The Law Offices of James C. Hardin III, PLLC

The Law Offices of James C. Hardin III, PLLC

North & South Carolina Trust and Estate Attorneys

Firm Overview

With offices in Charlotte and Rock Hill, James C. Hardin III, PLLC is a boutique law firm providing exceptional legal representation for high net worth individuals in the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration, business succession and charitable planning for clients throughout North and South Carolina. Other primary areas of focus include asset protection planning and serving as an expert in trust and estate cases both at depositions and at trial.

Firm principal James C. (Jim) Hardin III is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He has consistently been named one of the Best Lawyers in America in the area of trusts and estates, as well as Business North Carolina Legal Elite, a North Carolina Super Lawyer and a South Carolina Super Lawyer. In 1986, in recognition of his significant contributions to the area of trust and estate law, Mr. Hardin was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a nonprofit organization comprised of the nation's premier trust and estate counselors. Mr. Hardin is also the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell's prestigious "AV Preeminent" Rating, indicating that peers rank him at preeminent levels of professionalism and ethical standards.

Formerly the Chair of the Wealth Transfer Department of Charlotte's largest law firm, Mr. Hardin established his own firm in 2005 to provide highly personalized client service in a practice devoted solely to his areas of expertise. We welcome your inquiry regarding your trust and estate matter. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.
Main Office
Main Office
6135 Park South Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte  NC  28210
  • (704) 944-4286
  • (803) 329-8121
Estate Planning
Estate and Business Succession Planning
With offices in Charlotte and Rock Hill, attorneys at the Law Offices of James C. Hardin III, P.L.L.C. have substantial experience in providing the full breadth of estate planning and trust and probate administration services for clients in North Carolina and South Carolina.

We carefully consider the needs and goals of our client in preparing every estate plan, and provide comprehensive, tax-sensitive estate planning documents individually tailored to each client. As part of the estate planning process we prepare:
-Revocable Living Trusts
-Durable Powers of Attorney
-Advance Medical Directives, including Living Wills
-Beneficiary Designations for retirement assets
-Generation-Skipping Trusts
-Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
-Special Needs Trusts

We also provide a wealth of ancillary legal services attendant to estate planning and probate matters, including:
-An analysis of the proper and improper use of the various probate avoidance techniques
-Ensuring property is properly titled and trusts are appropriately funded
-Providing a plan for the possibility of subsequent incapacity or disability

Tax Planning:
Tax planning is an inherent part of the estate planning process, and we advise our clients on estate planning strategies to minimize income, gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes. We advise clients regarding:
-Gifting strategies, including use of the annual gift tax exclusion
-Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts
-Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
-Planning involving retirement benefit accounts, including the use of Conduit Trusts to avoid accelerating distributions from qualified retirement plans and IRAs

Business Succession Planning:
We are frequently brought into the planning process when a closely held business is being sold or when a family member is retiring from the business and wants to explore business succession planning options. We structure tax saving strategies to facilitate the orderly transfer of control and wealth to successive generations, including Buy/Sell Agreements and utilizing advanced planning techniques such as gifts of fractionalized interests, including sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts.

Charitable Planning:
We advise clients with charitable inclinations on ways to maximize the tax benefits of their contribution. Firm principal Jim Hardin prepared Duke University's charitable giving forms, and has extensive experience in the area of charitable planning, including:
-Charitable Remainder Trusts
-Charitable Lead Trusts
-Private Foundations
-Charitable Gift Annuities
-Donor Advised Funds
-Forming and representing charitable organizations

Asset Protection:
In today's litigious society high-net worth individuals are increasingly concerned about asset protection planning. We advise clients regarding:
-Limited Liability Companies
-Family Limited Partnerships
-Corporate entities
-Irrevocable Trusts
-Multi-generational "Dynasty" Trusts
-Trusts naming a third party "Special Trustee" or "Trust Protector"

Planning for Disability or Incapacity:
A comprehensive estate plan takes into consideration the possibility of a client's subsequent incapacity. Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives serve to protect our clients against subsequent incapacity. We have significant experience in the area of planning for incapacity, and routinely advise clients on elder law issues, including planning considerations, and representation in conservatorship matters. We also prepare and administer Special Needs Trusts, which are trusts that are designed to ensure continued eligibility for government benefits for a disabled or incapacitated beneficiary.

