An individual's personal belongings, real estate holdings, and other possessions make up that person's estate. This estate is inherited by relatives, friends, and other entities when that person dies, usually according to the instructions left in a will. In the absence of a will, probate court decides how the estate is handled. Since death is a certainty, planning your estate early can ensure that it is handled according to your wishes. Click on a link below to learn more about North Carolina estate planning laws, including estate taxes; living wills; the probate process, and durable powers of attorney.