Protecting Estates.
Protecting Legacies.

James P. Cilley

  • Litigation Partner


Danville, CA



(408) 998-9700


James P. Cilley is certified as a Specialist in trust and estate litigation, fiduciary disputes, and elder abuse actions by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He is also AV® PreeminentTM Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® for his legal ability and high ethical standards in the areas of trusts and estates, wills and probate, and law related to the aged and aging.

As the senior litigation partner at Temmerman, Cilley, Kohlmann & Norcia, LLP, Mr. Cilley's practice involves will and trust contests, elder abuse, fiduciary accounting, fiduciary removal and surcharge, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive and resulting trusts, interpretation of testamentary instruments, creditor's claims, conservatorships, and related appeals. Mr. Cilley handles every stage of litigation, including pre-lawsuit negotiation, discovery, law and motion, settlement negotiations, mediation, trial, and appeals. He has more than 22 years of experience serving as lead attorney in many of Northern California's largest probate and trust cases. Mr. Cilley has substantial trial experience in contested probate cases before a wide variety of California trial and appellate courts. He has participated in all forms of alternative dispute resolution.

In addition to his exceptional legal services, Mr. Cilley serves as an expert witness on a wide range of legal issues supported by current and relevant case law, statutes, and secondary resources.

Areas Of Practice

  • Trust and Estates litigation

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Specialist in the field of Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law, State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, 1998

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1993


  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, Sacramento, California
    • J.D. - 1993
    • Honors: With Distinction
  • San Jose State University
    • B.S., Bachelor of Science - 1990
    • Major: Business Finance

Published Works

  • Author, Chapter 7: “Asserting or Defending Claim Regarding Ownership of Trust Property” , Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trust, 2001
  • Author, “When is a Lis Pendens a Viable Provisional Remedy in Probate Cases” , The Scrivener, Silicon Valley Bar Association, 4th Quarter, 2005

Classes / Seminars

  • Speaker, “He’s in Love With Her! A Mock Trial,” Silicon Valley Bar Association (2012)
  • Speaker, “Practical Asset Management in Today’s Economy” (CEB) (2010)
  • Speaker, “Practical Problems in Probate” (CEB) (2009)
  • Speaker, “Recent Developments,” Fremont Estate Planning Council (2007)
  • Speaker, “Estate Planning and Administration: 22nd Annual Recent Developments” (CEB) (2007)
  • Speaker, “Changing Our Plans in 2007,” Silicon Valley Bar Association (2006)
  • Speaker, “Recent Developments,” Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) 11th Annual Educational Conference (2006)
  • Speaker, “Trustee and Fiduciary Standards of Care and Liability Issues,” Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) Annual Conference (2005)
  • Speaker, “Elder Abuse: The Domestic Violence and Financial Embezzlement Problem of the 21st Century,” State Bar of California, San Francisco and Santa Clara County Estate Planning Council (2003)
  • Speaker, “Trustee Standard of Care” & “Trustee Reporting Duties,” Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) Annual Conference (2002)
  • Speaker, co-presented “Probate Code § 21320 – Care Custodian Beneficiaries,” Santa Clara County Bar Association, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section (2000)
  • Speaker, co-presented “The Finality of Judgments, Are They Really Final?” & “Statute of Limitations on Claims Based upon the Liability of Deceased Settlors,” Northern Trust Companies Association Seventh Annual Education Program (1998)
  • Speaker, “Anatomy of a Trial,” Santa Clara County Bar Association & Contra Costa County Bar Association Estate Planning and Trust Sections, Northern Trust Bank Trust Forum (1997)

Past Lists

Honors And Awards

  • Peer Review Rated AV® Preeminent™, Martindale Hubbell

Professional Associations And Memberships

  • Santa Clara County Estate Planning Council, Member, Present
  • California Lawyers Association, Member, Present
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association, Member, Present
  • Silicon Valley Bar Association, Member, Present

Past Employment Positions

  • Temmerman & Desmarais, LLP, San Jose, Associate, 1996 to 1998
  • Lakin Spears, LLP, Palo Alto, Associate, 1994 to 1996


  • English
State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
AV Preeminent | LexisNexis | Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Review Rated | For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability | 2011
Rated By Super Lawyers | Temmerman, Cilley, Kohlmann & Norcia, LLP | Selected in 2018 | Thomson Reuters