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel:
Estate planning matters require counsel with specialized knowledge. Firm principal Jim Hardin is named on regional and national "best of" tax and estate planning attorney lists, frequently speaks on estate planning and probate matters before attorneys and other professionals, has served in state and national attorney associations and committees focusing on estate planning and probate issues, has represented clients and served as an expert in cases involving estate planning probate and tax issues before state and federal courts, and has been actively involved in drafting and lobbying for many of the statutory provisions addressing estate tax, probate, trust and related matters in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Probate & Trust Administration
Our attorneys and paralegals have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle the administration of the largest and most complicated estates. Firm principal Jim Hardin has administered an estate with business assets in excess of $100 million, located in multiple states. He also administered the $80 million estate of a deceased South Carolina resident, which entailed establishing a blockage discount for estate tax purposes, negotiating a sale of some of the decedent's shares back to the issuing company to raise funds to pay the estate tax, and negotiating a Family Settlement Agreement.

Our attorneys are assisted by a team of highly qualified and experienced paralegals, with a combined 40 years of experience, to provide efficient trust, estate and probate administration services.

Probate and Estate Administration:
We frequently represent personal representatives of a decedent's estate in connection with trust, estate and probate administration, including the preparation and filing of documents with the court; asset management, including arranging for appraisals and valuations; tax planning, including advice regarding the use of disclaimers and other post-death estate and income tax savings techniques; and preparation of any required tax returns.

Trust Administration:
In addition to providing representation and assistance with post-mortem trust administration after the death of a trustor, we also provide assistance with trust administration during the lifetime of the trustor, including advising our clients regarding the use of notices to beneficiaries when a gift has been made to an irrevocable trust (which are referred to as Crummey notices after the definitive case in this area), and preparation and filing of gift tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns.

We advise our clients regarding any issue arising during the administration of a trust, including:
-The duties, powers and standards of a trustee
-Trustee accounting and recordkeeping
-Investing and managing trust assets
-Resignation or removal of a trustee
-Modification, revocation or termination of a trust
-Creditor's rights against the trust or beneficiaries
-Subtrust funding
-Trustee compensation and attorneys' fees
-Income taxation of trusts
-Preparation of gift, generation-skipping transfer tax and estate tax returns

Tax Controversies and Audits:
We also represent clients in tax controversies, including IRS and state estate, gift, and income tax controversies. Jim Hardin has handled many estate tax audits involving complex tax issues and significant assets, including the audit of a $150 million estate.

Trust & Estate Disputes
In the event a dispute arises during the course of the administration of an estate, litigation may be necessary. We routinely advise clients in disputes involving a trust or estate, and are prepared to participate in the prosecution or defense of cases involving:
-Will or trust contests
-Allegations of a breach of fiduciary duty
-Trust termination and modification proceedings
-Objections to accountings
-Lawsuits seeking to remove or substitute a trustee or executor

Firm principal Jim Hardin is also certified to mediate trust and estate disputes and litigation.

Expert Witness:
Jim Hardin has served as an expert in approximately 30 matters involving trust, estate and taxation issues in depositions and at trial. For further information on Mr. Hardin's experience as an expert witness, and to view a representative sample of the cases in which he has served as an expert, please see the Expert Witness page.

James C. (Jim) Hardin III

Firm Principal

For over 37 years Jim Hardin has devoted his legal career to complex estate planning matters, including charitable giving, business succession, asset protection, probate, trust administration, and serving as an expert witness in trust and estate litigation matters. Mr. Hardin is a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law in North and South Carolina. He is an elected fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and has been selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America in Trusts and Estates since 1987, a South Carolina Super Lawyer, in Business North Carolina Legal Elite and a North Carolina Super Lawyer numerous times, including selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in 2006. He also holds Martindale-Hubbell's highest AV-Preeminent rating, indicating preeminent legal ability and the highest ethical standards.

Mr. Hardin has a wealth of experience in complex estate planning matters. His representative matters include planning a $50 million estate for a North Carolina real estate developer, involving establishing multi-generational trusts, and estates including family limited partnerships and limited liability companies for purpose of intergenerational wealth transfers and asset protection. Mr. Hardin also has particular expertise in the area of charitable planning, including the preparation of charitable lead and remainder trusts and the establishment of private foundations. He was retained to revise Duke University's charitable giving forms.

