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Christopher J. Coats


Christopher J. Coats concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, tax law, and business law.

Professional Biography


Mr. Coats represents family offices, high net worth individuals and families, and large family owned and closely held entities in sophisticated estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax planning, business succession planning, business transactions, income tax planning, and estate and trust administration.

Mr. Coats has extensive experience in wealth transfer planning including drafting complex wills and generation-skipping trusts, intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), revocable trusts, inter vivos QTIP trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, disclaimers and other estate planning instruments. In addition, he regularly prepares and reviews federal estate and gift tax returns and works with appraisers (both business and real estate) with respect to complex valuation issues related to such tax returns.

He has represented numerous clients in both gift and sale transactions of business interests (including voting and non-voting limited liability company interests, general and limited partnership interests, and voting and non-voting closely held corporate stock) and real property (including farm property, investment property, vacation homes and undivided interests in various types of real estate).

Mr. Coats has substantial experience drafting limited liability company agreements, limited partnership agreements and shareholder agreements. He frequently advises clients on and assists with the formation, operation and disposition of family limited liability companies and family limited partnerships. He also works on transactions and other matters involving corporate tax and partnership tax issues.

He also has significant experience drafting and negotiating antenuptial (premarital) agreements and assisting clients in protecting and preserving wealth for future generations.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • Listed in Chambers USA High Net Worth Guide in the area of Tennessee Private Wealth Law (2017 – 2020)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in Trusts and Estates (2019 – 2021); Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) (2020 – 2021); Closely Held Companies and Family Businesses Law (2021)
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell (Trusts and Estates, Taxation and Corporate Law)
  • Named a Mid-South Rising Star by Mid-South Super Lawyers (2014 – 2019)
  • Member – American, Tennessee, Mississippi and Memphis Bar Associations (Tax Section Member of ABA, TBA and MBA)
  • Member – Memphis Estate Planning Council
  • Outstanding Student Award in Business Planning Law
  • Outstanding Student Award in Gaming Law
  • Outstanding Member Award for Moot Court Board
  • Moot Court Board Executive Committee
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Beta Alpha Psi


  • New York University, LL.M. in Taxation, 2005
  • University of Mississippi School of Law, J.D., 2004, cum laude
  • University of Mississippi, Bachelor of Accountancy, 2001, magna cum laude


  • Tennessee, 2005
  • Mississippi, 2004
  • United States Tax Court

One source describes Christopher Coats as 'a star in Memphis,' adding: 'He has great experience doing sophisticated work for high net worth people.' Coats assists clients on trust and estate matters, as well as tax planning. One commentator reports: 'His documents are always done perfectly, and he has a good sense of practical resolution of problems without overcomplicating things.' An interview praises him as 'one of the smartest people I have ever met,' and another says: 'I am confident recommending him because I am confident in his ability. He is very intelligent, very thorough, he is in touch with current developments. I think he brings good ideas to the table, good suggestions.'

Christopher Coats is 'an extremely capable attorney,' a source says, as well as 'an expert in taxation and estate planning.' One interviewee notes that 'Chris puts his clients' interests and needs first and is dedicated to their service,' and another agrees that 'his sole concern is a good answer for his client.' Another market insider enthuses: 'What sets him apart is that he truly cares about his clients, not just the legal aspects of the matter but how whatever he is recommending affects the lives of the family and fits within the family culture. Chris is not only exceptional as an attorney, he is exceptional as a person.'

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