WE KEEP YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH
IN A MANOR OF SPEAKING
WAY MORE THAN LAWYERS M&G Are Neighbors, Guides, and Friends Over the years, we’ve had the chance to guide countless incredible people through the real estate and estate planning processes. Therese Romanelli is one such person. More than simply being a client, we think of her as a member of the Merlino & Gonzalez family. We firmly believe that our clients are the real stars, so we wanted to give Therese the chance to share her story. I hope you enjoy it. –John R. Merlino Jr., Esq.
From the first moment I sat down with John, I knew I had made the right decision. I had built up an image in my mind of what an attorney would be like. I expected somebody boisterous and forceful — a bull in a china shop, if you will. But that’s not John. He’s humble, calm, and trustworthy. His demeanor immediately put me at ease. I entered the meeting an anxious ball of nerves; I left feeling comfortable and confident. I couldn’t believe how willing John was to answer every last one of my questions. My son, who has met no shortage of real estate attorneys, was so impressed that he now recommends Merlino & Gonzalez to all of his clients. I’ve used their firm for a few real estate transactions, and I’ve been wowed every single time. During one closing, I was working 80 hours per week. John said he would be able to represent me. The fact that he could take the stress away from me was lifesaving. I’m a registered nurse, so work is crazy enough without needing to think about a house closing. It’s rare in life that you find somebody who says they’ll take care of something and follows through. I’m very lucky to have met John. Another thing I appreciate about the firm is how devoted they are to the community. Stepping into their office feels like entering somebody’s home. In a funny coincidence, I now live just a couple of blocks away from their office. I’m not exaggerating when I say they are my neighbors and friends. I’m a tough critic, so it’s not often I say my experience with anything has been 100 percent positive. But that’s the only way to describe each and every time I’ve worked with Merlino & Gonzalez.
Therese and John smiling after another successful real estate transaction!
When I got a call asking if I would be featured in the Merlino & Gonzalez newsletter, I was flattered. While I’m happy to tell you about the exceptional service I’ve experienced, I think the spotlight should be on John, Ken, and the entire team at Merlino & Gonzalez. The first time I met John, I was looking for an attorney to help me sell my house. What I got was a relationship that will last a lifetime. Hiring an attorney is a stressful process even when it’s for something good. My son is a Realtor, so I had some idea of what to expect, but I was still a little nervous. How do you know if you’re hiring the right person? I relied on word-of-mouth recommendations. I talked to a few people, including my son, and one name kept coming up: John Merlino. So I gave his office a call and set up a meeting.
YOUR DINNER TABLE MIGHT BE THE KEY
to a Happier Family school for art club, why not break out the healthy snacks and make dinner happen a little later or earlier? Plus, the meal you share as a family doesn’t have to be at dinnertime. If there’s time in the mornings, sit down for breakfast. If you have the opportunity on weekends or during a school break, grab lunch together. CALL ALL HANDS ON DECK Mom or Dad shouldn’t be expected to cook by themselves for every meal. This is family time, after all, so call in the kids! Make sure their tasks are age-appropriate — leave sautéing vegetables to the high schooler and let your first-grader set out the cups instead. This is the perfect opportunity to teach kids valuable kitchen skills and to take some of the burden off your plate. Plus, if your kids are picky eaters, inviting them to be part of the cooking process can make them more inclined to try the finished product. DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT It’s okay if you’re too busy on a Monday to cook dinner. There’s always Tuesday. Or you can take a trip to your favorite family restaurant. Family meals should be fun, and that can’t happen if you’re stressed. Don’t feel pressured to make each meal perfect or to prepare a three-course dinner every night. Chicken and rice can get the job done as long as you’re all sitting around the table as a family. No matter how hectic your schedule may be, making family meals a priority is always worth the investment. Who’s in the mood for meatloaf?
The family dinner is a staple of years gone by. These days, the only time you see a family sit together and break bread seems to be at Thanksgiving. This is a shame, because regular family dinners are incredibly important! It’s a time to bond with your loved ones that can have a positive impact on your kids’ lives. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids who regularly partake in family meals are less likely to experience depression or engage in drug use. Furthermore, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University determined that kids who eat family meals five to seven times a week bring home better report cards.
Even when schedules are busy, you can make family dinners fit into your agenda with these tips.
BE FLEXIBLE ABOUT MEALTIMES Dinner doesn’t have to be at 6 p.m. on the dot. If Kamala has a karate tournament in the evening or Peter needs to stay late at
A REPLACEMENT FOR NURSING HOMES? A New Innovation in Senior Living
During the first season of “The Sopranos,” Tony tries to convince his mother, Livia, to move into a continued care retirement community (CCRC). Her resistance is a common response for many seniors and speaks to the reputation of nursing homes as sterile, unfriendly places — whether justified or not.
residents without staff oversight to get their honest opinions of the place. Online reviews are another good source of impartial assessment. CCRCs are usually not short-term living arrangements. It’s a big decision, and one that shouldn’t be rushed. Because they offer a wealth of different services, CCRCs often require complex contracts that are far from being one-size-fits-all. Unless you want to get stuck with surprise costs or an inflexible contract, you should have an attorney look over the details of any paperwork. Usually, all of the details of the contract — including provisions for later-life care — are established at the outset. A lawyer can help ensure you’re choosing the best care package possible. CCRCs are a great option for seniors looking to join a community of peers. The features and activities are a major draw, but don’t overlook the details of the contract. Let an impartial attorney guarantee you’re making the best decision for your loved ones.
