Merlino & Gonzalez May 2018

Take a look at our newsletter this month!

May 2018





Charles Internicola on Merlino & Gonzalez

point; it’s a philosophy that informs every aspect of their practice. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside John and Ken with the aim of stepping up their marketing game. I taught them a few systems, but they ran with it beyond my wildest expectations. Their enthusiasm for improving their practice as a business parallels their desire to go above and beyond for their clients. No matter what they are doing, you can expect the team at Merlino & Gonzalez to give it their all. Their willingness to collaborate with other firms is also a breath of fresh air. One of the great challenges in the legal industry is that attorneys are rarely prepared to run a business. Because of this, new firms sometimes create adversarial relationships with their peers. Not John and Ken. They view other firms as their colleagues and realize that no one firm can do it all. When I have a client in need of real estate or estate-planning services, I send them to Merlino & Gonzalez. They do the same for us when they have a client seeking business law advice. Collaboration between firms can do a lot more for people than petty competition. John and Ken understand this. Since we’ve been friends for so long, I’ve also visited the Merlino & Gonzalez office many times. I’ll tell you, John’s “Star Wars” art is the best artwork I’ve ever seen in a law office. I’ve also learned that Ken doesn’t age as quickly as the rest of us. He’s eternally in his late 30s. I don’t know how he does it, especially since I’ve never been to their office without seeing him eat some cake. John, Ken, and everyone at Merlino & Gonzalez are incredible people whom I’m proud to call friends. I wish all law firms could have the relationship that we have. Charles Internicola, Esq.

We’ve featured some of our wonderful clients in the newsletter before, but I wanted to do something a little different this month. Charles Internicola, Esq. of the Internicola Law Firm has been a mentor to our practice — I like to think of him as a combination of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi — and helped us in numerous ways. Charles, his partner Brian Lincer, Esq., and the entire team at Internicola Law Firm have been our friends and colleagues for many years. I’m honored to have Charles share a few words in the newsletter. You can learn more about the Internicola Law Firm at

I have been friends with John Merlino for so long that I can’t even remember how we met. I know that it was through a professional connection, but the details are hazy. However that initial meeting happened, I do know that we’ve been friends ever since. John is among the most outgoing, humble, and generous people I’ve ever met. Not long after meeting John, he referred a client to me who needed help filing for a trademark. It wasn’t something we’d discussed doing. John just knew our firm had experience with this type of work and wanted to put his client in the right hands. That’s John in a nutshell. He always puts the needs of his clients first. As I grew to know Ken Gonzalez and the rest of the team at Merlino & Gonzalez, it became clear that everyone at their firm shares this attitude. Honestly, it’s something we try to emulate. The vast majority of law firms love to tout their selflessness, guidance, and client- first approach. The difference with Merlino & Gonzalez is that they actually live these ideals every single day. For them, it’s not a selling



Are You Wasting Water, Time, and Money? VS. DISHWASHER It’s not just about water! Unless you have incredibly thick dishwashing gloves, you can’t properly clean your dishes by hand. Dishwashers heat water to around 145 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure your dishes are disinfected. Even if the water from your sink could get that hot, you wouldn’t want to stick your hand in it. Which brings us to the science experiment that is your kitchen sponge. Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor in the microbiology and pathology departments at NYU Langone, determined that your kitchen sponge is the single dirtiest item in your house. Soap and water aren’t enough to sanitize your sponge, which is left damp next to your sink after each use. Have you ever noticed that stagnant sponge smell? That’s bacteria growing. And when you wash your dishes by hand, you rub that bacteria all over your plates and silverware. Yum. HAND-WASHING

We’ve all walked into our kitchens, looked at the dishes stacked high in the sink, and asked, “Is it better to throw those in the dishwasher or wash them by hand?” The dishwasher would certainly save you some time, but many people believe that washing dishes by hand uses less water and electricity. In reality, however, washing your dishes by hand is one of the worst things you can do for both the planet and your wallet. Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand. A study conducted in Europe found that individuals who wash dishes by hand tend to use 27 gallons of water to clean just 12 place settings. Meanwhile, modern dishwashers only use 6 gallons of water, and Energy Star appliances use as little as 4 gallons during their wash cycle. The Environmental Protection Agency determined that using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand can save 5,000 gallons of water and $40 in utility costs a year.

If you have just a single plate or cup, you obviously don’t want to run them through the dishwasher alone; that would be incredibly wasteful. But the drawbacks of washing by hand are too great to ignore. The best option is to wait until your

dishwasher is full, then start up the washing cycle. All your dishes will be clean and disinfected, and you’ll use less water in the process.


Merlino & Gonzalez, as well as our affiliated title company, MGM Gotham Abstract, LLC, recently completed our American

2. Adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts allowing for electronic verification of reconciliation. 3. Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security program plan to protect Non-public Personal Information as required by local, state, and federal law. 4. Adopt standard real estate settlement procedures and policies that help ensure compliance with Federal and State Consumer Financial Laws as applicable to the Settlement process. 5. Adopt and maintain written procedures related to title policy production, delivery, reporting, and premium remittance. 6. Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance and fidelity coverage. 7. Adopt and maintain written procedures for resolving consumer complaints. After meeting all requirements of the rigorous review, we were awarded a Best Practices certification. It means a lot to be recognized by an authority like ALTA, but what matters more is being a practice that clients and lenders can put their faith in.

