Jeffrey S. Galvin

Jeffrey S. Galvin


Jeffrey S. Galvin


Jeff Galvin represents clients in trust and estate litigation in Sacramento County, across Northern California, and in Northern Nevada.

He advises trustees and executors who find themselves in conflict with beneficiaries, and he helps beneficiaries assert their rights in trust and probate estates.  He prosecutes and defends trust contests and will contests, which often raise issues of mental capacity, undue influence, and elder financial abuse.  He also handles contested matters in conservatorships.

With a background in business litigation, Jeff has developed a practice focused on the growing area of trust and estate disputes.  He helps clients understand their rights and duties, looks for cost-effective solutions, pursues information through the discovery process, uses mediation when appropriate, and brings matters to trial.

Jeff brings an assertive, thoughtful and experienced approach to this often emotionally-charged area of litigation.  He collaborates with colleagues at the firm who handle estate planning and trust/probate administration.  He speaks often on trust and estate litigation topics, and he edits Pathways, the firm’s trust and estate newsletter.

Jeff continues to handle business litigation in addition to his trust and estate cases, with a special interest in the areas of unfair competition and false advertising.


Jeff has successfully resolved the following trust and estate disputes:

  • Represented a successor trustee who defended his father’s trust and will against his step-mother’s contest on a theory of undue influence.  The judge ruled in favor of Jeff’s client following a 25-day trial that featured testimony from forensic psychiatrists and other witnesses.  Judgment affirmed on appeal with costs awarded to client. 
  • Represented co-trustees sued for terminating family members who were acting as property managers of a trust-owned shopping center.  After a four-day hearing, the arbitrator ruled in favor of Jeff’s clients and awarded them more than $200,000 in legal expenses.
  • Represented a trustee in a petition to settle an accounting.  After a two-day trial, the judge overruled the objections of the trustee’s siblings/beneficiaries.
  • Appealed from an adverse ruling after a two-day trial and persuaded the Court of Appeal to overrule the judge’s order removing and surcharging his trustee client.
  • Represented an institutional fiduciary as beneficiary of a trust in a dispute over a general partner’s handling of a limited partnership that owned a valuable property near Lake Tahoe.  After two-day arbitration, the judge ruled in favor of Jeff’s client.
  • Represented claimant in $15M conservatorship dispute regarding validity of holographic (handwritten) will.  Case resolved successfully for client after trial began.
  • Represented clients who alleged that family member breached his oral promises to keep assets in the family by executing will and trust favoring non-family members. Recovered valuable real estate asset for clients in settlement agreement. 
  • Represented clients in contested conservatorship proceeding and trust amendment contest involving their mother. Conservator appointed.

Jeff’s other litigation experience includes the following:

  • Represented national bank in trial against large insurance company. Pierced corporate veil to hold affiliated corporation liable.  Prevailed on appeal and collected $2.1M judgment for client.
  • Represented truck manufacturer in administrative trial before California New Motor Vehicle Board regarding termination of dealer.  Agency upheld termination.
  • Represented Sacramento City Unified School District in challenge to charter school at Sacramento High campus.  Case resolved favorably for client.
  • Represented defendant accused of defamation in the context of political commentary. Won special motion to strike on First Amendment ground.
  • Represented large grocery chain in successful appeal involving scope of state constitutional right to circulate petitions.
  • Represented challengers to California's 2001 redistricting plan in trial court and on appeal.
  • Represented delivery company in statewide class action involving status of individuals as independent contractors or employees.  Limited scope of certified class.
  • While working at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, Jeff investigated and sued businesses engaged in deceptive practices in federal courts around the country.

Jeff also has substantial appellate experience, having argued five appeals before the California Court of Appeal and one appeal before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Pro Bono Coordinator, Downey Brand LLP, 2001-2008, 2011-present
  • Master and Barrister Member, Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, 2010-present
  • Member, Litigation Subcommittee, State Bar Trusts and Estates Section
  • Director and Technology Chair, Sacramento Estate Planning Council 
  • Member, Washoe County Bar Association
  • Former Director, Linking Education and Economic Development
  • Former Director, Diogenes Youth Services
  • Former Director, Legal Services of Northern California and the Voluntary Legal Services Program
  • Former Vice-Chair and Member, Sacramento County Bar Association Judiciary Committee
  • Editor, Pathways, a trust and estate newsletter from Downey Brand LLP

Honors And Rankings

  • AV® Preeminent™ Rating by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Sacramento Business Journal, Best of the Bar, 2015
  • Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers List, 2015 – Litigation-General
  • Attorney Delegate from the Eastern District of California to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable John G. Davies, United States District Court, Central District of California

The Downey Brand Story

With deep experience in our clients' industries, Downey Brand provides the vision and coverage you need.

Advancing your interests