Merlino & Gonzalez - November 2019

November 2019





About Veterans Day

Veterans Day is meaningful for us. We have clients who are veterans and family members who are actively serving, and we take pride in knowing them. My own father served in Vietnam, and my grandfather served in World War II. But I think one of our colleagues sheds inspiring light on what it means to have military family. Nicole McCarthy is an independent title closer we’ve worked with for over 15 years, and she is also a mother whose son has served in the military. I can think of no one better to tell us what this holiday means to them.

the right decision and that he wanted to serve his country. How can you be upset about that kind of ambition? Within two months of letting us know, he was gone. Sure, we were proud. But we were also scared. For two years, Nicholas served with the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, or FAST. It took him to Guam and eventually Japan. There were lengths of time when we couldn’t contact him. Either he was out of communication range or his mission wouldn’t allow it. The longest stint was when he was stationed on a ship for seven months in Japan. For those seven months, we didn’t hear from our son, not even so much as an assurance that he was all right. That’s a terrifying prospect for any parent. But in his five years of service, Nicholas stayed safe, worked his way up to sergeant, and returned home in October 2018. We couldn’t have been prouder of him, but we were also thankful to have him home. We count our blessings every day that he came back to us without any damage to his body or mind. We certainly know that not everyone is as lucky as we are. I’ll admit that Veterans Day didn’t used to hold a lot of meaning for my family. It was a holiday that we respected but rarely celebrated. Now, having a son who’s served and hearing all about it from his perspective, it’s a holiday I no longer take lightly. That’s because the sacrifices these people make are astounding. It’s more than putting themselves in harm’s way; these men and women miss holidays, birthdays, and watching their families grow. They miss out on the little things we all take for granted that make our lives worth living. I cherish my son and every single service member out there for those sacrifices. So this Veterans Day, take a moment to think about those who have served. There’s a lot to learn from all they represent. Appreciate the little things, and keep your loved ones close. It’s what these men and women fight for every day. –Nicole McCarthy

It was a shocking surprise when Nicholas announced that he was joining the military. While my husband’s father and grandfather served, my own family hadn’t. So it was something I’d never given much thought or consideration.

When our country was rocked by 9/11, it affected people in different ways. Nicholas’ father worked for the NYPD Emergency Service Unit at the time. We didn’t hear from him for over 6 hours, and it was terrifying. We eventually learned that he was okay, but for Nicholas, I think that day sparked something more. He was only 9 years old, but fierce patriotism began growing in him. Nicholas eventually went off to college, as was always the plan. But he came back like a boomerang and announced his intention to join the Marines. It was a complete shock. We hardly knew anything about the military, and we certainly didn’t know what to expect. He assured us it was



THE GREATEST AMERICAN WAR HORSE The Legend of Sergeant Reckless the 5th Marine Regiment. Her name was a play on the “recoilless” rifle ammunition she carried and a nod to the daredevil attitude of the soldiers who used them. Reckless was pivotal for her regiment in more ways than one. As Robin Hutton notes in her book “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse,” “Because horses are ‘herd’ animals, the Marines became her herd. She bonded so deeply with them that Reckless would go anywhere and do anything to help her adopted family.” Sergeant Reckless’ greatest achievement occurred during the final stages of the Battle for Outpost Vegas. During the bloody five-day campaign, Reckless made 51 trips to resupply guns over the course of a single day. By the end of the battle, she had carried 386 rounds of ammunition by walking 35 miles through rice paddies and mountain trails. After dropping off the ammunition, Reckless would then bring wounded soldiers back to safety. Reckless was trained to lie down when under fire and avoid barbed wire, and her ability to do so without needing human command saved many lives during the battle. Reckless would close out her war career with two Purple Hearts and the rank of staff sergeant. She spent the rest of her years at Camp Pendleton in California. To learn more about this legendary mare, be sure to check out “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse” by Robin Hutton.

Animals have acted as companions to humankind for thousands of years. They’re a near-constant source of companionship, comfort, and aid. Unfortunately, military animals don’t often get the recognition they deserve. One horse, in particular, was essential to the success of her regiment during the Korean War. Meet Sergeant Reckless. Bought for $250 in 1952 by a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant at a Seoul racetrack, Sergeant Reckless was trained to carry ammunition for

