Ms. Cataldo’s legal practice has focused primarily on trust and estate litigation for over twenty years, including matters involving will and trust contests, breach of fiduciary duty, and elder financial abuse. She has represented private fiduciaries, trustees, beneficiaries, and heirs both in defending and challenging the validity of estate planning documents and in various administration disputes, including accounting disputes and breach of fiduciary duty cases. She has also litigated a number of general business and real estate matters, including partnership disputes, boundary disputes, unlawful detainers, and quiet title disputes.
Ms. Cataldo is also an experienced mediator, having acted as a Temporary Judge for the Probate Court in connection with mandatory settlement conferences as well as serving as a private mediator in trust and estate litigation matters. Her professional manner, deep understanding of both family dynamics and monetary considerations, and her calm approach to settlement, has been highly successful in settling even the most difficult of cases.
Litigation is expensive, time consuming, and stressful to all parties involved. Ms. Cataldo brings an even-tempered approach to this process. She is sensitive to the cost of litigation, yet is also aggressive when necessary in fighting for her client’s rights. As one client put it, “Mary looks like everybody’s Grandma, but underneath is a bulldog when it comes to her client’s interests.”
Prior to White and Bright, Ms. Cataldo was Senior Counsel with one of the largest local law firms in San Diego. She has engaged in the practice of litigation for her entire career and began focusing on trust and estate litigation even before she became an attorney in 1994. Virtually all of her time as a lawyer has been focused on the unique needs of North San Diego County. She is highly respected by both the Court and her colleagues.
Ms. Cataldo serves on the Board of Directors of the Probate Attorneys of San Diego (PASD). She served as President of the North County Bar Association (2010) and served two terms on that organization’s Board of Directors.
Ms. Cataldo is a frequent speaker at various events across the state, including the Professional Fiduciaries Association of California, the Probate Attorneys of San Diego County, and the Bar Association of Northern San Diego County. She created and conducted training programs for the Superior Court of California, North County Division. She has served as an Adjunct Professor for the University of San Diego and for Palomar College, teaching classes in Civil Litigation, Business Law, and Torts.