Merlino & Gonzalez - September 2020

Take a look at this month's newsletter from Merlino & Gonzalez!

September 2020




DON’T PUT LIFE ON HOLD We Can Still Help You Make Your Dreams Happen

Tara and Michael are clients who we represented during the purchase of their beautiful, new home. They are a nurse and a police officer duo working in New York, so our mission was to make sure we didn’t add any additional stress to their lives on the front lines of this pandemic. We’re so grateful to them for their service to our community during these trying times.

Deciding to move out of Staten Island was a spur of the moment decision for our family, but when you finally come across your dream home and it’s for sale, it’s hard to say no — even if the process of selling our house, purchasing a new house, and making the move during a worldwide pandemic could cause a lot more trouble than those processes already consist of. Lucky for us, though, we got a recommendation to go to Merlino & Gonzalez for help with the purchase. We had heard good things about the work they do for their clients, but we had no idea just how truly incredible they would be for us during this time. Working as a full-time nurse and police officer while having young kids to raise means that we have a lot of long shifts, late nights, and busy days “off.” Add the coronavirus pandemic to the mix, and our friends and family thought we were completely crazy for wanting to try and go through the process of moving into a new home. But John Merlino and his entire team not only made it possible but also made it easier than we ever could have imagined. They guided us through the process, and above all, they made themselves accessible whenever we needed them. We didn’t test it, but we have no doubt that we could have called or texted someone on their team at 9 p.m. on a Saturday and they would have answered, ready to give us what we needed. They were that communicative and that invested in helping us.

Even with the delays that the pandemic inevitably caused, the entire process of closing through them only took about two months from start to finish. We aren’t first-time home buyers, but the fact that nearly everything had to be done virtually to keep everyone involved safe and healthy was something we were concerned about from the beginning. Needless to say, that concern was removed from our plate the moment things got started with Merlino & Gonzalez. Their system for doing things digitally works because of the care, attention, and timeliness they put into every step of the process. They are just about the most professional and passionate team we’ve ever come across, pandemic or no pandemic. We’ve been in our new home for about two months now, and it’s everything we could have ever wanted. It’s easy for the purchasing and move-in processes to be soiled by hiccups and hardships along the way, especially when other parts of your life demand all of your attention. But what really set Merlino & Gonzalez apart was the fact that they didn’t want our first concern to be the process of buying our home — they always made sure that our kids, our jobs, and our safety were our top priority. They made sure to take care of everything we needed so that we didn’t have to worry about it ourselves. I would recommend Merlino & Gonzalez to anyone looking for a smooth journey to buying a new home. They won’t let you down. –Tara and Michael




3 Fun Family Activities for Fall

It’s fall, which means social media will soon be saturated with pictures of your friends enjoying “classic” fall activities. Photos of leaf peeping, apple picking, and the occasional scarecrow run rampant. But rather than following the herd, you can make your family the trendsetter of unique fall activities! Here are a few outdoor endeavors your family will love. Get gardening Fall is the time for harvest, but if you want to enjoy flowers in the spring, it’s also a time for planting. The cooler autumn air is easier on plants, but the soil is still warm enough for roots to grow before the ground freezes for winter. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are all spring bulbs that need to be planted in the fall. Do a little research with your family to determine the best time to start planting in your area. Pan for gold Here’s one that’s really off the beaten path: Take your family on an adventure panning for gold! Start by planning a road trip out to an old ghost town. Many of them have great tourist attractions that include gold panning. You probably won’t get rich, but it will still be a fun

story. If you’re not able to make the trip, you can always create a gold panning operation at home! Visit activity for a great step-by-step guide on how to go panning for gold in your own backyard. Plan a fall photo shoot It’s time to freshen up those family pictures hanging around the house. The changing leaves provide a beautiful background for any family portrait. Better yet, the cooler temperatures mean that an outdoor photo shoot won’t be nearly as uncomfortable as it would be in the summer. You can take your pictures by the trees in the front yard or make a daytrip of it. What about pictures at the corn maze or pumpkin patch? It’s never too soon to start planning this year’s holiday card.

Spend this fall outdoors and create great new memories with your family!

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE 21ST NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER? 4 Decades of Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’

“Do you remember the 21st night of September?”

“ba-dee-ya,” which White included in the chorus. Throughout the songwriting process, Willis begged to change the phrase to real words. At the final vocal session, Willis finally demanded to know what ba‑dee-ya meant. White replied, “Who cares?”

In 1978, Maurice White of the band Earth, Wind & Fire first asked this question in the song “September,” a funky disco song

that quickly topped the charts. While disco may be dead today, “September” certainly isn’t. The song is still featured in movies, TV shows, and wedding playlists. On Sept. 21, 2019, the funk hit was streamed over 2.5 million times. It’s no wonder that the Los Angeles City Council declared Sept. 21 Earth, Wind & Fire Day.

