David leads the delivery of investment, planning, fiduciary, administrative, and family office services to a select group of clients with a special interest in family foundations and family philanthropy.

Previously, David practiced as a tax accountant for seven years at regional firms that managed the tax, audit, and general accounting needs of wealthy families and their closely held businesses. He then formed his own tax advisory firm to offer strategic advice and family office services before joining Sentinel Trust.

David is also an instructor in Rice University’s financial planning program and teaches income tax strategy to students sitting for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam.

Professional Background:

  • Managing Member, Smith & Zahn CPAs, PLLC, Houston, TX (2013–2014)
    Responsibilities included managing a local public accounting firm to serve the tax and accounting needs of high-net-worth individuals and closely held businesses.
  • Tax Accountant, Carolyn Allen CPA, PC, Houston, TX (2010–2013)
  • Staff, Maddox, Thomson, & Associates, PC, Houston, TX (2009–2010)
  • Staff, Weinstein Spira & Company, PC, Houston, TX (2007–2010)

Professional Organizations:

  • Houston Estate and Financial Forum, Board Member
  • Houston Business and Estate Planning Counsel, Member
  • Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, Member

Community Involvement:

  • Rice University CFP® Certification Education Program, Instructor
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Board of Directors and Audit Committee Chair
  • Houston Business and Ethics Forum, Member
  • Holocaust Museum of Houston, Audit Committee Member


University of Houston, BBA, cum laude (2007)



Certified Public Accountant (2009)



  • “Accounting for Fiduciary Entities,” Texas Banking Association’s Graduate Trust School, July 2020 and July 2021
  • “Personal Trust Administration from A to Z,” Midland College Foundation & Midland Memorial Foundation Estate Planning Seminar, October 2021

On Watch – April 2024

The latest edition of On Watch is now available for download. This issue features articles about the 4% rule, perpetual trusts, legal documents for young adults and the new Corporate Transparency Act and how that affects family-owned entities.

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Independent Wealth Management Firm, Sentinel Trust Company, Announces the Promotion of Three New Managing Directors

Sentinel Trust Company Announces the Promotion of New Vice President and Election of a New Shareholder

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WATCH: Year-End Charitable Giving – December 2021

In this month’s video update, Sentinel Trust Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Officer David L. Zahn, CPA, CFP® and Senior Investment Officer Katherine M. Rose, MBA, CFA discuss frequently asked questions regarding year-end charitable giving and the ways in which clients can optimize their year-end donations.

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WATCH: All About Family Foundations – October 2021

Senior Investment Officer Katherine M. Rose, MBA, CFA is joined by Senior Relationship Officer David L. Zahn, CPA, CFP® in discussing private family foundations in this month’s video update.

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