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Mr. Riley has more than 15 years of focused experience as a Certified Legal Specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, with a practice limited to the areas of estate planning, trust and probate administration (including estate, gift and fiduciary income tax matters), and related litigation. Pulling from his specialized background, Mr. Riley is exceptional at resolving complex and highly emotional probate disputes.


$400 per hour, 
with a $175 administrative fee per party

Legal Career & Prior Experience: 

  • Judge Pro Tem – San Diego Superior Court (Probate Division)
  • Court-appointed referee, guardian ad litem and counsel in probate matters
  • Successfully mediated dozens of highly emotional and complex probate matters
  • Certified Legal Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California in estate planning, trust and probate law
  • Mediation training from the National Conflict Resolution Center
  • Frequent CEB and SDCBA speaker on various estate planning and probate topics
  • Primarily facilitative approach to mediations, with evaluative analysis applied as appropriate
  • Attorney, Hughes & Pizzuto, APC (2011-present);
  • Branton & Wilson, APC (1994-2010)

Education & Professional Affiliations: 

  • University of Wisconsin, Madison (B.A., 1981; J.D., 1984)

ADR Experience & Specialties: 

  • Extensive and specialized experience as a neutral in contested probate matters, including:
  • Trust and will contests
  • Disputes between beneficiaries and fiduciaries regarding trust/estate administration, including accountings and distributions
  • Issues regarding characterization and valuation of assets, and allocation of liabilities and expenses
  • Fiduciary and attorney fee disputes
  • Pre-death estate planning controversies
  • Estate/gift tax issues
  • Contested petitions to establish conservatorship or guardianship
  • Creditors’ claims disputes
  • Various other petitions brought pursuant to Probate Code sections 850 and 17200

Achievements & Awards: 

  • Rated “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell and LexisNexis peer review
  • Named San Diego “Super Lawyer” in estate planning (2009-2012)
  • Past Co-Chair of SDCBA Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law section
  • SDCBA, Section Committees on Local Probate Court Rules, including new rules governing Probate mediation Program, member since 1991
  • State Bar of California (1986); State Bar of Wisconsin (1984)
  • Certified Specialist, State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (1994)
  • Recipient, Wiley W. Manuel Award for pro bono legal services

To schedule a mediation please call Case Manager Kathy Purcell at