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Mr. Riley has nearly 25 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 background as a practitioner, mediator in more than 100 cases,  and Judge Pro Tem in the Probate Department of the San Diego Superior Court, 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