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Appellate Practice in Probate Appeals

San Diego lawyers correcting the record and making new law.

The San Diego appellate lawyers at Van Dyke & Associates, APLC are dedicated to providing clients throughout California the highest caliber representation in all phases of litigation, including appeals. The firm’s attorneys draw upon 20 years of experience appealing adverse trial court rulings and also successfully defending lower court victories on appeal. We do so by keeping abreast of litigation trends and ever-changing case law.

Our attorneys monitor each case the firm tries for potential points of appeal, ensuring any errors against us are preserved for post-trial relief and that we are prepared to defend rulings in your favor. Likewise, we review any cases we accept from other firms for challenges such as:

  • Sufficiency of the evidence
  • Improper legal interpretation
  • Improperly admitted testimony
  • Expert admission
  • Procedural errors
  • Faulty jury instructions

At Van Dyke & Associates, APLC, our appellate law experience includes filing and answering:

  • Motions for post-trial relief
  • Motions to vacate
  • Motions for reconsideration
  • Motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict
  • Appeal briefs
  • Writs
  • Amicus curiae briefs

Our appellate attorneys have the legal knowledge needed to handle briefing and oral arguments before state appellate courts throughout California.

The firm’s recent appellate decisions include: [Links to Opinions]

Sefton v. Sefton (Sefton II), Court of Appeal of California, Fourth District, Division One, April 25, 2015 (236 Cal. App. 4th 159).

Overview: After his father invalidly excluded him, son was entitled under common law to one-third of trust estate as taker in default of appointment where appointive property passed according to his grandfather’s testamentary scheme, which provided property should pass to father’s then living issue, on principle of representation, in default of appointment.

Sefton v. Sefton (Sefton I), Court of Appeal of California, Fourth District, Division One, May 31, 2012 (206 Cal. App. 4th 875).

Overview: Because the applicable case law at the time a grandfather executed a will made a power of appointment nonexclusive, a grandson could not be excluded under the later-enacted Prob. Code, § 652, when his father exercised the power of appointment. Prob. Code, § 601, required application of the law in effect when the grandfather executed his will.

Steiger v. Steiger (Steiger II), Court of Appeal of California, Fourth District, Division One, August 05, 2016 (2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5806).

Overview: Lee Steiger petitioned the probate court to compel trustee Paul Steiger to account for the Louise A. Steiger Trust, for the period from January 10, 2000, to April 18, 2011. The court applied California law to administer the trust, and determined that Paul had no duty to account to Lee from January 10, 2000, through February 3, 2006 (the time period while Louise Steiger, settlor, was acting as cotrustee) or from February 3, 2006, to October 29, 2010 (the time period while Lee was acting as cotrustee with Paul).1Link to the text of the note The court ordered Paul to file an amended account for the time period from October 29, 2010, through December 31, 2014. Lee, appearing in propria persona, has appealed the order, contending that New Jersey law should apply to govern the accounting and the court erred in holding that Paul had no duty to account for the majority of the pre-mortem period. We agree with the court’s application of California law and affirm the court’s order limiting the scope of accounting.

Steiger v. Steiger (Steiger I), Court of Appeal of California, Fourth District, Division One, July 22, 2015 (2015 Cal. App. Unpub LEXIS 5119).

Overview: The trial court found that a document appearing to amend the Louise A. Steiger Trust Dated May 11, 1990 (Trust) had not been properly delivered pursuant to the Trust’s requirements and thus, was not a valid amendment. If valid, it would have made Lee Steiger (Lee) the Trust’s sole beneficiary as opposed to beneficiaries in equal shares with his brother, Paul Steiger (Paul). Lee, appearing in propria persona, appeals contending there were procedural irregularities leading to the trial court’s decision and the amendment was effectively delivered. We reject Lee’s contentions and affirm.

Consult a committed appellate law firm in

For skilled help with an appeal, call Van Dyke & Associates, APLC at (619) 344-0977 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our San Diego office. Our law firm serves clients throughout California.


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