, Business North Carolina, 2019

Named a "Divorce, Trusts and Estates Trailblazer," The National Law Journal, 2017

Named “Lawyer of the Year,” Raleigh, Best Lawyers, 2016

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