Christian S. Kelso

Christian Kelso | Farrow-Gillespie & Heath LLPEstate Planning and Probate
Business Law



Christian S. Kelso practices in the areas of estate planning, wealth preservation and transfer, probate, tax and transactional corporate law. His primary focus is finding practical, cost-effective solutions for families and businesses to avoid costly, and often heartbreaking disputes in both the courtroom and the living room.  Mr. Kelso 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.

Mr. Kelso’s estate planning and wealth preservation practice involves both large and small estates, but is premised on the notion that the size of a client’s estate should not be relevant to the amount of compassion and dedication each deserves.   Whether the situation merely calls for a simple Will to care for minor children or complex trusts to mitigate tax liability, Mr. Kelso works closely with his clients to craft solutions that best achieve their goals, both legal and personal.

Where probate of an estate is required, Mr. Kelso 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 straight-forward and simple, particularly for clients who have the right counselor by their side to guide them through the legal formalities.  Other situations, however, can be more complicated. The death of a loved one can often set an entire family at odds as emotions and forgotten tensions well up. In situations like this, Mr. Kelso 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.

Mr. Kelso’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.  Mr. Kelso fills this roll by acting as general counsel on an as-needed basis and assisting with all manner of issues.  These include document and lease review, overseeing corporate governance and maintenance of records, advising on employment matters, drafting contracts, assisting with regulatory compliance, sales of business assets or the business itself, and business succession planning for future generations.

Ancillary to his general counsel role, Mr. Kelso takes particular pride in assisting startups address the issues that are specific to new businesses.  Legal issues are often far from the minds of new business owners, but the initial phases of a business’ lifecycle are often determinative of its eventual success or failure.  By helping clients get their businesses set up right from the beginning, Mr. Kelso seeks to save them time and money down the road.  In particular, where clients need to raise capital, to get their businesses going, Mr. Kelso is able to assist them avoid both internal disputes among owners as well as running afoul of securities and other regulatory compliance rules which might apply.

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.  Mr. Kelso came back to Dallas for both of his law degrees, which he received at Southern Methodist University. Mr. Kelso is an active member of the community in North Texas, both legal and otherwise, and sits on charitable boards and other governing bodies.  He speaks German fluently and lives in 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 LLP
  • Intern, Hon. Nikki DeShazo, Probate Court, Dallas County


  • 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

  • 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)