Merlino & Gonzalez July 2017

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JULY 2017




16 Years Is Just the Start HERE TO STAY

I think what separates Merlino & Gonzalez from other law firms is that we seek to establish a continuing relationship with our clients. If you go to the average attorney, once they resolve your issue and you pay the bill, your interaction is over. They’ve done their job, and the case is closed. That might suit some firms just fine, but our perspective is different. For us, one-and-done service takes a back seat to developing meaningful bonds over many years. I like to think of our work as being legal guides for our clients whenever they need it. The best part of my job is being able to help people. The work I do here is never adversarial. Instead, I help people deal with issues to give them peace of mind. Whether you’re buying your first house or getting ready to set up an estate for future generations, I’m here. I think our goal of building long-term relationships with our clients comes naturally because we serve the people of our community. Ever since my great-grandfather arrived in Staten Island, my family has made this place our home. I grew up with a small-business mentality — my dad owns an insurance agency, and many of my relatives are entrepreneurs — and I always knew I would work at a small firm. Even though we are here in Staten Island, our connection to our clients doesn’t end if they move to another borough or even to New Jersey. We go with them wherever life takes them. The nature of the relationships we build means it’s hard not to take our work home with us. There are nights when I’ll wake up at 1 a.m. thinking about a client. They’re putting their trust in me, and I cannot help but care. When I do get away from my work, I’m always happy to spend time with my beautiful wife, Nicole, and our five wonderful children.

There’s a lot of running from event to event trying to keep up with them — from track and baseball to cheerleading and flag football. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the one gunning for a track scholarship. I also have a passion for gardening. I recently planted 100 begonias in my perennial garden. Leading a busy work and family life can get hectic, and my time in the soil is, to borrow a phrase from

“Seinfeld,” where I get my “serenity now.” I get the same feeling from some of my nerdier passions, “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones.” In April, I attended the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando with my family, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I won’t soon forget. It’s hard to believe our firm is 16 years old now, because the time has passed so quickly. Ken and I are still young guys (at least I like to think so), and we hope to be an integral part of our clients’ lives for decades to come. We’re here to stay and grow alongside our clients and their families.



Keep Your Child’s Mind Active With This Fun Summer Experiment! GROW CRYSTALS WITH YOUR KIDS

A mentally sedentary summer can cause your child’s learning to stagnate and backslide, erasing the equivalent of as much as two months of in-school learning. But you can have fun with your kid this summer and help them learn at the same time. Try this project from, which demonstrates how geodes are formed and gives a primer on the science of crystals. The results are stunning! All you need are some clean eggshells, water, several different soluble materials (salt, sugar, baking soda, borax, cream of tartar), coffee cups, spoons, food coloring, and egg cartons. First, crack the eggs as close to the narrow end as possible. Then, clean the eggshells in hot water, which allows you to pull the skin out of the inside. Place the shells in an egg carton lined with wax paper to hold them upright. Boil the water and pour half a cup into each coffee mug, followed by ¼ cup of one of the soluble materials, stirring until it dissolves. Keep adding the solid slowly

until the water is supersaturated — this simply means that the water has absorbed all it can and any additional solid won’t dissolve. Then, add food coloring to the solutions. See what creative color combinations your child can come up with. Carefully pour the solution into an eggshell, filling it as full as you can without the solution overflowing or the egg tipping over. As the water evaporates (be patient!) crystals will begin to form inside the eggshells. But how? As the water is heated, it expands, allowing more space for the dissolved solution. When it cools and evaporates, that space goes away, and the solids are forced to become solid again. See, science is fun and educational! Check out further science experiments on,, or!

The New Look of Merlino & Gonzalez A FACE-LIFT FOR OUR OFFICE

There are plenty of issues you encounter while running a law firm that fall outside the purview of law. Everything, from creating a website to picking furniture, needs to be considered carefully. While these may seem like small details, they add up to creating a welcoming atmosphere that makes clients feel comfortable and cared for. At Merlino & Gonzalez, we pride ourselves on building real relationships with our clients, and we want our office to reflect the warmth and commitment we feel toward those we serve.

