“I became a lawyer so I could help people navigate the law – and therefore the world – more effectively.”
Academic & Professional Success
Obtaining his J.D. at Texas A&M University School of Law, Daniel served on the law review staff and was chosen as a teaching assistant for one of the most demanding of all law school classes: Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing. He graduated magna cum laude, near the top of his school class.
Prior to his time at Texas A & M, Daniel attended the University of Toronto, where he earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies and nurtured his life-long love of writing at the college newspaper. Over the years, Daniel has published dozens of articles, served as copy editor of an academic journal, served on the board of reviewers of three professional journals, and taught graduate students how to research and write.
Between college and law school, Daniel took time to pick up an M.A. in Theology and Theological Studies from the University of Dallas and a Ph.D. from Saint Louis University in Historical Theology.
This attentive, efficient attorney started his career working for the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, Texas, where he learned first hand how judges analyze cases and draft opinions—and developed a deep understanding and respect for the legal process.
He has since worked in high-profile law firms where he specialized in commercial litigation, probate, and estate planning, with a focus on matters involving deceased persons in federal, district, and probate courts.
He also served as an associate professor at both the University of Dallas and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.
As a litigation attorney specializing in probate and trust cases, Daniel became known for his ability and willingness to explain to his clients the expensive and often emotionally draining process of probate. “I often found,” Daniel recalls, “that probate litigation re-opened old wounds of conflict and resentment, thereby making the death of someone close even more difficult to bear.” Reflecting on this experience, Daniel concluded that he could best serve his clients by helping them avoid probate litigation entirely through careful estate planning.
Today, Daniel says that although he has experienced many successes in court and benefitted many clients, he is most proud when he learns something new about the practice of law, as it is continually changing: “I pride myself in keeping abreast of estate planning law. When I understand the law, explain it clearly to my clients, and apply it to their advantage, I have done well.”
Daniel’s ability to go straight to the solution of a problem is illustrated by a case he recently handled in which real property had been transferred into the living trust of a deceased couple. Although there was a plan in place, unfortunately, no one had a copy of the trust or knew who the successor trustee was, a basic but terrible trust mistake!
Daniel petitioned the court to appoint a successor trustee, and then worked with them on a plan to liquidate the property and distribute the proceeds among the couple’s heirs. The plan cleared title to the property, paid the couple’s creditors, and left money for their beneficiaries. Of the experience, Daniel says, “I love finding solutions to legal issues that prove to be a win-win for everyone involved.”
A Willingness to Help
Among the pro bono work Daniel has done, his favorite has been working with indigent elderly inner-city residents at State Bar-sponsored “wills clinics.” About this work, Daniel says he enjoys relieving clients’ anxieties about protecting their loved ones and about where their few, but precious possessions will go when they pass on.
Daniel also advises non-profit organizations with a focus on religious education.
Enjoying Southern California
Daniel lives in the Los Angeles area, and he says his neighborhood reminds him of his family’s estate on a lake in New York State, where he spent many a happy summer day boating, fishing, and waterskiing.
You might find him in an art museum, enjoying classical music, cruising on a motorcycle, swimming, hiking, or swing dancing. Daniel is happiest when he is learning, so he often listens to audiobooks and podcasts, and reads in Latin, French, Spanish, or Italian.
Contact Us Today
Daniel G. Van Slyke and our full team of attorneys can help you with advanced Estate & Tax Planning from any of our offices throughout Northern and Southern California. We offer in-person, phone, and Zoom appointments. Request an appointment online or call (866) 988-3956.
At CunninghamLegal, we guide savvy, caring families in the protection and transfer of multi-generational wealth.