Paul M. Hattenhauer is a partner with Culp Elliott & Carpenter, P.L.L.C. and is chair of the firm’s Estate Planning practice group. Paul’s practice encompasses business succession planning, tax, estate planning, and estate and trust administration. He also assists clients in achieving their philanthropic objectives through the use of various charitable giving structures, including private foundations, supporting organizations, and charitable remainder trusts.

Paul has extensive experience in implementing sophisticated estate plans for high net worth individuals, closely-held business owners and their families. These plans are tailored to allow the client to pay the least amount of tax within the context of the family’s overall goals and objectives, and include the use of trusts, limited liability companies and charitable entities.

In addition, Paul counsels trustees, executors, and beneficiaries regarding all aspects of trust and estate administration, including the preparation and filing of gift tax returns and estate tax returns, judicial and non-judicial modifications of irrevocable trusts, and trust decantings. He has substantial experience handling IRS gift and estate tax audits.

Paul also regularly represents clients in general business and tax matters. He provides legal advice on entity selection and organization; partnership, limited liability company and shareholders agreements, including buy sell agreements; employment, non-competition and non-disclosure agreements; and federal and state tax matters.


  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (2013-2022), in the specialties of Tax Law
  • AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale Hubbell (highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards)
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (2013-2022) – Tax Law
  • Business North Carolina Legal Elite, Tax and Estate Planning (2011)
  • Selected for inclusion in North Carolina Super Lawyers® List (2007, 2010-2022)
  • Represent numerous ultra-high net worth families in all aspects of business succession planning, estate planning, sophisticated estate tax reduction strategies including grantor trust sales, GRATs, and charitable entities, resulting in the tax-free transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to the next generation.
  • Represent several closely-held information technology engineering businesses with respect to the negotiation and drafting of master services agreements, statements of work, and non-disclosure agreements.
  • Successfully modified a 1960’s era irrevocable trust through a court judicial reformation proceeding to avoid additional estate tax on millions of dollars of assets.
  • Represented the executor in a Federal estate tax audit of a large taxable estate involving complex family business entities, hard to value collectibles, and numerous valuation issues, resulting in a less than one percent (1%) adjustment to the amount of estate tax owed.
  • Implemented a sophisticated charitable structure, including the use of a supporting organization, to achieve a client’s business succession planning and philanthropic goals.
  • Represented a large family office from inception, including the planning and creation of a structure to provide business, tax compliance, and investment management services to dozens of family members and entities on a tax-efficient basis.
  • Successfully obtained an IRS Private Letter Ruling to allow the personal representative of an estate to make a late portability election.
  • Planned and implemented a series of trust modifications and decantings to allow a senior family member to swap high basis assets for low basis assets prior to death to achieve multi-million dollar basis step up on family assets.
  • Represented the trustee of an irrevocable trust that received $25 million of life insurance proceeds in a dispute with the former trustee and family members relating to the control and distribution  of trust assets.
  • Represented a minority shareholder in a large multi-state family business with respect to business succession planning, exercise of minority shareholder rights under state law and governing documents, and estate planning.
  • Represented large regional real estate developer in all aspects of business structure to manage estate, gift, and income taxes, provide for charitable goals, and the protection of assets from claims of future creditors.


Speaking Engagements

  • Presenter, “Transfer Taxes: Estate Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes,” 2021 North Carolina Bar Association Estate Planning and Probate Law CLE, September 24, 2021
  • Co-Presenter, “The New Geometry of Estate Planning: Horizontal and Vertical Planning for Tax Basis Adjustments,” 2020 Annual North Carolina Bar Association Tax Section CLE, June 1, 2020
  • Presenter, “Installment Sales to Spousal Grantor Trusts,” North Carolina Bar Association’s 40th Annual Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Program, Kiawah Island, SC, July 26, 2019
  • Panelist, “Installment Sales to Spousal Grantor Trusts,” American Bar Association’s 2018 Fall Tax Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 5, 2018
  • Presenter, “Estate Planning and Business Valuation,” NCACPA 77th Annual Symposium, Greensboro, NC, November 2016
  • Co-Presenter, “How to Create Tax Exempt Wealth,” Lorman Education Services CLE, December 13, 2000


  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Fellow
  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law, North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization (1996-present)
  • Foundation for the Carolinas, Cabinet of Professional Advisors (2017-current)
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section
  • American Bar Association, Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section
  • Certified Public Accountant (Minnesota-Inactive)
  • Legislative Committee of the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association
  • Past member, Charlotte Estate Planning Council
  • Member, South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church
  • Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools Education Foundation Board Member 2010-2016, (Board Chair 2014-2015)
  • The Harvest Center of Charlotte, Board Member (2016-2019)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas (Big, 2018-current)