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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 brings a unique and diverse perspective from her work in private law practice, Big Four accounting firms, and private banking/trust services.

Melinda 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, asset protection planning, business succession and pre-sale planning, and charitable giving.  She also advises fiduciaries and beneficiaries on probate and estate and trust administration, and serves as a technical expert working closely with the firm’s Litigation group on estate and trust litigation matters.

As a seasoned tax and estates and trusts attorney, Melinda enjoys working with a wide range of clients to successfully protect and preserve their wealth. She has represented business owners, real estate developers, private equity partners, physicians, executives, young couples, retirees, international/expat clients and their families.

Melinda started her career at a boutique trusts and estates firm in Montgomery County, Maryland, where she developed a strong foundation in estate planning and estate and trust administration.

After completing her LL.M. in Taxation at the Georgetown University Law Center, Melinda joined the National Tax Department (Personal Financial Services group) for a Big Four accounting firm 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 a national law firm in its Northern Virginia office, 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 another Big Four accounting firm 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.

Prior to returning to private practice, Melinda was a Senior Vice President and Regional Trust Advisor at a large bank’s Private Wealth Management group 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.

Given her diverse background, Melinda is distinctively collaborative when working with her clients and their other advisors, and highly respected among her peers through her involvement in various professional and community organizations. She was awarded the Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, which distinguishes designees for their dedication to being a collaborative advisor, and is awarded only to estate planning professionals who meet special requirements of education, experience, knowledge, professional reputation, and character.

Melinda often views her role as a “translator” by carefully listening to her clients, analyzing their situation and helping them to understand their planning options and solutions in “plain English” big picture terms. Melinda notes, “I enjoy helping clients to navigate the process and design a customized solution that is flexible, practical and understandable.”

Melinda is listed among the Washingtonian’s and Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top Trusts/Estates/Tax Lawyers, as well as Virginia Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite.”  She is active in the estate planning community on a local and national level, and has served on the Board of the Northern Virginia Estate Planning Council and the Washington DC Estate Planning Council. Melinda is also a member of the Wills, Trusts & Estates Legislative Committee for the Virginia Bar Association, and is a frequent speaker and writer on estate and trust planning.

On a personal level, Melinda is a strong supporter of local philanthropy and the arts in Northern Virginia, and is a current Board member of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.  She is also a member of the Board of Directors for Goodwin Living Foundation, and a long-time supporter and serial adopter of Lab Rescue and other animal welfare organizations.

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
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Certified Financial Planner™

Melinda is listed among the Washingtonian’s and Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top Trusts/Estates/Tax Lawyers, as well as Virginia Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite.”  She is also recognized among the Best Lawyers in America® 2024 (Trust & Estates; Litigation - Trusts & Estates; Tax Law).

Melinda is a frequent speaker and writer on estate and trust planning, and has attained the Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils which distinguishes her as a collaborative advisor and is awarded only to estate planning professionals who meet special requirements of education, experience, knowledge, professional reputation, and character.

Melinda was recently featured in the Profiles in Success book series published by Gordon J. Bernhardt, which includes profiles of over 600 successful and inspirational men and women in and around the greater Washington D.C. area.

She was also awarded the John S. Nolan Fellowship by the American Bar Association Section of Taxation (2001), which recognizes tax lawyers who are actively involved in the Section and have demonstrated leadership qualities and a commitment to the Section’s mission.

  • Washington DC Estate Planning Council, Past Board Member
  • Northern Virginia Estate Planning Council, Past Board Member
  • Community Foundation of Northern Virginia (Board Member; Business Women’s Giving Circle)
  • Goodwin Living Foundation (Board of Directors)
  • XPX (Exit Planning Exchange), DC Metro Chapter
  • 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, Wills, Trusts and Estates Section (Legislative Committee)
  • Fairfax County Bar Association, Wills Trust and Estates Section (Co-Chair)
  • Maryland Bar Association, Estates and Trusts Section
  • Shepherd University Foundation Board of Directors, Past Board Member
  • Why Estate Planning is Critically Important, Regardless of the Tax Laws,” Fairfax Bar Association Journal (Winter 2023)
  • Advance Care Planning: Making Your Wishes Known,” McCandlish Lillard Webinar (April 2023)
  • Top Ten Estate Planning Mistakes” webinar (March 2021)
  • Profiles in Success - an interview with Melinda Merk that is part of a series profiling successful and inspirational men and women in and around the Greater Washington D.C. area (2021)
  • “Ethical Quagmires and COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal During the Pandemic and Post-Pandemic World,” Conner-Zaritsky 42nd Annual Advanced Estate Planning and Administration Seminar (April 2021)
  • Post-Election Estate Planning and Tax Mitigation Strategies,” McCandlish Webinar (November 2020)
  • Advising Aging Clients and Their Families: How To Plan Now To Avoid Crisis Later,” McCandlish Webinar (July 2020)
  •  “Simple Steps to Estate Planning,” McCandlish Webinar (June 2020)
  • Don’t Forget About Digital Assets as Part of Your Estate Plan” (May 2020)
  • Estate Planning Simplified,” podcast (2020)
  • “Making an Impact with Donor Advised Funds and International Giving,” Northern Virginia Estate Planning Council (April 2019)
  • “Estate Planning Under the New Tax Law,” Northern Chapter of the Virginia Society of CPAs (2018)
  • “Estate Planning Under the New Tax Law,” Washington DC Estate Planning Council (2018)
  • “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)
  • “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)
  • “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)