Biography

Cliff Melnick is Of Counsel at Keystone Law Group, P.C. where his practice focuses on trust, estate and conservatorship litigation. With more than 23 years of litigation experience overall, including the last 18 years in probate, Cliff has successfully represented a broad range of clients state-wide including trustees, beneficiaries, executors, administrators, conservators, guardians, private professional fiduciaries, life insurance companies, and non-profit organizations.

Prior to joining Keystone, Cliff was a partner for 13 years at Meserve, Mumper & Hughes LLP (Est. 1889), one of the oldest firms in Los Angeles, where he litigated high-stakes probate and trust litigation matters. While at Meserve, Cliff also counseled clients regarding their legal duties and obligations in connection with trust and estate administration, probates, guardianships, and conservatorships.


Cliff’s cases have included all manner of Will and Trust disputes, contested Conservatorships (Probate and LPS), Fiduciary Reports and Accountings, Heggstad/850 Petitions, Petitions for Probate, Elder Abuse actions, Quiet Title and Partition proceedings, Will Contests and Trust Contests. Cliff has also represented clients before the California Court of Appeal (2nd Appellate District).

Cliff Melnick
Of Counsel
Education

Cliff received his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he served as a Judicial Extern to the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel, United States District Court (Northern District), and interned as certified law student with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. He received his undergraduate degree in Law and Society, with Highest Honors, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he was also certified as a Global Peace and Security Scholar. While in college, Cliff was awarded the Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services for his volunteer work at Bet Tzedek Legal Services assisting low income clients.

Memberships

  • California Lawyer’s Association, Trusts and Estates Section
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Trusts and Estates Section
  • Orange County Bar Association, Trusts and Estates Section
Representative Matters
  • Successfully represented one the largest nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organizations in the United States in multiple lawsuits throughout California including years-long trust litigation actions, trust interpretation disputes, appointment of fiduciaries, and like matters.
  • Aggressively litigated Will and Trust Contest on the grounds of lack of capacity and undue influence, obtaining extremely favorable settlement for trust beneficiaries whose sibling sought to cut them out of entire trust estate.
  • Successfully argued before the California Court of Appeal (2nd Appellate District) reversing anti-SLAPP ruling by trial court on Petition for Instructions regarding Violation of No Contest Clause brought by client against sister, which appellate opinion became published decisional law and confirmed the applicability of anti-SLAPP motions in probate.
  • Obtained winning judgment at bench trial of Partition action for Trust beneficiary whose sibling sought to prevent liquidation of funds for disbursement by refusing to sell millions of dollars’ worth of coastal real property distributed from Trust.
  • Vigorously litigated and favorably settled Petition for Removal of Trustee and to Compel an Accounting on behalf of two trust beneficiaries whose sibling refused to make distributions required by the terms of the Trust for more than three years.
  • Received favorable judgments at evidentiary hearings on Quiet Title actions in various matters for both Trustees and individuals where real estate was not correctly allocated at death due to title issues.
  • Represented daughter of mentally ill mother in three-day jury trial to verdict in LPS Conservatorship matter.
  • Assisted numerous fiduciaries, both individuals and private professionals, with all manner of Petitions before the probate court including accountings, interpretation of testamentary instruments, and for instructions as necessary to confirm compliance with legal obligations.
  • Successfully represented Trustee in Probate Code section 850 Petition to bring real estate into Trust where left out due to inadvertence of deceased Settlor.

Interests

Outside of the office, Cliff enjoys watching Lakers basketball, listening to live music, international travel, and spending time with his wife and two children.