Land Title Association (ALTA) Best Practices review. After a thorough review of our real estate practices, we were awarded a certification from ALTA for meeting all seven components of their Best Practices Framework. It was a lot of work to prepare for our review, but we are honored to be acknowledged as receiving our ALTA Best Practices Review Certification. It may not be a household name, but an ALTA certification is a stamp of approval when it comes to real estate law. The organization defines a Best Practice as one that meets “a benchmark for the real estate settlement and mortgage lending industries.” This award is not handed out often to practices of our size, and it will give our clients and lenders peace of mind in knowing that we meet all the requirements that were reviewed. ALTA’s Best Practices Framework includes the following seven criteria: 1. Establish and maintain current License(s) as required to conduct the business of title insurance and settlement services.


Identity Thieves Will Target Anyone


Every year, more and more people who are dealing with the loss of a family member experience something bizarre and unsettling. Their loved one may have passed away months ago, but all of a sudden, they receive word that somebody has opened a credit card in their name. That might sound like the premise of a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode, but we can assure you that it’s no joke. In fact, more than 2 million deceased Americans have their identities stolen every year according to fraud prevention firm ID Analytics. How does this happen? For starters, it takes a lot longer for credit agencies to be notified of a death than you might think. The same goes for banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. Identity thieves exploit this gap in order to take advantage of people who can’t defend themselves. They’re betting on the fact that family members will be too busy with other concerns to check the decedent’s credit report. To avoid this happening to your family, you can take a number of precautions. The first, and most important, is to send copies of your relative’s death certificate to the major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You must include

documents stating that you are authorized to represent the decedent, as well as all the personal information of that person. Request that the credit bureaus note that the person is deceased and they should not issue any credit in that person’s name. You should also send death certificates to any financial company your loved one had a relationship with. Additionally, the DMV in the decedent’s state should be called in order to cancel their driver’s license. Taking the time to do this on your own will close the window that thieves have to access any accounts. Be mindful of the fact that any information you publish can be used to criminal ends. Disgusting as it may sound, thieves often read obituaries to find out the maiden names, dates of birth, and street addresses of the recently deceased. If you plan to run an obituary in a newspaper or via the internet, make sure you leave these personal details out. At Merlino & Gonzalez, we guide our clients through every part of the estate planning process, even the unpleasant ones. If you want to know more about how to protect your departed’s identity, call us today.


take a break

If you want to be the hit of this year’s Memorial Day cookout, don’t overlook the star power of a well-made side dish. These smoky, tangy grilled potatoes will be the talk of the party. The best part is how easy they are to prep and make! • 2 pounds baby potatoes, halved • 1/4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • Juice of 1/2 lemon • 1/2 packet ranch seasoning INGREDIENTS 1. Heat grill to medium. In a large pan, toss potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice, and ranch seasoning. Season generously with salt and pepper. 2. Skewer potatoes. (If using wood skewers, be sure to DIRECTIONS

• Ranch dressing for drizzling • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives • Bacon bits (optional) • Salt and pepper to taste soak in water an hour before grilling.) Grill until tender and lightly charred, about 15 minutes. 3. Drizzle with ranch and garnish with chives and bacon bits.



394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314




Spotlight on a Local Attorney Kitchen Cleaning Secrets A New Certification for Our Practice How to Protect the Deceased From Identity Theft Grilled Ranch Potatoes How to Make Your Road Trip a Breeze

you have a car full of storytellers, try “Fortunately, Unfortunately.” The rules are simple. The first person starts by saying, “fortunately,” and mentioning something good about the road trip or the destination. The next person (moving clockwise) then follows by saying something “unfortunate” about the previous person’s statement. Take turns with every passenger in the car. If someone stumbles, they get a strike; three strikes and you’re out. The last passenger standing wins. PLAY AN AUDIOBOOK OR PODCAST We get it. Sometimes passengers don’t want to play games. Occasionally, they’d rather relax or take a nap. However, your listening material doesn’t have to be limited to Dad’s favorite music. Instead, consider listening to a family-friendly audiobook or podcast, which can make the longest and most boring parts of your trip an entertaining or educational experience. Almost any popular book is available in audio form, but it can be hard to find an enjoyable podcast. “Transistor” is a science-focused podcast that explores subjects kids and adults will find fascinating. Or if you’re looking for something fictional, try “Storynory,” in which the narrator tells fairy tales and legends from all over the globe. ROAD TRIPS DON’T HAVE TO BE PAINFUL Try Games, Audiobooks, and Podcasts to Pass the Time

Summer is right around the corner, which means you’ll soon pile the whole family into the car, ready to brave the road for a vacation. Everyone knows that riding in the car for hours can be torture. But with a little creativity, you can turn the worst part of a long trip into a fun event. PACK A TRAVEL GAME When the excitement of the family vacation starts to wear off, keep the peace and entertain your kids with a travel game. Many board game manufacturers offer travel-sized versions that are easy to pack and play in the car. Before your next road trip, consider purchasing digital Yahtzee, which packs all the fun of the classic game without the dice, or IQ Fit, a logic game with over 100 challenges. Both games cost around $10 and can provide hours of entertainment. INCLUDE THE WHOLE FAMILY Once the travel games no longer pique anyone’s interest, try an activity that can be fun for the whole family: a traditional road trip game. If 4

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