“I learned my greatest lesson ever in songwriting from him,” Willis recalled in a 2014 interview with NPR, “which was never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.” The groove is why “September” has stood the test of time, right from that very first lyric. For decades, people have asked Willis and members of the band about the significance of Sept. 21. As it turns out, there isn’t much beyond the sound.

The story behind “September” is almost as enduring as the song itself. It was co-written by White and Allee Willis, who eventually became a Grammy-winning songwriter and Tony nominee. But before any of that, Willis was a struggling songwriter in Los Angeles living off food stamps. When White reached out and asked Willis to help write the next Earth, Wind & Fire hit, it was truly her big break.

“We went through all the dates: ‘Do you remember the first, the second, the third, the fourth …’ and the one that just

felt the best was the 21st,” Willis explained.

The truth is that nothing happened on the 21st night of September — except a whole lot of dancing.

White and Willis proved to be excellent songwriting partners, but they clashed over one key element of the song: the nonsensical phrase



3. Lacking Specifics: Using phrases like “my children” to name your beneficiaries poses a problem. If you have a blended family, your stepchildren may not be recognized, or some remote family member you don’t intend to leave assets to could claim your estate. 4. Using Shortcuts: Don’t take shortcuts with naming beneficiaries. If you have three children and want all three to receive assets, name all three. Don’t just name one and assume they will disperse shares to the others. 5. Missing Designation Forms: Without verifiable forms to prove beneficiary status, the default provision of your plan applies, which is often your spouse first. Keep copies of your beneficiary forms in a safe place and make sure your advisors, attorneys, and executors have copies. 6. Disregarding the Readiness of Beneficiaries: Your heirs will have access to the money from your IRAs, retirement accounts, life insurance, and annuities without restriction. If this is troublesome to you, name a trust as beneficiary so you can place limits on when and how the money is used.

People often misunderstand the difference between creating a will and naming beneficiaries. It’s important to know that your beneficiary designations will always override your will, so keep that in mind and be sure to avoid these common mistakes. 1. Not Naming a Beneficiary: If you don’t name anyone specific, your estate becomes the beneficiary. That means the asset could be subject to a long and expensive probate process, and the people who receive the asset might not be the people you intended. 2. Not Listing Contingent Beneficiaries: If your beneficiary dies and you never name a secondary beneficiary, it’s the same as having no beneficiary. If your spouse is your beneficiary but the two of you happen to die at the same time and you haven’t named your children as contingent heirs, your estate goes into probate, as mentioned above.

If you need assistance properly drafting your beneficiary documents, call our office so we can help.


take a break



• • • • • •

1 package premade pizza dough

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

6 eggs

2 tbsp water

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 2 cups cheese of your choice, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 15x10x1-inch pan. Spread the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and 1/2 inch up the sides. Prick it with a fork and brush with 1 tbsp oil. Bake until lightly browned, about 7–8 minutes. 2. In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining oil on medium. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and water together. Add the mixture to the skillet and stir until thickened and no liquid egg remains. 3. Add the egg to the baked crust in an even layer. Sprinkle on the bacon and cheese, then bake 5–7 more minutes before serving.

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Don’t Let the Pandemic Put Your Life Events on Hold Page 1 3 Fun Family Activities for Fall The Truth Behind the 21st Night of September Page 2 The 6 Common Mistakes When Naming Beneficiaries Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pizza Page 3 Streaming Services Change Entertainment Page 4 INSIDE THIS ISSUE

ENJOY YOUR FAVORITE FILMS EARLIER Streaming Services Change the Face of Entertainment

The way we watch our favorite shows and movies has changed drastically in recent years and even more so this year. With the pandemic impacting the world, people found themselves stuck inside their homes looking for new sources of entertainment, and many found exactly what they were looking for through the numerous streaming services available to us. The pandemic made time for people to watch their favorite shows again and again, and it also changed the way businesses, such as Disney and Universal Studios, release their movies. Throughout the spring, many movies were released early and some skipped theater showings all together. “Trolls: World Tour” was released through video-on-demand and earned nearly $100 million in rental fees on its April 10 debut, grossing far more than the first “Trolls” movie debut in 2016. Other movies, such as “Onward” and “Frozen II,” were released early on different digital platforms for purchase or rent. One of the most anticipated early releases under this new system is “Hamilton.” This hit Broadway show has drawn thousands of people to the theater since its debut in 2015. A stage performance of “Hamilton” was filmed in 2016 in just over three days. The resulting

movie creates an opportunity for everyone to see the show, whether or not they were able to catch it live on stage. Disney bought the rights to the film last year and announced this February that it would be released on Oct. 15, 2021, in theaters.

However, due to the pandemic, Disney decided that what people needed most was something they could enjoy, even if they couldn’t leave their homes. On May 12, the studio announced the film would be available to stream on Disney+ starting on the July Fourth holiday. “Hamilton” fans and those who’ve never seen the play are thrilled to watch the film 16 months in advance of the originally scheduled release. Streaming services have changed how people consume their entertainment, and the pandemic has changed how streaming services offer it. Both changes are helping people get through these difficult times.


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