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Debra L. Foster is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and she currently serves on its North Carolina Nominating Committee. She focuses her practice on estate planning, estate administration and tax-exempt organizations matters. Debra is certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law, and for seven years she served on the North Carolina State Bar committee charged with the certification of qualified attorneys in this area of practice. In 2009 through 2010, Debra chaired the North Carolina State Bar Estate Planning and Probate Law Specialization Committee. Debra is a past Chair of the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, having served as its Vice-Chair, its Secretary, and as the Chair of the Section’s Continuing Legal Education Committee for two years. She now serves on the Section’s Ethics Committee. Debra recently completed her service on the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association. Shortly thereafter, she co-chaired the North Carolina Bar Association’s 4-A11 Task Force, charged with the provision of free legal advice to disadvantaged citizens throughout North Carolina. In 2011, Debra became an originator and a co-chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s new, comprehensive pro bono legal services endeavor, Call 4 All, through which North Carolina attorneys offer free counsel to those in need. From 2012-2015 Debra served on the Board of Directors of Legal Aid of North Carolina, the principal provider of legal services to those in financial need throughout North Carolina. For the past two years Debra has served as the chair of the Strategic Planning and Emerging Trends Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association. Debra is a member of the Charlotte Estate Planning Council and has lectured and continues to lecture extensively on matters pertaining to estate planning and charitable giving.
Debra was selected as one of Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite” in 2002 and has been so honored in each subsequent year, including 2017, when she was designated by her colleagues throughout North Carolina as the top estate planning attorney in North Carolina. North Carolina Superlawyer recognized Debra in 2005 (the magazine’s inaugural year) and in each year thereafter, including 2017, as a top estate planner in North Carolina and as one of the top 50 female attorneys throughout North Carolina in any area of practice and, in 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2010 as one of the top 100 lawyers in North Carolina in any area of practice. The Best Lawyers in America in 2007-2017 designated Debra as a top trusts and estates attorney in the United States and has consistently designated Debra’s firm as one of the nation’s top estate planning firms. Debra has also been recognized for her estate planning and philanthropic endeavors by the American Red Cross, which presented her with its Codicil Award in 2001. Active in charitable work and committed to her community, Debra has served as a member of the Board of Directors of a number of philanthropic organizations including Loaves and Fishes, Florence Crittenton Services, Children’s Theatre, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Debra is a founding member of the Women’s Impact Fund, where served as a member of the Board of Directors and its Treasurer. She is also a member of the Foundation for the Carolinas Cabinet of Professional Advisors, as well as a member of Queens University’s Planned Giving Advisory Council.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Debra received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, graduating in 1978 Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received her law degree in 1982 with honors, Debra served as a member of the North Carolina Law Review and the National Moot Court Team. She was honored with membership in the Order of the Coif recognizing those graduating in the top 10% of the class.
Previous to founding Debra L. Foster, PLLC, Debra was an equity partner with Parker, Poe, Adams and Bernstein and with Essex Richards, P.A. She was also a partner in Foster Kelly, P.A., opening the firm in October of 2006 with her friend and colleague, Lisa Kelly, who passed away on November 5, 2006.
Debra and her husband, Mike, have two children, a son who graduated from law school at UNC and is a practicing attorney in Charlotte, and a daughter who has both an undergraduate degree (math) and a Masters degree (math education) from Virginia Tech and who now teaches AP math Fairfax County, Virginia.