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Ralph E. Hughes

Ralph E. Hughes is a shareholder focusing on Probate and Trust Administration, Probate and Trust Litigation, and related mediation.

Ralph received his law degree from the University California, Berkeley in 1976. Shortly thereafter, he moved to San Diego. Since that time, he has been involved in all aspects of probate, estate planning, trust and probate administration, and related litigation. He is a member of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), and is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law.

Ralph is affiliated with West Coast Resolution Center and conducts mediations through that organization. He has participated in well over 100 mediations.

In his leisure time, Ralph spends much of his time outdoors. He enjoys reading and traveling, both domestic and foreign.


  • Founded the firm with Robert Pizzuto
  • BA, University of Denver
  • JD, University of California, Berkeley

Affiliations & Accolades

California Bar, member since 1976

American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), 2019-present

California Lawyers Association

  • Member, Executive Committee of the Trusts & Estates Section (TEXCOM), 2016-2022
  • Executive Editor, California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, 2021-2022
  • Chair, Legal Ethics Subcommittee, 2021-2022
  • Contributor, Guide to the California Rules of Professional Conduct for Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Counsel (Fourth Edition), 2021

California Western School of Law

  • Adjunct Professor (Estate Planning), 1990-2005

State Bar of California

  • Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Advisory Commission (1995-1999), Chair (1999)

San Diego County Bar Association

  • Chair, Trust and Estate Section (2009-2010)
  • Chair, Bench-Bar Committee (2011)

Probate Attorneys of San Diego

Super Lawyers®, 2013 to present

Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent

West Coast Resolution Group, Mediator

Representative Cases *

  • Ike v Doolittle (1998) 61 Cal.App. 4th 51
  • Hammer v Laycock (2006) 41 Cal.App. 4th 25 (trial attorney, assisted with the brief)
  • King v Johnston (2009) 178 Cal.App 4th 1488

* We make no guarantee or prediction that we will be successful in new matters, even if they involve similar facts and circumstances, or that we are successful in all matters. Results in any matter are not necessarily indicative of or similar to results in other matters.


The Rise of the Revocable Trust in California, Cal. Trusts & Estates Quarterly, Vol. 29, Issue 2 (2023), (co-author with Anne Rudolph)

King Lear and A Thousand Acres – Two Estate Planning Tragedies With Timeless Lessons for Modern Estate Planning Attorneys, California Trusts & Estates Quarterly, Vol. 27, Issue 4 (2021), (co-author with Anne Rudolph)

North to Alaska for an Ante-Mortem Probate, California Trusts & Estates Quarterly, Vol. 26, Issue 2 (2020), (co-author with Anne Rudolph)

California’s Statutory Will Needs an Update to Keep Up with Duke, California Trusts & Estates Quarterly, Vol. 26, Issue 2 (2020), (co-author with Anne Rudolph)

A Lawyer is a Lawyer is a Lawyer, California Trusts & Estates Quarterly, Vol. 25, Issue 1 (2019), (co-author with Anne Rudolph)
This article played a significant role in a recent change in California law clarifying that an appointed attorney has a duty to represent the interests of the conservatee or potential conservatee that the attorney has been appointed to represent, as those interests are determined by the client.

Reintroduction of the Term “Trustee de son tort” to the California Trust Lexicon, California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Winter, 2010

When Worlds Collide: The Privacy Challenge to Casual Use of Protected Medical Information in Probate Courts and Estate Planning, Estate Planning and California Probate Reporter, June 2003
This article may have been the first article published in California on the impact of HIPAA on the practices of estate planners and probate practitioners.

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