Cheryl Edwards Tannenberg

Of Counsel

Cheryl has over thirty-five years’ experience as a trial attorney.  Cheryl believes in aggressively representing her clients to achieve the outcome that is in her client’s best interest, whether that involves structuring a settlement that aligns with the client’s goals or going through trial to resolve the issues. She considers different options to solve disputes that will benefit her clients. 
For over twenty-five years, Cheryl has focused her practice on representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries, and heirs in trust, estate, conservatorship and financial elder abuse matters.  Cheryl started her career litigating real estate, business, banking, personal injury and insurance disputes.  This experience has given her the ability to litigate these issues in connection with trusts and estates.
In addition to litigation, Cheryl advises clients on pre-litigation issues and resolution of pre-litigation controversies.  She represents trustees and beneficiaries in trust administration with the goal of avoiding litigation.

Professional Recognition

  • Super Lawyers, 2008 – present
  • San Diego Magazine’s Top Attorneys, 2013 – present
  • Master, William B. Enright Chapter of the American Inns of Court, 2003 - present
  • Judge Pro Tem and Settlement Officer of the Probate Court of the San Diego Superior Court, 2012 – present
  • Co-Chair of the Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section of the San Diego County Bar Association, 2006-2007

Professional Admissions & Affiliations

  • State Bar of California (Member, Trusts & Estates Section)
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the Central District of California, and the Northern District of California
  • U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • San Diego County Bar Association (Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section)
  • Probate Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, North County Estate Planning Council – San Diego, 2012 - 2018
  • Member, University of San Diego School of Law Alumni Board of Directors, 2001 – 2005

Representative Matters
Probate, Trust, and Conservatorship Matters

  • Represented heirs of intestate decedent in dispute over separate versus community property in $12+ million estate – resolved by favorable settlement
  • Represented beneficiary and heir in a will contest involving $1 billion estate – dismissed in favorable settlement
  • Represented trustee in two trust contests which were favorably settled and trust administration of $15 million trust which included multiple properties, investments, and deeds of trust
  • Represented professional fiduciary in dispute over ownership of $5+million in U.S. bank accounts owned by Mexican decedent – settled favorably for heirs
  • Successfully defended several trust contests at trial
  • Represented professional trustees in obtaining court orders to modify irrevocable trusts to benefit trustees and beneficiaries
  • Defended charitable beneficiaries in a claim by surviving spouse to right to $4.4 million trust; obtained a favorable buyout of charities’ remainder interest in trust
  • Represented claimant in petition for return of assets taken from elder by undue influence, including return of art in possession of Sotheby’s – obtained verdict and treble damages at trial
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of corporate trustee in lawsuit by beneficiaries of trust for breach of fiduciary duty in management of education trust
  • Represented claimants in trust contest involving $5+ million – settled favorably
  • Defended trustee in “palimony” claim – reached favorable settlement that allowed trust to keep property and majority of trust assets
  • Defended Estate of Florence Chadwick against claim by third parties who claimed ownership of her valuable Point Loma property based on an oral agreement – prevailed at trial
  • Represented multiple trustees – professional and nonprofessional – in defending contested trust accountings
  • Represented parties in multiple contested probate conservatorship proceedings, both through trial and through settlement

Trust Administration Matters

  • Represented trustee in administration of multimillion dollar trust involving professional auctions of over 900 items of art and antiques, and sale of property and investments
  • Represented trustees in a trust administration and a companion probate of properties, investments, closely held corporations and intangible assets
  • Represented both beneficiaries and trustees in trust administrations

Publications & Presentations

  • Co-Author, AB 1596, Amendment to Welf. & Inst. Code §15657.03 (2010) [expanded the availability of elder abuse restraining orders]
  • Presenter, “How Estate Planners Keep Litigators in Business, Most Commonly Litigated Drafting Issues & How They Can Be Avoided,” Scripps Health Foundation Professional Advisers Seminar, October 4, 2017
  • Presenter, “Implementing an Estate Plan: The Realities that Fiduciaries and Administrators Face,” The North County Estate Planning Council – San Diego, March 4, 2014
  • Presenter, "Estate Planning Pitfalls Leading to Litigation," San Diego County Bar Association, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section, March 21, 2013
  • Presenter, “Trial Skills,” Probate Attorneys of San Diego, 2013
  • Presenter, “Conservatorships,” San Diego Paralegal Association, 2013
  • Presenter, “Probate Appeals,” San Diego County Bar Association,” September 14, 2012
  • Presenter, “What is a ‘Prudent Investor’? Practical Issues for Fiduciaries,” San Diego Planned Giving Council, 2012
  • Presenter, “Litigation by and Against Fiduciaries,” Professional Fiduciary Association of California Conference, April 2012
  • Presenter, “What is a ‘Prudent Investor’? Practical Issues for Fiduciaries,” Scripps Health Foundation Professional Advisers Seminar, January 2011
  • Presenter, “Litigation Involving Trustees: Strategies to Avoid Fiduciary Liability” Professional Fiduciary Association of California Conference, May 2010
  • Presenter, "Financial Elder Abuse: A View from the Trenches," San Diego County Bar Association, Elder Law Section, October 6, 2009
  • Presenter, “Trends in Trust and Estates Litigation,” La Jolla Probate Section, January 7, 2009
  • Presenter, “Probate Litigation,” National Business Institute Seminar “Probate Practice: The Essential Basics,” December 2008
  • Presenter, “Practical Issues of the Prudent Investor Act,” Scripps Health Foundation Professional Advisers Seminar, 2008
  • Presenter, “Understanding Financial Elder Abuse – the Scams, Legal Remedies and the Role of the Fiduciary,” Professional Fiduciary Association of California Conference Conference, September 2008
  • Presenter, “Litigation Involving Trustees: Strategies to Avoid Fiduciary Liability” Professional Fiduciary Association of California Conference, 2007
  • Presenter, “Understanding Trustee and Executor Liability Issues,” Casa de las Campanas, June 7, 2007
  • Presenter, “Advanced Deposition Techniques,” San Diego County Bar Association, November 2006
  • Counsel of Record, Scripps Health v. Marin (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 324
  • Counsel of Record, Petersen v. Securities Settlement Corp. (1991) 226 Cal.App.3d 1445
  • Author, “Political Asylum and Withholding of Deportation: Defining the Appropriate Standard of Proof Under the Refugee Act of 1980,” 1983 San Diego L. Rev. 171


Cheryl received her Bachelor of Arts with distinction from San Diego State University in 1976 and her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego, School of Law in 1984, where she was a member of the San Diego Law Review. Cheryl previously practiced at Kirby & McGuinn APC, and Hinchy Witte Wood Anderson & Hodges.

Cheryl Tannenberg portrait


Cheryl Tannenberg, Esq.

Witham Mahoney & Abbott, LLP

401 B Street, Suite 2220
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619.407.0505