Valerie J. Merritt

Valerie J. Merritt, was a partner at CMDB prior to retiring in 2016. After an impressive 40-year career as a trusted advisor to clients, and local non-profits, as well as her young partners and associates, Valerie is enjoying a well-deserved retirement! She is spending as much time as possible with her two children and six grandchildren, catching up on all the good mysteries, puttering around her garden and traveling near and far. As you will see from her accomplishments below, Valerie was an invaluable leader of the CMDB team.

Valerie J. Merritt


Juris Doctor, UCLA School of Law, Order of the Coif, 1976

Bachelor’s Degree, Occidental College, cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1969


Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Law by State Bar of California

Former Chair of Executive Committee, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section of State Bar of California (1992-1993; Vice Chair, 1991-1992; member, 1987 - 1990); Advisor (l990 - 1991; 1993 - 1996)

Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel (1987 - 2016)

Chair of Trusts and Estates Section of Los Angeles County Bar Association

(1985 - 1986, then known as Probate and Trust Law Section; member of the Executive Committee of the Section, 2006-present)

Member, Executive Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association

Delegation to Conference of Delegates (1983 - 1986; 2004-present)

Member, Tax Section and Trusts and Estates Section of Los Angeles County Bar Association; Pasadena Bar Association

Past Member, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Sections of American Bar Association; California Women Lawyers; Beverly Hills Bar Association; Glendale Bar Association

Assist in clinical instruction, Estate Planning course, UCLA School of Law (1984 - 1987; 1993 - 1994)

Probate Instructor, School of Paralegal Studies, University of West Los Angeles (1982 -1984)

An Author, Probate Workflow Manual, C.E.B. (July 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1995 Supplements)

Author and Speaker, “Family Law Traps in Estate Planning for Happily Married Couples,” Twenty-ninth Annual UCLA-CEB Estate Planning Institute, Los Angeles, May 2007

Author and Speaker, “Common Family Law Traps in Estate Planning,” Pasadena Probate Bar Association, May 22, 2006

Speaker, “Life Insurance,” Women’s Workshop, Pasadena, October 8, 2005

Author and Speaker, “Estate Planning for Difficult Beneficiaries,” Pasadena Probate Bar Association, November 15, 2004 and November 11, 2004 in Escondido

Speaker, “Designing and Maintaining an Estate Plan that Works for You and Your Heirs,” Women’s Workshop, Pasadena, October 16, 2004

Co-Author and Speaker, “You Drafted the Estate Plan; Your Client Died; Now What?” Trusts and Estates Section, Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California, Monterey, October 9, 2004

Author and Speaker, “Estate Planning for Difficult Beneficiaries,” 26th Annual UCLA-CEB Estate Planning Institute, Los Angeles, May 21, 2004

Author and speaker, “On Shifting Sands:  Estate Planning with Repeal Uncertain,” Los Angeles County Bar Association, Taxation Section, November 12, 2002

Author and speaker, "A Potpourri of Thoughts on the Efficient Use of Computers in Your Estate Planning Practice," Southern California Tax & Estate Planning Forum, October, 1994.  (Updated and repeated for probate section of Pasadena Bar   Association and for Contra Costa County Bar Association.)

Moderator, "Estate Planning for Retirement Plans and IRAs," Spring Institute, State Bar of California, Los Angeles, May 1994.

Co-author and speaker, "Successful Succession Planning," C.E.B., March 1994.

Author and speaker, "Practical Choices in Buying and Using Your Computer Hardware and Software," Southern California Tax & Estate Planning Forum, October 1993.

Co-author and speaker, "Estate Planning for the Unmarried," C.E.B., March 1993.

Co-author and speaker, "What You Need to Know to Use Your Computer Effectively,"   Fifth Annual Computers Now Conference, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate    Law Section, State Bar of California, March 1993.

Author and speaker, "Basic Software Applications," Computers Now, Fourth Annual

Management and Computers Now Conference on Using Technology Effectively in Estate Planning and Probate, February 1, 1992

Co-author and speaker, "Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples," Fifteenth Annual Program, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section of the State Bar of California, Fall 1991.  [Also presented to Beverly Hills Estate Planning Council.]

Author, "Tax Reform and Estate Planning," Los Angeles Lawyer, February 1987 at 32

Speaker, "Financial Empowerment: Dollars and Sense," Close to the Heart of a Woman Seminar, Burbank, April 1994.

Speaker, "Suddenly Alone - The Legal and Financial Issues," Glendale Memorial Hospital, June 1994.

Speaker, "Trust Allocation: Tax and Other Practical Problems", Warner Center Estate Planning Council, February 1990.

Speaker, "The Fiduciary Income Tax Return: A Line by Line Discussion", 1989 Estate Planning in Depth Seminar

Panelist, "Estates and Trusts: Dispute Resolution and Litigation", Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, C.E.B., August 1989.

Speaker, "Effective Planning and Administration of Various Kinds of Trusts", 1988 Estate Planning in Depth Seminar

Panelist, Estate Planning & Probate in California, National Business Institute, (1987)

Panelist, 1987 and 1985 Rutter Group Presentation, "Alternatives to Probate"

Panelist, "How to Reduce Expenses in Your Trust and Estate Practice with the Use of a Personal Computer and Other Efficiencies", 1987 Probate Symposium of Los Angeles County Bar Association

Speaker, "First Steps for a Widow", 2nd Annual Legal Seminar of Los Angeles County Commission for Women (April 1987)

Speaker, "Trust Accounting v. Tax Accounting", 1987, 1986 and 1984 Estate Planning in Depth Seminar

Panelist, 1986 Rutter Group Presentation on Basic Training in Probate Practice

Panelist, 1986 Rutter Group Presentation, "Commencing Probate Under 1986 Rules"

Speaker, "Tax Reform Affecting Estates, Trusts and Beneficiaries: An Update", April 1986, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Death and Gift Tax Subsection of Tax Section

Speaker, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way", Legal Seminar of Los Angeles County Commission for Women (March 1986)

Speaker, 1983 Estate Planning in Depth Seminar, "To Probate or Not to Probate", Panelist, C.E.B., "Estate Planning for Owners of Closely Held Business", 1983

Coauthor, "New Tax Law Greatly Impacts Tax Planning", The California Accountant, (Nov./Dec. 1981 and Jan./Feb. 1982)

Sponsored Three Resolutions in the probate area that passed the State Bar Conference of Delegates (2-3-83, 8-6-85, and 11-6-07)

Served on two Ad Hoc Committees to the Supervising Probate Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court, re Attorneys' Fees in Probate


Glendale YWCA, Board of Directors


Top 1% of lawyers to be included in the “The Best Lawyers in America”

Super Lawyer, Los Angeles Magazine