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A REAL ESTATE AGENT WHO CARES Kathy Barzal: Our Colleague for Over a Decade I’ve been working in real estate for over 13 years, and if I had to describe my career in one word, it would have to be rewarding. I love connecting people with their dream home and guiding them through the real estate process. Over the years, many of my clients have become friends, and many of my friends have become clients. There’s something about helping people buy or sell a home that allows a real bond to be formed over the course of the process, and I don’t take that for granted.
& Gonzalez gives them the security that comes from knowing that their wishes will be protected in addition to their property. What stands out to me about Merlino & Gonzalez and their team is their level of customer service and their ability to get the job done. The same way that I have made friends with clients over the years, John and Ken strive to be lifelong aides to theirs. Merlino & Gonzalez isn’t the type of firm you call once and never speak to again. They are there whenever you need them. And I know that from experience, because my husband and I hired Ken to help us with our estate planning. I guess there’s no greater compliment that I can provide them than that one. When I’m not at work, it’s a safe bet that I’m spending time with my husband and my son. My son is 12 and plays football, so weekends during the spring and fall are all about watching him play. As a family, we are also heavily involved with the Staten Island Giving Circle, a nonprofit that supports people in need in our area. It means a lot to us to be able to give back to the community that’s given us such a wonderful life. I’m proud to work in a profession where I can help people make decisions that better their quality of life and set them up for a wonderful future. John and Ken feel the same way, which is why I’m so honored to work with them. Staten Island is lucky to have Merlino & Gonzalez. Kathy is a New York state licensed real estate salesperson serving Staten Island and Brooklyn. Go to KathyBarzal.com to see current listings and learn about Kathy. –Kathy Barzal
The focus on relationships and providing exceptional service is something I share with John Merlino and Ken Gonzalez. I first recommended that a client see them a few years ago, and I haven’t stopped doing it since. Often, my clients won’t just need a real estate lawyer, but also one who understands estate planning, which makes Merlino & Gonzalez the perfect law firm for them. Let’s say I’m working with an older couple who’s downsizing to a smaller home. By virtue of moving and going through the items in their home, they’re already doing some of the hard thinking that’s required during estate planning. If they haven’t already done formal planning with an attorney, downsizing provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Suggesting that my clients work with Merlino
HAVE A FUN AND SAFE HALLOWEEN! Even the Most Frightening Ghouls Need to Be Careful Before heading out for some good old-fashioned trick-or-treating, take the time to go over basic safety tips. Teach kids to look both ways before crossing, use crosswalks and traffic signals, cross streets on the corners, and never run across the street. Making eye contact with drivers before walking in front of their cars is also a good way to make sure the driver knows the child is there. CHOOSE SMART COSTUMES Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without costumes! They should be fun, but you can also make them safer by following a few simple guidelines. Add reflective tape to candy bags and costumes and wear light colors to stand out in the dark. Buying or making the right- sized costumes is also important. If they’re too large, they create a tripping hazard, and if they’re too tight, they can restrict movement. If your child wears a mask, make sure they can see out of it properly. MAKE A PLAN Before heading out to trick or treat, create a plan and discuss it with every member of your family. This ensures that if someone in your group wanders off, they’ll know where to look for you or where to go. In case you’re separated, label your child’s costume with your name, address, and phone number. If your children are old enough to trick or treat without adults, make sure that their cellphones are charged and on them at all times, and schedule regular check-ins. as to how they got there. After contacting relatives, though, they were told that every pet the family had was buried in those holes. Needless to say, buyers weren’t keen on living above a burial ground. DIY DONE WRONG Home improvement is a passion for many but a talent for few. There are countless stories of wild homemade fixes discovered during inspections: Saran-wrapped pipes, duct-taped framing, you name it. But we wanted to play special tribute to a Long Island homeowner who decided to support their awning with a pair of decrepit crutches, a design choice guaranteed to scare trick-or-treaters and inspectors alike. SURPRISE INSPECTION GUESTS During a routine carbon monoxide check, a Chicago inspector heard a knock at the door. That knock quickly became a rumble as a handful of ATF agents burst the door looking for the owner. The inspector was terrified, but quickly explained that he was not the person the agents were looking for. Oh, and the house did have elevated carbon monoxide levels, but we’re guessing the owner had bigger problems to deal with.
Happy Halloween, you goblins, ghouls, witches, and spooks! It’s that time of year again when kids and adults alike can dress up and roam the streets as their favorite heroes, frights, or princesses. While kids are eager to show off their outfits and fill their pillowcases with sugary treasures, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential dangers on Halloween night. PRACTICE STREET SAFETY Make sure your kids understand basic road safety. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, “Children are more likely to be struck by a vehicle and killed during Halloween than any other day of the year.”
CRAZY, SPOOKY HOME INSPECTION STORIES They Found What?
