Ellen McKissock

Ellen McKissock

Ellen McKissock is a trial lawyer and Co-chair of Hopkins & Carley’s Trust & Estate Litigation Practice.

With more than 30 years of experience, Ellen has litigated hundreds of cases covering every aspect of trust and estate litigation, including:

  • Financial elder abuse
  • Invalidating marriages
  • Will and trust contests
  • Dissolution of partnerships
  • Recovery of trust assets
  • Removal of trustees
  • Complex accountings

In addition to numerous trials, Ellen has represented clients at the appellate level and has three published opinions.

Ellen is currently a Fellow with the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC).  She sits on the Trusts & Estates Section Executive Committee of the California Lawyers Association (TexCom) and was Editor in Chief of the Quarterly.  Ellen is also a respected speaker and author, giving several seminars a year throughout California. 

Representative Experience

  • Challenged and successfully voided a marriage after death.  A financial predator had married an elder to secure his estate.
  • Successfully defended a trustee from claims by a remainder beneficiary that elderly income beneficiary lacked mental capacity to manage funds distributed to him by the trustee.
  • Obtained a swift decision protecting a client’s interest in an estate where a third party claimed interference with his expected inheritance.
  • Following extensive forensic accounting, secured multi-million dollar settlement for clients where trustee had funneled partnership and trust assets to himself through overpayments.


  • YMCA Twin Award, Tribute to Women, 2008
  • Appreciation Award, Charter School of Morgan Hill, 2001
  • Appreciation Award, Women Lawyer’s Committee, 1996


  • “Marrying into Elder Abuse,” California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Spring 2016
  • “If You Can’t Swindle Them, Marry Them,” Daily Journal, April 2014
  • “Obliterating the Hasso Decision:  New Legislation Protects Remainder Beneficiaries but Gives Income Beneficiaries a Run for Their Money,” California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Vol. 19, Issue 3, 2013

Speaking Engagements

  • “Care Custodians and Spouses: New Legislation Affecting Their Rights," CLA Webinar, March 2020
  • “Advanced Estate Planning, Litigation Issues,” Pincus Professional Education, September 2016
  • “Protecting Seniors From Abusive Marriages,” February 2015, September 2014
  • “Attorneys’ Fees in Probates, Trusts and Conservatorships,” May 2014
  • “Marrying Into Elder Abuse,” May 2014
  • “He’s in Love With Her!  A Mock Trial,” Petitioner’s Attorney, October 2012
  • “Confidential Marriage:  The Latest Tool for Elder Abuse,” March 2012
  • CEB:  “Practical Problems in Trust Administration,” January 2012
  • “Matters that Hit the Wallet:  A Comprehensive Overview of Attorney’s Fees in Probate,” October 2011
  • “The Probate Process From Start to Finish (Litigating the Case in Probate Court),” March 2010
  • “The Carrot and the Stick – The New No Contest Clause Statute,” Fall 2009
  • “Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Nearly Every Statute of Limitations, in an Hour,” May 2010, April 2009
  • American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC), Fellow
  • California Lawyers Association, Trust & Estate Executive Committee, (TexCom)
  • The Quarterly, Trust & Estates Section of the California State Bar, immediate past Editor in Chief, October 2016-October 2017
  • Incapacity Subcommittee of the Trusts & Estates Section Executive Committee of the State Bar, (TexCom), Vice chair, 2015 2016
  • Silicon Valley Bar Association, President, Board of Trustees, 2014 2016
  • Trust & Estates Section Executive Committee for California State Bar, 2013 Present
  • Silicon Valley Bar Association Board of Trustees, 2011 Present
  • Silicon Valley Bar Association, Executive Committee Chair, 2009 2011
  • Silicon Valley Bar Association, Education Subcommittee Chair, 2008 2009
  • State Bar of California (1983)
  • J.D., University of California, Hastings
  • B.A., Journalism (with honors), University of California, Berkeley
  • B.A., Political Science (with honors), University of California, Berkeley

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