Christian Kelso | Farrow-Gillespie & Heath LLP | Dallas, TX

Estate Planning and Probate
Taxation
Business Law
Wealth Preservation and Trust Administration

Partner

Contact

Christian S. Kelso is a Partner at the Dallas law firm of Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP, where he practices in the areas of estate planning, wealth preservation and transfer, probate, tax and transactional corporate law.  His primary focus is finding practical solutions for families and businesses to avoid costly, and often heartbreaking disputes in both the courtroom and the living room.  Christian is a counselor who is dedicated to making the law work for his clients and helping them understand how best to address the legal issues they face.

Christian’s estate planning and wealth preservation practice involves both large and small estates, and is focused on crafting solutions that best achieve clients legal and personal goals.  Maintaining wealth is often more difficult than building it in the first place, particularly over successive generations.  While some clients’ planning can be relatively straightforward, others require sophisticated solutions that are tailor-made to suit each family’s needs.  Christian understands that no single solution is appropriate for all situations, and his experience and training allow him to skillfully craft individualized plans for a wide array of clients.  This process can be daunting, but Christian takes the time necessary to educate and familiarize clients with the tools available to them so they understand both why a particular solution makes sense and how it will fit into their lives.  Whether they are simply trying to protect their minor children, mitigate tax exposure, or shield assets from creditor claims, Christian strives to build the right plan for each client in a way that they can understand.

Where probate of an estate is required, Christian provides assistance and advice which is focused on minimizing litigation and intra-family disputes.  When proper planning is in place and other circumstances allow, this process can be straightforward and simple.  Other situations, however, can be more complicated.  The death of a loved one can often set an entire family at odds as emotions and tensions well up.  In situations like this, Christian is able to draw on both his personal and professional experience to ease family tensions and deploy appropriate legal strategies so that clients can move on with their lives.

Christian’s transactional corporate practice is focused on avoiding legal problems before they materialize.  He helps businesses develop solutions that mitigate risk, both in the form of legal exposure and tax.  Employing a full-time, in-house attorney can be expensive, but every business faces situations which are best addressed with the counsel of a trusted advisor.  Christian fills this roll by acting as general counsel on an as-needed basis and assisting with all manner of issues. 

Outside of his legal practice, Christian teaches Estate Planning and Practice at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.  He also serves as a facilitator and advisor for families wishing to implement family systems and governance.  His book, Building Your Castle: A practical guide for protecting your legacy, is available on Amazon and at www.christiankelso.com.  Christian is dedicated, as he puts it, to avoiding the disastrous ‘Family Power Vacuum’ that occurs when a family patriarch becomes disabled or passes away.

Christian S. Kelso is a native Dallasite, having attended St. Mark’s School of Texas for twelve years before moving on to the University of Texas at Austin.  Christian came back to Dallas for both his J.D. and LL.M. (Taxation), which he received at Southern Methodist University.  Christian is an active member of the community in North Texas, both legal and otherwise, and sits on various charitable boards and other governing bodies.  He speaks German fluently and lives in East Dallas with his wife and two children.

Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP | Dallas, TX

Practice Areas

  • Estate Planning
  • Taxation
  • Corporate Law
  • Probate

Former Experience

  • Malouf Nakos Jackson & Swinson, PC
  • Intern, Hon. Nikki DeShazo, Probate Court, Dallas County

Education

  • LL.M. (Taxation), Southern Methodist University, 2010
  •  J.D., Southern Methodist University, 2008
  •  B.A. (Germanic Studies and Business Foundations), The University of Texas at Austin, 2001
  • St. Mark’s School of Texas (Twelve Year Club), 1997

