Merlino & Gonzalez June 2019

June 2019





Mary Young’s Unbelievable Estate Resolution

Ken, ever gracious and honest, told me there was no way the estate would be released without us first tracking down Eileen. He had never dealt with anything like this before, so he told me he’d do some research and get back to me. A few days later, he called me and said he had found a company called HeirSearch that specializes in tracking down long-lost heirs and relatives. I called HeirSearch at 9 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2018. It wasn’t even 2 p.m. on the same day when they called back saying they had found Eileen — yes, our Eileen. Using birth date records and a few other facts, they were able to narrow the possibilities down to a list of eight people. Eileen was the fifth person they called. After confirming her identity, I was given her phone number. At first, I spoke to Eileen’s husband. He expressed some perfectly understandable concerns. “Only good things will come of this,” I assured him. I didn’t know at the time how prophetic those words would be. Soon enough, I received word from Eileen that she was excited to meet us. We agreed she would come to Uncle John’s house in June of that year. From the moment she arrived, we knew she was family. It was an incredible experience for us and equally incredible for her. Eileen never really knew her birth father, had few baby pictures, and didn’t have many relatives to speak of. It was as if an entire portion of her life, a part of her sense of self, had been closed off to her. I think she was probably resigned to the fact that she’d never really know these things. We now see her regularly, we’re great friends, and I speak with her on the phone about once a week. In one fell swoop, she went from having zero cousins to having an extended family numbering well into the triple digits. “You have no idea what you’ve added to my life,” she told me during one of our calls. We all feel the same way about her. Uncle John is the real hero of this story, the force who brought us all together. Without his insistence, it’s likely we would’ve never met Eileen and vice versa. After our reconnection, Eileen visited the mausoleum in New Jersey where John is interned. She placed her hand on his resting place and gave him the message he’d been hoping to hear. “Uncle John,” she said. “I am here.” –Mary Young

We’re very lucky to serve an incredible group of clients and get to learn their stories and know them as people. But few, if any, experiences I’ve had settling estates compare to that of Mary Young’s. I won’t spoil anything about it, except to say that it serves as a reminder of why my job is so special.

My grandparents bought a house on Staten Island in 1915. My uncle John was born there and would die there 95 years later, as he wished, in November, 2017. It was his home from his first days until his last. John never had children of his own, but he was the ultimate family man. It came as no surprise, then, that John wanted the proceeds from his estate split between his nieces and nephews. The tricky part was that one of those nieces had been long-estranged from our family. As the result of a divorce, Eileen had not been in contact with us since her early childhood. None of us knew where she lived or what had become of her. “You have to find her,” Uncle John would often say to me. As executor of his estate, it was my responsibility to do so, but I didn’t know where to start. I met Ken Gonzalez through pure coincidence. As I was working to get Uncle John’s affairs in order, I stumbled across the Merlino & Gonzalez office, which happens to be one street away from John’s house. I saw the sign and walked in. It was just that simple. It didn’t take long speaking with Ken to decide I wanted to work with the firm. I got a great feeling from the moment

I walked in, and that feeling never left during the entire process. Everyone at Merlino & Gonzalez is responsive, caring, and selfless. I realized immediately that their firm was exceptional, but little did I know that a discovery they helped me make not long after would enrich the lives of my entire family.



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