Steve Grabenstein is the President of the Van Winkle Law Firm where he focuses his practice on will contests, trust and estate disputes and fiduciary related claims. A talented litigator, he has handled numerous will caveat proceedings, suits involving trusts and trustees, fiduciary litigation as well as complex commercial actions and wrongful death claims. He also represents families in guardianship proceedings. Grabenstein is also a certified mediator and in that role has helped hundreds of individuals negotiate and settle a wide variety of cases. In addition, Grabenstein has been trained in the collaborative law approach to resolving disputes outside of court.


Awards & Honors

  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2020, Asheville Area - Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Trusts and Estates, Trusts and Estates
  • Lawyer of the Year, Asheville Area – The Best Lawyers in America® 2020 – Litigation – Trusts and Estates - 2 years
  • Super Lawyers in Trust and Estate Litigation since 2012
  • Best Lawyers in Trust and Estate Litigation since 2011

Practice Highlights

  • Led The Van Winkle Law Firm’s successful efforts in regaining control of more than $10 million in assets for an elderly client.
  • Preserved an inheritance for three daughters who were told their father had no assets when he died. Following review of banking and financial records, Steve successfully negotiated an $800,000 settlement for the daughters.
  • Recovered $350,000 for the beneficiaries of a trust in a case where he alleged the Trustee had made inappropriate distributions from the Trust.
  • Successfully turned back a challenge to a will probated in Arizona thereby preserving a substantial bequest to a non-profit in Western North Carolina.
  • Led efforts to resolve the distribution of an estate worth more than $2.5 million where there was considerable confusion and uncertainty regarding the provisions of a will and trust.
  • Has obtained favorable outcomes for several clients with claims involving management of investment accounts.
  • Stopped efforts to probate a copy of a lost will so that the bulk of the decedent’s estate, worth more than one million dollars, passed to his two daughters.


  • University of Tennessee, Juris Doctor, 1982
  • University of Tennessee, Bachelor’s Degree, 1979

Professional Affiliations

  • Buncombe County Bar
  • Harry C. Martin American Inns of Court
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • North Carolina State Bar
  • Tennessee State Bar

Community Involvement

  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Former Board Member
  • Evergreen Community Charter School, Former Board Member
  • Haw Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Former Board Member
  • Literary Council, Former Board Member
  • Pisgah Legal Services, Former Board Member
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church, Former Vestry Member

When not in the office, Steve enjoys hiking, traveling, gardening and playing drums with area musicians.

  • Favorite Places to Travel: Anywhere with good hiking and/or snorkeling