We’ve recently undertaken a major project to beautify the landscape around our office. We’ve installed a new fence, done some planting, and generally spruced up our surroundings. One of our founding partners, John R. Merlino Jr., actually keeps a garden of his own, so he brought a ton of great ideas to the table. Our office is our home for a large portion of the week, and we thought it only fitting that we did some yard work. Unfortunately, we don’t have any kids here that we can task with mowing the lawn! Having a beautiful landscape will never be as important as the thorough guidance and continuing relationship we provide to our clients, but we like to think it makes a small difference. Certainly, you wouldn’t want your law office to be strewn with garbage, with your files in a stack on the floor. Our philosophy of thoughtful, comprehensive planning extends to all areas of our practice — even the trees out front. We hope you’ll notice the face-lift to the outside of our office. We think that the update has made the atmosphere outside more reflective of the attitude we strive for inside. Any chance we have to make our clients’ experience just a little better is worth it in our eyes.


WHY ESTATE PLANNING MATTERS FOR EVERYONE Protection for Your Family, Assets, and Wishes

For many people, estate planning is a hard-to-approach conversation that’s easy to put off. It doesn’t help that the field is fraught with misconceptions. Thorough estate planning is critical for people of all ages. You can start by dispelling its most pervasive myths. When people hear “estate planning,” they usually conjure an image of a super wealthy person lavishing their family members with prized possessions, including the Picasso hanging on the wall and the gleaming jewelry in the vault. But in reality, every family, regardless of their income level, can benefit from an estate plan. A complete plan doesn’t just include a trust and/ or last will and testament; it also includes documents like a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and a living will. The health care portions of estate planning are especially important to establish as early as possible. Illness and tragedy can arrive without warning, and you don’t want your loved ones to be

powerless to provide your desired care because they lack the legal right to make those decisions. Similarly, if something happens to you, you want to ensure that your children are taken care of. All of these issues can be covered with a comprehensive estate plan. It’s never easy to talk about sickness and death, but, as with so many difficult conversations, confronting it directly is much better than procrastinating. Hashing out an estate plan will provide you and your loved ones peace of mind, knowing that in the event of an emergency, everything will be taken care of in accordance with your wishes. The last thing you want is to be surprised by an illness and forced to make hasty decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney, like everyone on the team at Merlino & Gonzalez, will help you prepare or update your estate plan to cover as many situations as possible.



There are a lot more ways to enjoy fresh summer corn than just on the cob. Try this simple, delicious pasta dish and up your summer game!

• 4 medium ears corn • 1 pound pasta • 6 tablespoons butter INGREDIENTS DIRECTIONS

• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese • ¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut kernels off ears of corn; set aside. 2. Cook pasta according to package instructions and reserve ¼ cup cooking water. While pasta cooks, melt butter on medium-high in 3-quart saucepan. Cook 3–4 minutes, swirling frequently, until browned and very fragrant. Reduce heat to medium, add corn,

and cook about 2 minutes, or until corn is heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. 3. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add corn mixture, Parmesan, basil, and reserved cooking water.

Stir until combined and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by




394 Manor Rd, Staten Island, NY 10314



Here to Stay Grow Crystals With Your Kids

A Face-Lift for Our Office Protect Your Loved Ones Simple Summer Brown Butter and Corn Pasta The World’s Happiest Vacations

Next in line is a state that has little in common with the Aloha State. Alaska came in second place for the third consecutive year. With eight national parks, including Denali, Glacier Bay, and Gates of the Arctic, Alaska’s 663,000 square miles are filled to the brim with the wonders of nature. DESTINATION: HAPPY PEOPLE Visit the Happiest Places in the World — It’s Contagious Denmark has long been the standard-bearer in this category. This year, it relinquished the title to its Scandinavian sister. Norway is home to some of the most breathtaking vistas on earth, most notably its western fjords, like the world-famous Geirangerfjord and Nærøfjord. For the city wanderer, you’ll find choice seaside restaurants and walkable streets in towns like Bergen, the country’s second-largest city, which sports rainbow architecture and a 15th-century waterfront. Knowing the heart of a destination begins and ends with its people. Tack on beautiful scenery and daydream-worthy activities, and you just found yourself the perfect vacation. THE HAPPIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD

Visit a hustling, bustling tourist trap and what do you get? Crowds of competitive travelers and a local population that is sick to death of them. Visit a place with happy people, and you get good service, friendly faces, and you’ll learn firsthand what Harvard researchers affirmed in a 2012 study: Happiness is contagious. Luckily for the average traveler, the places that topped a nationwide Gallup poll and the United Nations’ annual World Happiness Report have plenty to offer in addition to cheerful locals.


If we were to tell you that Hawaii is the happiest state in the country, you probably wouldn’t be surprised. And sure enough, Hawaii ranked first in overall happiness for the sixth consecutive year. The sunny beaches, rich culture, and perfect weather give tourists a taste of paradise that the natives enjoy all year long. 4

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