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News & Notes

Current events and annoucements within our firm are posted to this section and updated periodically. We encourage you to revisit this page at your convenience for the latest updates.


Doris R. Bray and Barbara R. Christy named Lawyers of the Year in 2015 Best Lawyers in America©

Barbara Christy has been chosen as Greensboro Lawyer of the Year in the area of Real Estate Law. She has been named to the Best Lawyers  listing since 2005 in the area of Real Estate Law.

Doris Bray has been chosen as Greensboro Lawyer of the Year in the area of Corporate Law. She has been named to the Best Lawyers listing since 1989 in the areas of Corporate Law, Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Securities/Capital Markets Law and Securities Regulation.

After more than a quarter of a century in publication, Best Lawyers designates “Lawyers of the Year” in high-profile legal specialties in large legal communities. Only a single lawyer in each specialty in each community is being honored as the “Lawyer of the Year.”

The lawyers being honored as “Lawyers of the Year” have received particularly high rating in The Best Lawyers’ survey by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.

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Eleven Schell Bray members named to the 2015 edition of Best Lawyers in America©

We are pleased that Schell Bray has had members of the firm listed in Best Lawyers© for more than twenty five years. Our listed attorneys this year are:

Michael R. Abel for Corporate Law, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law and Tax Law

Holly H. Alderman for Real Estate Law

Doris R. Bray for Corporate Law, Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law, Mergers & Acquisitions Law, Securities/Capital Markets Law and Securities Regulation

Barbara R. Christy for Real Estate Law

Michael H. Godwin for Trusts and Estates

Garland G. Graham for Corporate Law

Amy H. Kincaid for Trusts and Estates

J. Craig Kiser for Real Estate Law

Jennifer L.J. Koenig for Trusts and Estates

Paul H. Livingston, Jr. for Trusts and Estates

Thomas C. Watkins for Banking and Finance Law, and Corporate Law

Best Lawyers is one of the oldest and most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

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Barbara R. Christy Named 2014 Leaders in the Law by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly

North Carolina Lawyers Weekly will recognize Barbara R. Christy, a partner with Schell Bray, as a recipient of the 2014 Leaders in the Law. The award presentation will take place at the fourth annual Leaders in the Law awards event on Friday, September 19th in Raleigh.

Lawyers Weekly established the Leaders in the Law to honor legal professionals who go above and beyond in their profession and their community. The honorees represent the most influential individuals within our state’s legal community.

Barbara Christy’s practice focuses on commercial real estate transactions. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Real Property Law – Business, Commercial and Industrial Transactions by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Ms. Christy received her J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

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Schell Bray’s Amy Kincaid Named NCBA Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section Vice Chair

Attorney Amy H. Kincaid has been appointed Vice Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section for 2014-2015. She served as the Section’s Treasurer for 2013-2014.

The Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section has more than 1,200 members, sponsors CLE programs and services and provides members with a substantive newsletter. Ms. Kincaid regularly counsels clients on a wide variety of income tax, estate planning, estate administration, and charitable giving issues. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

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Schell Bray’s Dori Wiggen Named NCBA Elder and Special Needs Law Section Vice Chair

Attorney Dori J. Wiggen has been appointed Vice Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Elder & Special Needs Law Section for 2014-2015. In addition, Ms. Wiggen is scheduled to serve as Elder and Special Needs Law Section Chair in 2015-16. She served as the Section’s CLE Chair for 2013-14.

The Elder & Special Needs Law Section focuses on issues related to the elderly population of North Carolina i.e., Medicare and Medicaid. The section, currently with 550 members, sponsors CLE programs and services; provides members with a substantive newsletter, Gray Matters; and helps mold the association's legislative agenda for presentation to the N.C. General Assembly. Ms. Wiggen’s practice concentrates on elder law, special needs, and trusts and estates. She counsels clients on issues including special needs planning, guardianships, Medicaid, veterans benefits, wills, trusts, estate administration, probate, powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney, and living wills. 

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Amy H. Kincaid panelist at the NC Bar Association Program

Amy H. Kincaid, a member of the Schell Bray Trusts and Estates Practice Group, was a panelist at the NC Bar Association’s 35th Annual Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Program in Kiawah Island, SC on July 19, 2014. Ms. Kincaid’s topic was “Practical Portability Panel – Ins and Outs and Advising When a Client Dies”.

Amy Kincaid regularly counsels clients on a wide variety of estate planning and tax issues. Ms. Kincaid is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. She received her J.D. degree with high honors and Order of the Coif from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law in 1998.

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What Does Portability of the Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Mean for You?

June 2014

By Amy Kincaid

What is the estate and gift tax exemption?

