Merlino & Gonzalez - August 2020

August 2020





By the time we were ready to finalize and settle everything, the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing in the U.S. Shutdowns were happening left and right, travel was becoming dangerous, and I was feeling more and more dread about everything. I was told that under normal circumstances, the entire process could take up to 18 months, and we were well beyond “normal circumstances.” Even the real estate agent who was helping me list my aunt’s house ended up contracting the virus! He’s made a full recovery since, but early on, it seemed that everything that could go wrong was about to go wrong, and I wasn’t able to be there when it did. Luckily, I was pleasantly mistaken. From the time I hired Merlino & Gonzalez to the time we finished with my aunt’s estate, only 12 months had passed, and everything went off without a hitch. Ken and his team set things up so that I could review and execute everything necessary from the safety of my own home almost 1,000 miles away. I was able to sign papers, get these notarized at my bank, and send everything to be taken care of without any fear of mistakes or delay. Their turnaround speed was beyond impressive. And most importantly, throughout it all, they took the time to explain documents, walk through processes, and make sure I was okay with how things were being handled. Now that all is said and done, I can say with confidence that this process was an incredible way to honor my aunt’s life and the legacy she wanted to leave for her family. Many of us were treated to some heartwarming surprises in her will, and that’s exactly the way she wanted it. With everything going on in the world right now, this process could have been the headache and heartache that it’s often made out to be. Instead, Merlino & Gonzalez found a way to thrive through hardship, and I’ll always be grateful to them for it. –John Schulz

John hired us to probate and settle his aunt’s estate in New York including the sale of her home, which went into contract just as the coronavirus shutdowns were starting to take effect. To add fuel to the fire, John lives all the way in Georgia, which means travel was a safety concern and everything had to be settled remotely. But we knew we could find a way to help him through the process, just as we would for anyone else or under more normal circumstances.

My late aunt was a wonderful woman with deep roots in the Staten Island community. She was a much-loved school teacher and lived in the same house for her entire life, her parents having bought it in the 1920s. My family and I have a lot of fond memories of visiting my aunt and that house, and I was fortunate enough to travel from my home just outside Atlanta to see her one last time in March 2019 before she passed in May 2019 at the age of 92. Although my aunt remained in the same home her entire life, the rest of our family left the area long ago, so no one lived locally to take care of her estate after her passing. Being close with her, I volunteered to be the executor of her estate, even though I had never done so for anyone before. I spent the remaining months after her passing in 2019 traveling back and forth to her house to get everything ready to go, but I knew I needed to find a local estate firm that could help me with the rest of the process. The first person I tried was a recommendation through my aunt’s bank, but when I called him, I was immediately put off — he made it sound like he didn’t have the time or interest in helping me. I knew I needed to find someone else. The second recommendation for Kenneth Gonzalez came from my aunt’s accountant. I cold-called Ken and he took immediate, caring initiative to learn more about my aunt and her estate — I knew I had found the right fit.



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