John Kelso is a principal with The Van Winkle Law Firm, practicing in the areas of estate and trust planning and administration. Kelso is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), and has earned board certification as a specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law from the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization. He has over 15 years of experience helping clients develop wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, often involving complex matters that require charitable trusts, insurance trusts, business succession plans and structured gifts. His clients’ estate planning arrangements may also involve coordination with other members of the firm to develop creative business succession, real estate, and charitable giving plans. Kelso’s work also reflects his understanding that tax savings and sophisticated techniques are usually the means to an end, not an end in themselves. His objective is to help create estate plans that meets the clients’ own goals, so careful listening, counsel, and attention to detail are as important as the technical aspects of planning.

 

Education

  • Davidson College - B.A. (Philosophy), 1992
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill - Juris Doctor with honors, 1996
  • New York University - Master's of Law (Taxation), 1997

Awards and Honors

  • AV Peer-Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America - 2011-2018
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers - 2013-2018

Professional Affiliations

  • 28th Judicial District Bar
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
  • Ethics Committee of the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, Chairman
  • North Carolina Bar Assocation
  • Land of the Sky Estate Planning Council, (Former President)
  • North Carolina State Bar, Specialization Committee for Estate Planning & Probate Law, (Former Member & Chairman)
  • Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, (Former Council Member)

Community Involvement

  • Colburn Earth Science Museum (Former President)
  • Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (Former Board Member)
  • Pack Place Arts, Education and Science Center (Former Board Member)
  • UNC-Asheville Foundation (Former Board Member)

Presentations

  • Co-Speaker, 34th Annual Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Program, NC Bar Association Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section, July 18, 2013
  • Co-Speaker, 33rd Annual Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Program, NC Bar Association Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section, July 26, 2012

John is a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys riding different bikes, “as long as they are quiet and not too fast.” He and his wife, Amy, have two sons, both of whom have a full schedule of the usual high school activities. John also enjoys CrossFit and outdoor activities, as well as reading.

  • Favorite Food: Any meal together with family
  • Favorite Artists: East Fork Pottery
  • Favorite Music: Local bluegrass in the summer, Asheville Symphony in the winter, and old Jacques Brel recordings any time