John D. Bristow


Armstrong Bristow Farley & Schwarzschild PLC
1807 Libbie Avenue, Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23226

John works with high net-worth individuals and their families and business owners primarily in the areas of estate and trust administration, estate and gift tax planning, business succession planning and general tax planning.

Planning for the federal estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax are material concerns for most of John’s estate planning clients, and he has extensive experience advising clients on such planning.  In addition to preparing wills and revocable trusts, John advises clients on lifetime transactions designed to achieve their goals tax-efficiently.  Examples of such transactions include gifts to family members, intra-family loans, gifts to irrevocable dynasty trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, sales to grantor trusts and creating charitable remainder trusts and private foundations.  John also negotiates and drafts premarital agreements and regularly prepares powers of attorney and advance medical directives.

In addition to planning, John has a substantial estate and trust administration practice.  John advises executors and trustees regarding all matters related to estate and trust administration.  Additionally, John serves as executor and trustee for a number of families and has been involved with discretionary distribution decisions for beneficiaries under a variety of distribution standards and circumstances.  Related to his administration practice John negotiates and drafts agreements to settle family matters and works with beneficiaries to resolve disputes with trustees.

John’s administration practice includes fiduciary and individual income tax planning.  Additionally, John regularly prepares or advises those that prepare federal gift tax returns and estate tax returns and manages any resulting tax audits.  John has substantial experience regarding the federal generation-skipping transfer tax including successful private letter rulings.

John has experience in administering foreign trusts and in estate planning for U.S. persons with foreign assets.

Prior to law school, John spent five years with Price Waterhouse LLP providing tax planning and compliance services primarily to closely held businesses and their owners.

John is a certified public accountant and is admitted to practice law in Virginia and North Carolina.

  • University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D. with High Honors; Order of the Coif and Law Review
  • University of North Carolina, Master of Accounting
  • University of North Carolina, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), Fellow
  • Recognized in Best Lawyers in America (2009-2021)
  • Recognized in Virginia Super Lawyers (2012-2021) 
  • Recognized in Chambers High Net Worth Guide for Private Wealth Law as a “Band 2” attorney (2021).

John is Section Chair for the Virginia Bar Association Wills, Trusts & Estates Section (2021-2023) and a member of its Legislative Committee. John is a member of the Trust Administrators Council of Richmond and served as its President (2013-2014).  John has spoken at continuing legal education seminars as well as to professional groups on various topics concerning tax planning and estate and trust planning and administration.