The estate tax is a tax on the transfer of your property at death.  The gift tax is a tax on the transfer of property during your lifetime.  The estate and gift tax exemption is the amount you can transfer to individuals other than your spouse free of estate and gift taxes during your lifetime or at your death (Generally speaking, you can transfer as much as you want to your spouse without incurring estate and gift taxes).  The estate and gift tax exemption was $1 million in 2002-2003, $1.5 million in 2004-2005, $2 million in 2006-2008, $3.5 million in 2009,$5 million or more in 2010 and 2011 (note: there were special rules for decedents dying in 2010); $5.12 million in 2012, $5.25 million in 2013 and $5.34 million in 2014.

What is portability? 

Portability is the name for a concept that allows the surviving spouse of a decedent to inherit his or her estate and gift tax exemption.  It means that a couple can pass, in 2014, up to $10.68 million in assets to their intended beneficiaries without having to set up a trust. 

Is there a cost to elect portability? 

Yes.  A Federal estate tax return (Form 706) must be filed at the death of the first spouse to die, and the IRS has the ability to review that return until the inherited estate and gift tax exemption is used by the surviving spouse.  It can be costly and time consuming to file Form 706.

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The New NC Limited Liability Company Act

January 2014

By Stacey A. Brady

The new NC LLC Act, Chapter 57D of the North Carolina General Statutes (the “New Act”), went into effect on January 1, 2014 and replaces Chapter 57C of the North Carolina General Statutes (the “Old Act”).  The New Act draws largely from the premise that the agreement among the owners of a limited liability company (an “LLC”) should be paramount in governing their relationship.  It is, therefore, now more important than ever that an LLC have an operating agreement.  Except for certain limited provisions listed in Section 57D-2-30 of the New Act (many of which deal with administrative matters within the purview of the Secretary of State),  the owners of an LLC are free to override the default provisions of the Act and dictate the terms of their business relationship through their operating agreement.  Considering this expanded flexibility and the revised default provisions of the New Act, below are eight reasons why owners of an LLC should consider adopting a written operating agreement (if they don’t already have one) or reviewing and updating their existing operating agreement.  This list is by no means an exhaustive list of the changes in the New LLC Act, but merely highlights some considerations for members of an LLC that is formed under North Carolina law.  The following bulleted items are discussed in more detail in the sections below:

·         Possible problems under the New Act with oral or implied agreements among members.

·         Definitional changes in the New Act that may impact existing operating agreements. 

·         Inconsistencies between an LLC’s Articles of Organization and its operating agreement.

·         Changes in the New Act affecting professional LLCs and L3Cs.

·         Provisions in the New Act that permit the direct issuance of economic interests (interests with less than full membership rights) and that address valuation of non-cash capital contributions.

·         Expanded flexibility under the New Act for structuring management rights and delegating management authority.

·         Changes in the New Act that may affect fiduciary duties, indemnification, and exculpation of managers.

·         Revised provisions in the New Act addressing a member’s right to information.

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Amy H. Kincaid speaks at NC Bar Association Program

Amy H. Kincaid, a member of the Schell Bray Trusts and Estates Practice Group, and a partner in the firm, spoke on May 9, 2014 at the NC Bar Association’s 2014 Advanced Estate Planning Survey Course, which was presented live and via webcast. Ms. Kincaid’s topic was “Portability: Simplification or Complication”.

Amy Kincaid regularly counsels clients on a wide variety of estate planning, estate administration, and charitable giving issues. Ms. Kincaid is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. She is President of the Greensboro Estate Planning Council, Treasurer of the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and a member of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. She received her B.S. degree from Clemson University and her J.D. degree, with high honors, from the University of North Carolina School of Law. 

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Garland G. Graham Named 2014 Citizen Lawyer by the North Carolina Bar Association

The North Carolina Bar Association will recognize Garland G. Graham, a partner with Schell Bray, as a recipient of the 2014 Citizen Lawyer Award. The award presentation will take place at the NCBA’s annual meeting, scheduled for June in Wilmington.

The NCBA established the Citizen Lawyer Award in 2007 to recognize attorneys who provide outstanding public service for their communities. As a recipient, Graham joins a select group of distinguished leaders in the North Carolina legal community. Recipients have included elected and appointed government officials, coaches, mentors, and voluntary leaders of non-profit, civic and community organizations.

Ms. Graham’s community activities include her founding in 2006 of the Red Dog Farm Animal Rescue Network, a North Carolina nonprofit rescue network that is dedicated to the rehabilitation, fostering and adoption of abused and neglected animals of all sizes, including farm animals. The organization is a 501(c)(3) public charity and has taken in over 1,700 animals to date.

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