We’ve discussed the importance of a thorough, impartial home inspection before. When you’re buying a property, you want to make sure that everything is as advertised. A licensed inspector will make sure there’s nothing dangerous or unsatisfactory lurking within the home you want to purchase. While inspection discoveries are a normal part of the real estate process, sometimes an inspector will find something positively terrifying. In honor of Halloween, we wanted to share a few stories of creepy, bizarre inspection finds. A BUZZING PLUMBING VENT No inspection is complete without getting up on the roof to check for damage and hazards. When a Maryland inspector checked a plumbing vent stack, he was shocked to find a colony of hornets nesting within it. We’re sure that sent a shiver up his spine. REAL-LIFE PET CEMETERY Everyone wants to ensure that their four-legged loved ones have an appropriate final resting place, but one Connecticut family took that notion a little too far. After noticing several holes in the concrete basement floor of their property, inspectors were stumped
A Guardianship Questionnaire
FIND THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOUR FAMILY
Deciding who will raise your children in the event that something happens to you and your partner is no easy task. In fact, it’s probably an issue you don’t even want to think about at all. However, if you don’t take the time to establish a guardianship plan, the courts will decide who raises your kids. No child deserves that fate, and that’s why it’s so important to ask tough questions about guardianship before it’s too late. Of course, selecting a guardian is a decision that merits thoughtful consideration. A great way to narrow down a list of potential candidates is to ask yourself the following questions. WHO ARE ALL THE POTENTIAL CANDIDATES? Write down anyone who could conceivably care for your kids. As you answer the subsequent questions, cross names off the list. WILL THEY LIKELY LIVE FOR MANY MORE YEARS? Grandparents are a logical choice for guardianship, but they may be too old to be healthy and fit guardians by the time your youngest child is an adult. ARE THEY EQUIPPED FOR GUARDIANSHIP? Raising children requires energy, focus, and stamina in abundance. You’ll want to choose a guardian who can provide all three. DO THEY HAVE CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN? If your prospective guardians don’t have kids, you need to determine whether they’d be fit parents. If they do, you need to consider whether they have enough space on their plates for more.
WHAT ARE THEIR VIEWS ON SCHOOLING AND RELIGION? Parents often have beliefs about these topics that they hold very dear. An alignment of social and cultural values should be a quality you look for in potential guardians. WHERE DO THEY LIVE? Having to uproot children after they lose their parents can be incredibly jarring, so nearby guardians are preferable. However, distance shouldn’t be a complete deal-breaker. ARE THEY RECENTLY MARRIED? If you decide on a couple as guardians, you’ll need to also decide who takes care of your kids in the event of a divorce.
ARE THEY FINANCIALLY SECURE? You’ll be able to bequeath assets to your children, but they may not have access to them until they turn 18. In the meantime, you want to be sure they are in a financially stable environment. Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on these questions, it’s up to you to decide on the right person or people to raise your children in your stead. It may not but fun or easy, but it’s more than worth it.
‘HEADLESS’ APPLES ON HORSEBACK MICHELE’S RECIPE CORNER
take a break
• 16 very thin slices of pancetta (or cured, unsmoked bacon) • 2 pink lady apples • 3 ounces manchego cheese, 1/4 inch thick • Toothpicks for skewering INGREDIENTS
1. Core apples and cut each into 8 wedges. Remove rind of manchego cheese and cut into 2-inch sticks. 2. Heat a grill pan or skillet to medium-high. 3. On a cutting board, lay pancetta or bacon slices flat and place an apple wedge and piece of cheese in the center of each. 4. Roll pancetta tightly and skewer with toothpick. 5. Grill until cheese is melted and pancetta or bacon is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. 6. Drain excess grease on a paper towel and serve hot.
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718-698-2200 | realestateplanninglaw.com WE KEEP YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Spotlight on Kathy Barzal Trick-or-Treating Safety! Home Inspection Horror Stories How to Pick a Guardian ‘Headless’ Apples on Horseback The Birthplace of Halloween
County Meath, Ireland, Where Halloween Began THE REAL HALLOWEEN TOWN
Over 3,000 years ago, this Celtic festival was born in Meath and marked the end of the harvest. Samhain was celebrated with bonfires, offerings to fairies, and other rituals meant to keep evil spirits away. Many of these customs carried through the centuries and inspired Halloween traditions that are still practiced today. Today, Meath celebrates Oct. 31 with a blend of spooky thrills and traditional Samhain practices. The Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival starts with the lighting of the first torch fire of Samhain in Athboy, which kicks off a month of fun activities. If you like your Halloween extra spooky, the scream park, Farmaphobia, is waiting for you. And if you’re not a fan of screaming your head off, you can check out the Halloween-themed Spookling Afternoon Tea for fresh-baked treats and spirited conversation. The motto of this all-ages festival is “Fun by Day; Frights by Night,” meaning all the really scary ghosts wait until after sunset to come out. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween, from carving jack- o’-lanterns and eating chocolate to running for your life through a haunted corn maze. And in County Meath, you can celebrate Halloween in every possible way. For more info, visit www. Discoverboynevalley.ie/whats-on/spirits-meath-halloween-festival-2018.
Fans of Halloween don’t need to look far to find somewhere to celebrate their favorite holiday. There are festive parties all over the world, from New Orleans to London, but if you really want to embrace the spirit of Halloween, there’s no better destination than the birthplace of the holiday: County Meath, Ireland. Every year in Boyne Valley, the residents of County Meath throw a month-long Halloween celebration. The Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival attracts thousands of guests from all over the world, and while this festival has only been celebrated since 2009, many of the traditions observed here date back to ancient times. The ancient Irish weren’t trick-or-treating or visiting haunted houses on Oct. 31, but they were celebrating the pagan holiday Samhain.
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