NOT YOUR ORDINARY TURKEY SHOOT The Crazy Case of Jacobs v. Kent

It began like any other hunting excursion. Neil Jacobs was walking softly through the bushes, looking for a spot to hunker down and watch for a flock of turkeys. The only problem was that someone beat him to that neck of the woods. James Kent had established a hunting spot for himself, and, when he heard rustling and gobbling in some nearby bushes and saw a flash of red, he took aim and fired. Unfortunately, the movement in the bushes was not a turkey. Kent was horrified to find that he had shot Jacobs. Jacobs promptly moved for a partial summary judgment against Kent on the basis that he had failed to determine that Jacobs was not a turkey but, in fact, a human being. Kent cross-moved for summary judgment, saying Jacobs should have expected risks when he stepped into a popular hunting environment. When their case came before the Supreme Court of the 4th District of New York, the courts denied both the motion and the cross-motion. They agreed that Jacobs had assumed the inherent risks of hunting — just not the risks it would be unreasonable to assume, like getting shot by another hunter who thought you were a turkey. Beyond that, the courts did not pronounce judgment because they did not have enough verifiable facts. Jacobs asserted that turkey hunters should not shoot unless they can see the turkey and verify its gender. The court could not determine

whether Kent had failed to follow this rule when he shot Jacobs. They also could not determine whether the doctrine of primary assumption of risk, which Kent pointed to in his defense, was even applicable. The court also called into question whether Jacobs had also been negligent. Ultimately, the case didn’t move forward.

Maybe next time, they should just try getting a turkey from the supermarket.



When tending to the safety and care of elderly loved ones, it’s not uncommon to hire extra help or move them into an assisted living facility. While these services are helpful, they can sometimes open doors to harmful situations. The elderly and otherwise incapacitated are more susceptible to being taken advantage of, especially from a financial standpoint. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep this from happening. First, choose a trustworthy person to act as an agent in all estate- planning matters, including power of attorney. They should have access to all financial accounts, so they can keep an eye out for any unusual activity. If you hire someone to help or assist around the house, make sure their access to sensitive information is limited. Don’t give them passwords for accounts or allow them to open mail. Unusual financial activity to watch for includes unexplained withdrawals or transactions, sudden unpaid bills, insufficient funds,

or closing of accounts. Be wary of new “friends” who accompany the older person to the bank or a new caretaker who starts conducting financial transactions on behalf of the person without permission. Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents, altered wills and trusts, or loss of property are also signs. It’s a lot to pay attention to, but being aware will help you catch any nefarious activity early. Remind elderly family members to never share personal or financial information over the phone or internet unless it’s with a trusted source. Shredding receipts and statements before throwing them away prevents information theft, and keeping items like checkbooks under lock and key prevents physical theft. Information is easy to steal if it’s not properly protected. If you suspect elder financial or estate abuse is occurring or if you want to put plans in place to prevent it, give our office a call at 718-698-2200 or visit so we can give you peace of mind.


take a break

• 2 slices sourdough bread • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard • 2 slices Swiss cheese • 1/3 cup shredded leftover turkey • 3 tbsp leftover cranberry sauce Thanksgiving may be held on Thursday, but the food often lasts at least through the weekend. To make the best use of the excess, grill up some killer turkey sandwiches. INGREDIENTS

• 1/3 cup leftover dressing or stuffing • 2 tbsp leftover gravy • 1 tbsp butter, room temperature Note: Don’t worry if you don’t have all the leftovers required.


1. Coat inside of each bread slice with mustard and a slice of cheese. Place turkey and cranberry sauce on one slice and dressing and gravy on the other. 2. Combine sandwich and spread butter on both sides. 3. In a panini maker or large skillet, grill until crispy and golden brown. 4. Slice and serve.

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394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314




Veterans Day From a Mother’s Perspective The Legend of Sergeant Reckless Not Your Ordinary Turkey Shoot Prevent Elder Financial Abuse The Best Leftover Turkey Sandwich The Gift of Giving

CELEBRATING GIVING TUESDAY Supporting the People You Believe In

TECHNOLOGY AT ITS BEST Through the use of social media and technology, the organization hopes to encourage and spread generosity on a global scale using the hashtag #GivingTuesday. The website states that “... technology and social media could be used to make generosity go viral; that people fundamentally want to give and talk about giving.” Through massive social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the individuals and companies participating in Giving Tuesday can spread their missions and messages all over the world, encouraging others to do the same. HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE Now is the perfect opportunity to support your community and the causes you believe in. The best part of this holiday is that “giving” doesn’t just refer to donating money. People can give back by volunteering their time to help a nonprofit business, donating goods and food, or just buying a stranger some lunch. Even the smallest actions can have the biggest impact. If you’re interested in participating in Giving Tuesday, get together with your friends, family, sports team members, or neighbors to brainstorm on how you can give back. To learn more about how you can participate, visit

November is usually all about Thanksgiving, but it isn’t the only holiday that encourages generosity. Giving Tuesday is a phenomenal celebration in which millions of people from across the globe are inspired to spend 24 hours giving back to the communities they love. ORIGIN AND GOAL Giving Tuesday is celebrated every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, and this year, the holiday lands on Dec. 3! It was established in 2012 by the United Nations Foundation and New York’s 92nd Street Y as a response to consumer-driven holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The purpose of the holiday was to spread the spirit of giving, not only for the people in our nation but individuals across the world. The goal is “to create a massive wave of generosity that lasts well beyond that day and touches every person on the planet.” 4

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