Mr. Hardin also has experience in administering estates involving significant assets. He administered the $80 million estate of a deceased South Carolina resident, which entailed establishing a blockage discount for estate tax purposes, negotiating a sale of some of the decedent's shares back to the issuing company to raise funds to pay the estate tax, and negotiating a Family Settlement Agreement. He also assisted in the administration of an estate with business assets in excess of $100 million located in several states. Mr. Hardin has served as an expert witness in approximately 30 estate tax and trust cases in both state and federal courts.

Mr. Hardin is frequently called upon to share his expertise with other attorneys and specialists as a speaker on estate planning matters, including the Uniform Trust Code, estate and gift taxation, trusts and estates income taxation, and trust administration. He is also a published author and has helped sculpt estate planning laws in North and South Carolina. Mr. Hardin served as one of several South Carolina Bar liaisons to the General Assembly during its consideration and subsequent adoption of the South Carolina Uniform Trust Code in 2005, the Uniform Principal and Income Act in 2001, the South Carolina Prudent Investor Act in 2001, and the South Carolina Probate Code in 1986.

-J.D., with distinction, Duke University School of Law, 1974
-M.A., University of Virginia, 1970
-B. A., magna cum laude, Wofford College, 1969

-South Carolina Bar, 1974
-North Carolina State Bar, 1989
-South Carolina Supreme Court
-North Carolina Supreme Court
-U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
-U.S. District Court for the for the District of South Carolina
-U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina

-South Carolina Certified Specialist, Estate Planning and -Probate Law, 1986 - present
-North Carolina Certified Specialist, Estate Planning and Probate Law, 2004- present
-Certified South Carolina Circuit Court Mediator, 2006 - present

Honors & Awards:
-Best Lawyers in America, Trusts & Estates, 1987 - present
-South Carolina Super Lawyer, 2009 - present
-North Carolina Super Lawyer, 2006 - present
-Top 100, 2006
-Elected Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, 1986 - present
-South Carolina State Chair, 2001-2006
-Legal Elite, Business North Carolina Magazine, 2005, 2010
  • Duke University School of Law
    Juris Doctorate, with distinction , 1974

Frederick W. (Freddy) Faircloth, IV


Freddy Faircloth joined the law firm of James C. Hardin III, PLLC in 2011 as an associate. His practice focuses in the areas of taxation, corporate formation and dissolution, business succession planning, asset protection, estate planning, probate, trusts, and non profit and tax-exempt organizations. Mr. Faircloth is particularly focused on representing businesses and their owners, and he joins the firm with seven years of technical and practical experience representing a range of businesses. Prior to starting his legal career, Mr. Faircloth earned his Masters of Laws in Taxation from The University of Florida.

-LL.M., University of Florida, 2004, Taxation
-J.D., cum laude, University of South Carolina School of Law, 2003
-B.S., cum laude, Clemson University, 2000, Accounting, minor in Political Science

-The South Carolina Bar, 2003
-The North Carolina State Bar, 2005

Honors & Awards:
-South Carolina Law Review
-Arthur B. Custy Tax Award, University of South Carolina School of Law
-John Belton O'Neall Inn of Court
-Order of the Wig and Robe

Professional Associations & Activities:
-American Bar Association
-The North Carolina Bar Association
-The South Carolina Bar
-Member, South Carolina Bar Tax Section Council, 2010 - present
-York County Bar Association

Civic Activities:
-Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) Session 2011-Present
-Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation Board of Directors, 2005-Present
-York County Community Foundation Board of Directors, 2008-Present
-York County Disabilities Foundation Board of Directors, 2007-Present (Vice-Chair)
-Rock Hill Country Club Board of Directors, 2009-Present (Treasurer)
-Rock Hill Rotary Club Board of Directors, 2007-2010
-York County Clemson Club Board of Directors, 2007-Present
-York County Chamber Small Business Council, 2010-Present
-Smiles for a Lifetime Rock Hill Advisory Board, 2010-Present
  • University of South Carolina School of Law
    Juris Doctorate, cum laude , 2003