Melinda Merk, JD, LLM, CFP®
Melinda focuses on providing holistic multi-generational income and wealth transfer tax planning advice and estate and trust services to high net worth individuals, families, and business owners. She has over two decades of experience advising clients with regard to domestic and foreign trusts, family limited partnerships and LLCs, grantor retained annuity trusts, dynasty trusts and other wealth transfer strategies, charitable trusts, asset protection planning, business formation, succession and pre-sale planning, estate and trust administration, and tax controversy.
Melinda started her career at a boutique trusts and estates firm in Montgomery County, Maryland, where she developed a strong foundation in estate planning drafting wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney, family limited partnership agreements and other legal documents, and handled probate and estate administration matters, including preparation of estate and gift tax returns and final 1040/1041s.
After completing her LL.M. in Taxation at the Georgetown University Law Center, she joined Ernst & Young’s National Tax Department in the Personal Financial Services group in Washington, DC, where she consulted with clients on a nationwide and global basis as a Subject Matter Specialist in the areas of income and wealth transfer tax planning.
Melinda then returned to the practice of law as a Senior Counsel in the Private Wealth Services group at Holland & Knight LLP in Northern Virginia, with a primary focus on pre-sale planning for business owners, income and estate tax planning for international clients, and asset protection planning. She later joined PwC as a Tax Director in the Personal Financial Services group, working closely with business owners and private equity firm partners on their individual income tax and estate planning.
Most recently, she was a Senior Vice President and Regional Trust Advisor at SunTrust Private Wealth Management for the Greater Washington Region, where she served as a resource to clients on trust and estate planning, and handled the administration and risk management of trust accounts over $5 million.
Melinda is listed among the Washingtonian’s Top Trusts and Estates Lawyers (2017), and is a frequent speaker and writer on estate and trust planning. She is active in the estate planning community on a local and national level, and a strong supporter of Lab Rescue and local philanthropy and the arts in Northern Virginia. Melinda is originally from Pittsburgh, and is an avid Steelers fan. She currently resides in Reston, Virginia.
- B.S. (cum laude), Political Science and Business Administration, Shepherd University
- J.D., Duquesne University School of Law
- LL.M. in Taxation (with distinction), Georgetown University Law Center
- Certified Financial Planner™
- Washington DC Estate Planning Council, Past Board Member
- Northern Virginia Estate Planning Council, Current Board Member
- Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, (Current Board Member; Business Women’s Giving Circle)
- Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area
- Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, Premier Lead Share Group
- American Bar Association Section of Taxation (Nolan Fellow, Estate and Gift Tax Committee, Fiduciary Income Tax Committee)
- American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (Income and Transfer Tax Planning Group; Business Planning Group)
- Virginia Bar Association, Estates and Trusts Section
- Maryland Bar Association, Estates and Trusts Section
- Fairfax County Bar Association, Estates and Trusts Section
- Shepherd University Foundation Board of Directors, Past Board Member
- Member/Supporter, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- “Hidden Risks and Mistakes to Avoid in Estate and Long-Term Care Planning,” Lansdowne Woods Wellness Expo (2017).
- “Joint Revocable Trusts in Common Law Property States,” Maryland State Bar Association, Estates and Trusts Study Group (2017).
- “Top Ten Income Tax Tenets for Estate Planners,” DC Bar Taxation Section (2016)
- “Joint Trusts: Call Me Maybe?”, Virginia State Bar Trusts and Estates Section (2015)
- “Top Ten Estate Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them,” SunTrust Private Wealth Management (2014)
- “You Give Trusts a Bad Name: Planning and Pitfalls with Joint Trusts,” Virginia CLE 33rd Annual Trusts and Estates Conference (2014)
- “Income and Wealth Transfer Tax Aspects of Joint Trusts in Community Property and Common Law Jurisdictions,” ABA Section of Taxation, Fiduciary Income Tax Committee (2014)
- “New Legislation Makes Trusts More Attractive in Virginia,” Washington DC Estate Planning Council (2013)
- “Turbocharging the Estate Plan,” ABA Section of Taxation, Fiduciary Income Tax Committee (2013)
- “Changing Trust Situs; Forum Shopping for Trusts,” DC Bar Taxation Section (2012)
- “Joint Revocable Trusts Update,” DC Bar Taxation Section (2012)
- “Options for Managing Trust Transfer Risk,” Delaware Bankers Association Delaware Trust Conference (2011)
- “Estate Tax Limbo: Three Steps To Take Now,” Forbes (2010)
- “Top Ten International Compliance Issues for US Persons with Foreign Investments,” Leimberg Estate Planning Newsletter #1432 (2009)
- “Estate Planning for the International Private Client,” Holland & Knight PWS Newsletter (2007)
- “Top Ten Planning and Investment Considerations for GRATs,” DC Bar Taxation Section (2006)
- “Post-Mortem Expenses: The Hubert Case – An Update,” ABA Tax Section (2006)
- “Supporting Organizations: Do They Have Our Support?” ABA Tax Section (2004)
- “Installment Sales To Grantor Trusts,” ABA Tax Section (2003)
- “Joint Revocable Trusts for Married Couples Domiciled in Common-Law Property States,” 32 Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal 345 (1997)