Catherine M. Swafford

Partner | San Diego, San Francisco

Catherine is a partner in the trust, estate and inheritance disputes team.

She practices exclusively in trust, estate, conservatorship, elder abuse and fiduciary litigation. Her practice includes representing clients in will and trust contests, elder abuse actions, breach of fiduciary duty and accounting cases, conservatorships, intestacy and heirship disputes, contract to make a will disputes, creditor claim disputes and related litigation and administration matters brought under the California Probate Code. Catherine has extensive experience litigating cases from the initial stage of filing a petition through discovery, including depositions, and finally through mediations, trial, and post-judgment.

Catherine represents beneficiaries, heirs, fiduciaries, charities, creditors and related clients in Probate and Civil Court. While based in San Diego, Catherine’s practice is state wide throughout California. She has appeared in many Probate and Civil Courts throughout the state. Catherine has also developed special expertise in probate disputes involving issues of foreign law and international beneficiaries. She has experience representing clients in cross-border probate matters involving other jurisdictions such as Mexico, Switzerland, Russia, China, Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands and Hungary. She also regularly advises clients who have beneficial interests in California but reside in foreign jurisdictions.

Catherine is actively involved in the legal community. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Probate Attorneys of San Diego (PASD), where she is the incoming chair of the Education Committee. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Estate Planning Council of San Diego, where she is Secretary. She also serves as court-appointed counsel for the San Diego Probate Court. Catherine is a frequent speaker in the community on a wide range of topics. She also is a contributing author of numerous publications, including CEB Practitioner™ attorney-drafted templates, the Litigation Alert in the California Trusts & Estates Quarterly, the California Decedent Estate Practice Guide, the California Civil Practice – Probate & Trust Proceedings Practice Guide and the California Code of Probate Forms book.

While devoted to her law practice, Catherine is the proud mother of 4 young children. She takes great pride in being able to contribute to the community both as an attorney and as a mother.

Secretary Laura Spycia


Katie is an exceptional litigator, a great strategist and a wonderful, compassionate person. I can only praise her. She is a great asset.

Chambers High Net Worth Guide, 2021

[Katie] is wise beyond her age. I am very impressed with her and her work.

Chambers High Net Worth Guide, 2021





State of California, 2005

‘Tom Petty’s Daughters File $5 Million Civil Lawsuit Against His Widow,’ Digital Music News - May 16, 2019, quoted

MCLE Article: Wine Not? The New California Trust Decanting Act,’ California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Vol. 25 Issue 1 - 2019, co-author

Estate Planning Council of San Diego, Board of Directors, Secretary

North County Estate Planning Council

San Diego County Bar Association, Trusts & Estates Section

‘Case and Statutory Updates in Estate, Trust and Probate Law and California Fiduciary Regulations,’ The 26th Annual PFAC Educational Conference - August 26, 2021, co-presenter

‘Wine Not? California’s Decanting Act,’ Estate Planning and Trust Council of Long Beach - June 3, 2021, co-presenter

‘Stay Ahead of the Curve: Hot Topics in Trust and Estate Law,’ North County Estate Planning Council webinar - May 4, 2021, co-presenter

Me in a minute

My practice enables me to have a significant, direct impact on the lives of my clients

I am passionate about my law practice because it enables me to have a significant, direct impact on the lives of my clients. I maintain close relationships with my clients and enjoy supporting, counseling, and advising them in what are usually difficult, emotional family disputes. I especially take pride in helping to rectify and resolve situations where elder abuse has occurred. Outside of the office, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three young children (two of whom are twins). I also enjoy attending UCLA football games, hosting get-togethers for friends and family, cooking, baking and traveling.



  • English





San Diego

101 West Broadway,

Suite 1000,

CA 92101

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San Francisco

505 Sansome Street,

2nd Floor,

CA 94111

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