Florida's Children First

Melissa Lader Barnhardt, Esq. – Fort Lauderdale, FL

Wells Fargo Private Bank Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Melissa is currently the Senior Vice President and Senior Trust Fiduciary Specialist of the Fort Lauderdale Wells Fargo Private Bank office after nine years as the Vice President and Trust Officer in the Wealth & Investment Management Department of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale SunTrust Bank offices. Prior to returning to her home town of Florida, Melissa was an attorney with the law firm of Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, P.C. of Chicago, Illinois where she concentrated her practice in the areas of estate planning, guardianship and special needs trusts drafting and administration. Prior to joining Wildman Harrold, Melissa worked for Old Kent Bank (n.k.a. FifthThird Bank) as a Vice President and Trust Officer handling guardianship, special needs trusts and estate administration.

While at Old Kent Bank, Melissa co-authored an article titled “The Corporate Role in Estate Planning for Disabled Adults”, published in the CBA Record in September 2000. Melissa also worked as a staff attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office representing vulnerable juveniles and disabled adults from 1992 through 1997 and previously taught as an adjunct professor at the John Marshall Law School. Melissa has guest lectured for the Elder Law Class at St. Thomas Law School, Dade County Probate and Guardianship Bar, Developmental Disability Workshops and the Fiduciary and Investment Risk Management Association.

Melissa received her B.A., Magna Cum Laude, from University of South Florida in 1988, J.D., Cum Laude, from the John Marshall Law School in 1991, Chicago, IL and her L.L.M. in Public Health Law from DePaul University College of Law in 1994. Melissa was the recipient of the 2001 Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Bar Foundation Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Attorney Award for her significant involvement in community activities and pro bono work.

Currently, Melissa is a member of the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale, where she is serving on the Transitional Independent Living Resource Center Committee, the Advisory Council to the Association for Retarded Citizens (“ARC”), and Board Member for The Coalition to Prevent Abuse of Vulnerable Adults and First Children’s First. Melissa is licensed to practice law in both Illinois (1991) and Florida (2003).


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