Hon. Coleman A. Swart (Ret.)

T: 213-620-1133
F: 213-620-0100
Available nationwide
Estates/Probate/Trusts

Judge Swart served as the probate judge for the Northeast and North Central Districts of Los Angeles County for more than 15 years. His average weekly probate calendar averaged about 75 cases, and he presided over more than 50,000 cases in total as a probate judge. Judge Swart has extensive experience resolving disputes involving contests, intestate administration, bonds, admission of holographic wills, codicils, spendthrift clauses, no-contest clauses, testamentary capacity, undue influence, caretaker restrictions, and accounting issues. He has considerable experience handling trust disputes, including testamentary, intervivos, marital deduction, and generation skipping trusts, as well as other issues that can arise in trust administration. These issues include fiduciary duty, safe harbor petitions, conservatorships of person and estates, quiet title actions, 850 PC petitions, elder abuse issues, sales of real and personal property, and probate auctions.

Representative Matters

  • Heard and decided as judge court dispute involving high-profile musician’s estate and trusts, with issues litigated including paternity of minor child, family allowance, misfeasance of trustee, and accounting issues
  • Heard and decided as judge dependent relevant revocation case that stands as leading case on issue, with decision affirmed on appeal and cert denied by Supreme Court
  • Heard and decided as judge safe harbor petition and subsequent trust administration case involving trustee owners of historic museum seeking permission to charge public admission fees to library and gardens, with fees not permitted by terms of trust written in 1930s. Forfeiture clause could have had entire estate escheat to another museum if violated.
  • Mediated and settled co-trustee’s claims that another co-trustee mismanaged trust assets, with the value of the assets to be distributed to beneficiaries in dispute
  • Mediated to settlement case involving beneficiaries’ mismanagement and violation of fiduciary duty claims against non-familial trustee overseeing administration of testamentary trust
  • Mediated to settlement complicated trust dispute between beneficiaries and trustees involving accounting issues, as well as management and distribution of assets
  • Mediation regarding approval of final trust accounting, payment of trustee fees, and reimbursement of trustee costs by successor trustee
  • Reached global settlement in dispute involving alleged wrongdoing by sole trustee, as well as limited partner’s wrongdoing claim against trustee as sole general partner of family partnership business entity
  • Resolved as mediator holographic will dispute between caregiver and heirs over ownership of testator’s estate
  • Settled breach of fiduciary duty, misfeasance removal, and lack of accounting claims against executor of will and trustee of trust with assets consisting of limited partnerships, real property, and brokerage accounts
  • Settled multi-million-dollar mediation among adult siblings over family trust involving accounting, undue influence, and capacity issues
  • Special trustee appointment involving sale of real property
  • Trust dispute regarding administration of the trust and the suspension and removal of trustee 
  • Trust mediation over alleged breach of fiduciary duty related to the unauthorized use of trust funds

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Judge of the Year, Pasadena Bar Association, 2001
  • Chair, Los Angeles County Superior Court Personnel and Budget Committee, 1995-1996, 2006-2008
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court Executive Committee, 1993-1994, 2002-2003
  • California Trial Court Budget Commission, 1993-1998
  • Former member, Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association
  • Former Trustee, Occidental College
  • Past President, Occidental College Alumni Association
  • "Spinning Others' Tales," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, June 8, 2012

Background and Education

  • Judge, Los Angeles County Superior Court, 1983-2008
    • Supervising Judge, North Central and Northeast Districts, 2004-2008
    • Independent Civil Calendar Court and Probate Judge, 1995-2003
    • Supervising Judge, Pasadena Courthouse, 1993-1994
    • Civil Trial Court Judge, 1991-1992
    • Fast Track Civil Court Judge, Central District, 1989-1990
    • Criminal Trial Judge, 1983-1988

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