Kara Gansmann devotes her entire practice to elder law and estate planning in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner LLP (Cranfill Sumner).  Kara is especially well-suited for this practice thanks to her strong interpersonal skills, her diplomatic demeanor, and pragmatic approach to problem-solving.  She brings a solid sense of collegiality to her work with both clients and professionals, alike.

In private consultations, Kara counsels individuals and families on tactics for estate planning, asset-protection, and long-term care planning.  Kara drafts wills, powers of attorney, and trusts, including pet trusts, revocable and irrevocable living trusts, and special needs trusts. Kara also advises clients on eligibility for certain public benefits like Veterans’ Special Pension and prepares applications for Medicaid and Special Assistance.

In the courtroom, Kara represents clients trust and estate administration matters, will caveats, guardianship/incompetency proceedings, and fiduciary litigation.  Kara also represents clients in administrative hearings for denials of public benefits such as Medicaid.

Kara leads a team of experienced professionals who offer clients additional efficiency in legal transactions.  These paralegals assist clients in matters ranging from probate to care-giver agreements or promissory notes to real estate deed transactions intended for asset protection. Kara’s team also includes a certified geriatric care senior advisor, who assists with placement in care facilities.  Kara’s entire team understands the urgency and stress associated with elders’ needs.

Prior to joining Cranfill Sumner, Kara served as a staff attorney on an appellate court in Houston, Texas.  There, she managed all aspects of complex civil and criminal appellate matters and drafted over 200 judicial opinions for court justices in six years.  Because of this unique experience, Kara advises her litigation clients on effective trial strategies for successful appeals.

Kara frequently presents on elder law issues to community organizations, churches, and neighborhood associations across Southeastern North Carolina.  She is a prolific writer on legal issues affecting seniors.  She is also a devoted mother, wife, daughter, sister, and niece to all the important people in her life.

Representative Matters

Cases or matters referenced do not represent the attorney’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results.

  • Obtained guardianships on behalf of out-of-state and in-state clients to protect family members with dementia
  • Obtained guardianships on behalf of clients to protect family members with mental illness
  • Obtained Medicaid-compliant annuities to assist community spouses
  • Obtained Medicaid eligibility and approval for single clients and married clients
  • Obtained an Order in estate administration that required an executor to return to the estate legal fees, commissions, and other administrative costs estimated to be in excess of $100,000 based on inaccurate inventories and accountings filed during probate.
  • Assisted in successful defense on appeal of a trial court’s dismissal of legal malpractice claims against an attorney on grounds that the attorney was judicially immune as a quasi-judicial officer when he served as a court-appointed commissioner to oversee the partition sale of real property owned by the a plaintiff as a co-tenant.

Articles, Presentations, and Publications

  • Presenter, “Durable Powers of Attorney Insights” and “Advanced Directive Tips: making Healthcare Wishes Explicit,” for National Business Institute’s CLE “Estate Planning: Top 7 Tools to Know” (June 17, 2019, Wilmington, North Carolina)
  • Presenter, “Medicaid: New Rules in Benefits, Eligibility, and More” for National Business Institute’s CLE  (June 12, 2019, 90-minute, nation-wide webinar)
  • Featured in NC Lawyer, “Renaissance Woman: World Traveler, Lawyer, Writer, Volunteer Kara Gansmann Can’t Be Stopped,” by Russel Rawlings (August 2018)
  • Presenter, “Documenting Long-Term Care, Incapacity, and End-of-Life Decisions,” for National Business Institute’s CLE “Step-by-Step Guide to Drafting Wills and Trusts” (June 18, 2018, Wilmington, North Carolina)
  • Author of manuscripts, “Marshalling Assets: Key Complications,” and “Creditors’ Claims Frustrations,” presented by Andrew W. Olsen for the National Business Institute’s CLE, “Top Challenges in Estate Administration” (May 10, 2018, Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Author of manuscript, “Medicaid Planning Strategies,” presented by Andrew W. Olsen for the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law & Special Needs Basics CLE (October 27, 2017, Cary, North Carolina)
  • Presenter, The New North Carolina Power of Attorney Act, Cranfill Sumner Firm Seminar (November 9, 2017, Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Author of manuscript, “Medicaid Estate Recovery” presented by Andrew W. Olsen for National Business Institute’s CLE “Medicaid Update 2017” (November 7, 2017, Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Author, How Seniors Can Afford Long Term Care Without Spending Their Life Savings, Business North Carolina (August 2017)
  • Author of manuscript for CLE “What are Trusts? Main Trust Principles” as presented by Andrew W. Olsen for National Business Institute’s CLE “Trusts from A to Z” (June 30, 2017, Wilmington, North Carolina)
  • Kara is a regular contributor to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal Insights column.
  • Author, A Retailer’s Guide to Use of Video Surveillance Evidence to Defend itself in Litigation, The Retailer magazine (2017)
  • Presenter, Liability Issues with Free-Speech Rights in the Workplace, Cranfill Sumner Firm Seminar (October 2016, Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Author, The Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Corporations to Opt Out of Contraceptive Mandate in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014)
  • Author, Government Speech. It’s What’s for Dinner, 82 N.D. L. Rev. 519 (2006)




Can’t say enough positive things about Kara Gansmann and the Wilmington office team."
J.C.L. 8/15/2017
Your work and that of your associates is much appreciated!"
M.S. 11/26/2018
It was extremely easy and pleasant to work with you and your team. You LISTENED to me and HEARD what I wanted. Your suggestions regarding improvements to the estate documents were on point and appreciated. Most of all, I appreciated the timeliness of the work. It was done on time and the team got it right the first time. Thanks again. "
S.M. 7/31/2018
Thank you for your help and efficiency probating my husband’s estate. You and your team have been incredibly helpful and very supportive during this difficult time. "
E.W. 2/20/2019
Kara, thank you so much for the packet of wills and assorted forms that I picked up yesterday. We really enjoyed working with you; you had great ideas and excellent insight into what we wanted and needed. It was a pleasure doing business with Cranfill Sumner. "
E.L. 3/13/2019
I am so glad you prepared my estate plan. I knew when I attended your presentation you would be a person I would enjoy working with and that certainly was the case. So much thanks and kudos to you! "
C.N. 3/15/2019
I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done. It means the world to me. I really appreciate you giving me the confidence to complete everything. I finalized everything today and I’m done! "
A.L. 3/19/2019
I have enjoyed working with you and have greatly appreciated all of your time, thoroughness, and understanding!!! Your professionalism, care, and diligence set you apart."
A.H. 11/10/2019
It was certainly our pleasure and good fortune to have such good legal representation on Mom's behalf in this matter. We are very pleased with the overall outcome and your commitment to successfully wade through the myriad of details and voluminous governmental "red-tape" wrapped around this matter to bring this to conclusion. Our fingers are crossed that we will not require further services, however, if we do, I will be calling on you again to work your magic."
J.W. 8/31/2020

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