Bar Admissions

  • Texas, 2008

Presentations and Publications

  • Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Trust Accountings in Texas
    • TXCPA Summit, November 9, 2021
  • Planned Giving: How to make smarter gifts and maximize the benefit to everyone
    • Midland/Odessa Business and Estate Counsel, November 14, 2021
  • Unanswered Questions in Wills and Trusts (And How to Fix Them)
    • Presented to the State Bar of Texas Advanced Estate Planning and Probate Seminar, June 9, 2021
  • But What’s an Ascertainable Standard? Clarifying HEMS Distribution Standards and Other Fiduciary Considerations for Trustees
    • Presented at the Independent Trustee Alliance Conference, May 13, 2021
  • The Alchemy of Trusts: Creating the Perfect Solution for Each Client’s Problem
    • Presented at the State Bar of Texas’ Handling Your First (or Next) Trust Seminar, April 16, 2021
  • What in the World is an FLP?
    • Presented to the State Bar of Texas Estate Planning and Probate Drafting Course October 8, 2020
  • Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Trust Accountings in Texas
    • Independent Trustee Alliance Conference, September 17, 2020
  • Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Trust Accountings in Texas
    • Article for Today’s CPA, September, 2020
  • But What’s an Ascertainable Standard? Clarifying HEMS Distribution Standards and Other Fiduciary Considerations for Trustees
    • Presented at the Wealth Counsel Texas Forum, July 2, 2020
  • Building Your Castle: How to Develop and Implement Family Systems and Governance to Avoid “The Family Power Vacuum”
    • Presented at the State Bar of Texas Intermediate Estate Planning Course, June 2, 2020.
  • But What’s an Ascertainable Standard? Clarifying HEMS Distribution Standards and Other Fiduciary Considerations for Trustees
    • Presented at the North Texas Bench Bar Conference March 5, 2020.
  • Basics of Estate Planning
    • Presented as part of Caregiving with Confidence Seminar presented by the Senior Source in Dallas on February 19, 2020.
  • Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em: Probate Litigation and Settlements Involving IRAs.
    • Presented to Dallas Bar Association Probate section monthly meeting on January 7, 2020
  • The SECURE Act: Will it Affect Your Retirement Plan?
    • Article for Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP newsletter, December, 2019
  • Trust Accountings and the Duty to Inform in Texas
    • Article for Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP newsletter, November, 2019
  • Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Trust Accountings in Texas
    • Presented to the State Bar of Texas Estate Planning and Probate Drafting Course on October 25th, 2019
  • Levels of 3rd Party Care: From Powers of Attorney to Complex Guardianships
    • Presented at the program “Turning 65: What You Need to Know if You or Your Clients are Turning 65,” presented by the Solo and Small Firm Section of the Dallas Bar Association on October 2, 2019
  • Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em: Probate Litigation and Settlements Involving IRAs.
    • Presented to State Bar of Texas’ Intermediate Estate Planning and Probate Seminar as part of the Advanced Planning Seminar on June 17, 2019
  • Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em: Probate Litigation and Settlements Involving IRAs.
    • Presented to Midland Memorial Foundation on May 2, 2019
  • Basics of Estate Planning
    • Presented as part of Caregiving with Confidence Seminar presented by the Senior Source in Dallas on April 9, 2019
  • But What’s an Ascertainable Standard? Clarifying HEMS Distribution Standards and Other Fiduciary Considerations for Trustees
    • Presented at the Southwest Community Foundation guest lecture series on March 26 and 28th, 2019.
  • Murder in the Heir: Application of the Slayers Rule in Texas
    • Webinar Presented through TexasBarCLE on December 6, 2018
    • Interview of Shaun Rainey with Cotton, Bledsoe, Tighe & Dawson, PC of Midland, TX
  • Discussing Death, Divorce, and Drugs: How to Handle Tough Topics with Your Clients
    • Panel Discussion for the Dallas Estate Planning Council’s Emerging Professionals meeting on November 16, 2018
  • Charitable Giving & Probate Avoidance
    • Presented to Dallas Opera’s Orpheus Society on November 15, 2018
    • Part of the Dallas Opera’s 4-part Planning Matters series
  • Enter the Paladin: Using trust protectors to solve trust problems
    • Presented to the State Bar of Texas 29th annual Estate Planning & Probate Drafting Seminar on October 4th, 2018
  • Planned Giving: How to make smarter gifts and maximize the benefits to everyone
    • Presented to Dallas Opera Orpheus Society on September 20, 2018
  • Building Your Castle: How to develop and implement family systems and governance to avoid The Family Power Vacuum
    • Presented to the Midland/Odessa Business and Estates Council on September 18, 2018
  • Basics of Estate Planning
    • Presented as part of Caregiving with Confidence Seminar presented by the Senior Source in Dallas on August 21, 2018
  • Luxury Property Special Purpose Entities
    • Appeared in the REPTL Reporter (journal of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas), Volume 56, No. 3 (August 2018)
  • The IRS’s Trust Fund Recovery Penalty: A Perilous Trap for the Unwary
    • Article for Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP newsletter, August, 2018
  • Upjohn Clauses: A Trap for the Unwary Trustee 
    • Article for Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter, LLP newsletter, March 13, 2018
  • Securities Compliance Hurdles
    • Presented to Cox School of Business Law for the Entrepreneur course on February 13, 2018
  • Luxury Property Special Purpose Entities
    • Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, December 2017
  • But What’s An Ascertainable Standard? Clarifying HEMS Distribution Standards and Other Fiduciary Considerations For Trustees
    • Texas Tech University School of Law Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal, Volume 10, Fall 2017, Book 1
  • Family Governance Arrangements: Putting the Success into Succession Planning
    • Appeared in REPTL Reporter (journal of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas), Volume 54, No. 4 (August 2016)
  • Securities Compliance Hurdles
    • Presented to Cox School of Business, Law for the Entrepreneur course, February 4, 2016
  • Caregiver Do’s and Don’ts
    • Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, December 2015 (article available here)
  • But What’s an Ascertainable Standard? Clarifying HEMS distribution standards and other fiduciary considerations for trustees.
    • Presented to State Bar of Texas’ Intermediate Estate Planning and Probate Seminar as part of the Advanced Planning Seminar, June 9, 2015.
  • What in the World is an FLP?
    • Presented to the Dallas Bar Association’s Friday Clinic, April 3, 2015
  • Levels of 3rd Party Care: From powers of attorney to complex guardianships
    • Presented to Dallas Bar Association, August 19, 2014
  • Catching the Leprechaun: Potential pitfalls and perplexing problems with finding the now-permanent portability pot-of-gold
    • Article in the Texas Tax Lawyer, Winter of 2013 (article available here)
  • Business Management & Control: Organizing your business to avoid disputes, minimize taxes and maximize flexibility
    • Presented at SMU’s Cox School of Business as guest lecturer for entrepreneurship class, January 28, 2013
  • Tractors, Teenagers and Testaments: Reviewing the time-honored traditions and embracing the new formalities of estate planning in Texas
    • Presented to State Bar of Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar, October 17, 2012
  • Contracting for Long Term Care: What clients need to know when selecting and dealing with eldercare facilities
    • Presented at the program “Turning 65: What You Need to Know if You or Your Clients are Turning 65,” presented by the Solo and Small Firm Section of the Dallas Bar Association, September 7, 2011 (slides available here)
  • Fundamentals of Estate Planning and Why They Matter
    • Published in the Dallas Goethe Center’s March, 2011 newsletter
    • Generally applicable, but directed at non-citizens and their spouses
  • Going the Extra Mile When Drafting a Will
    • Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, January 2011 (article available here)
  • New Beneficiary Notice Need Not Be a Hassle
    • Part of a more substantial research project, “Named in a Will”: Examining the Scope of Amended Texas Probate Code §128A
    • Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, August 2008 (article available here)