“I’m not going to that nursing home,” Livia says.
“Green Grove is a retirement community!” Tony replies.
Tony may have been selling the appeal of Green Grove to his stubborn mother, but he was right. CCRCs are replacing traditional nursing homes, even if their perception isn’t changing as quickly. These communities offer a lot more activities and amenities than their predecessors, but they aren’t without their pitfalls. If you’re considering a CCRC for yourself or a loved one, it’s important for you to go into the process with your eyes open. Be sure to do your research when you’re exploring options. Every community is different, and some are more reputable than others. Try to speak with
WHY YOUR PREMIUMS MAY BE RISING Don’t Be C.L.U.E.less About Your Car Insurance
Everyone knows that when an accident is your fault or you’ve racked up some traffic violations, your car insurance premiums will go up. It’s not hard to understand why. Drivers who have increased risk pay more insurance. But sometimes, your premiums go up for no reason at all. If this happens to you, it may be due to an error in your C.L.U.E. report. You’ve probably never heard of this report before, but it’s a huge factor in how your premiums are determined. C.L.U.E. stands for “Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange,” and more than 95 percent of car insurance companies submit claims to it. Basically, it’s a database that insurance companies use to decide how much they should charge you for your policy. When there’s an error in your report, you could end up paying more than you need to. Any claims you’ve made previously will be included in your C.L.U.E. report, as well as basic information like your policy
number and vehicle information. There is also a category called a “fault indicator” which records who is at fault for a particular accident. When you apply for a policy, or when that policy comes up for renewal, you can bet your insurance provider will look at the report. Given how crucial it is, it’s up to you to make sure it’s correct. Whether or not you’ve seen your premiums rise recently, you should periodically request a copy of your report from your provider or directly from LexisNexis Risk Solutions, the company that creates and manages C.L.U.E. reports. In the event of an error, contact both your carrier and LexisNexis. They are required by law to review your report. Once you’ve requested a review, follow up to ensure that any inaccuracies have been resolved. Nobody should pay excessive premiums for no reason at all. If you think you’re being overcharged for car insurance, it’s time to get a C.L.U.E.
BRAISED CHICKEN AND SPRING VEGETABLES MICHELE’S RECIPE CORNER
take a break
This simple and delicious one-pot recipe is perfect for a weeknight. It only requires about 15 minutes of hands-on work but will taste like you spent all day building flavors. It’s a hearty comfort food that’s sure to delight eaters of all ages. • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 8 small bone-in chicken thighs • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth • 12 radishes, halved saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in pan for 6 to 7 minutes per side. 3. Remove chicken from pan and scrape off excess fat. Add broth INGREDIENTS DIRECTIONS 1. Heat olive oil in a large
• 4 large carrots, cut into sticks • 1 tablespoon sugar • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped • Salt and pepper and stir in radishes, carrots, and sugar. 4. Return chicken to pan, placing on top of vegetables. Gently
simmer with lid on pan for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish with chives.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
M&G Puts You at Ease What Every Parent Needs to Know About Family Dinners The Scoop on CCRCs Get a C.L.U.E. About Your Car Insurance Braised Chicken and Spring Vegetables The 3 Best Places to See Beautiful Flowers
WASHINGTON, D.C. Besides the monuments and historic buildings, one of the biggest attractions in Washington, D.C. is the cherry tree blossoms. Travelers who visit the Tidal Basin during the spring can witness 3,000 trees, which were a gift from Tokyo in 1912, flaunt their beautiful pink blossoms. The best time to see the spectacle is from the end of March through the end of April. ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK Desert lavender, flowering cacti, pygmy poppies, and rock daisies are just a few of the many wildflowers decorating Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The various native species are often seen weaved together to form a colorful carpet over any barren patch in the park, which is located just two hours from San Diego. In addition to flowers, visitors often spot bighorn sheep. Wildflower blossoms vary in intensity each year, but they typically begin to bloom in late February or early March. Next time you’re planning a spring trip, consider visiting one of the world’s most beautiful flower displays. No green thumb required. EARTH’S MOST Beautiful FLOWER DISPLAYS
Spring is here, which means flora will soon be in full bloom. Flowers can be an easy pick-me-up or a great way to add color to your home, but some people take their flower obsession to the next level by planning botanical-themed vacations. Here are some of the most impressive gardens and flower displays in the world. NETHERLANDS Holland, most famous for its tulips, always draws visitors at the first sign of spring. One of its most famous destinations, Keukenhof, located in Lisse, is among the world’s largest flower gardens. The park is 79 acres and boasts approximately 7 million flowers each year. This colorful garden is open annually from mid- March to mid-May, but mid-April is the ideal time to see the tulips.
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