Merlino & Gonzalez October 2017

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October 2017





My 12 Years Working With Merlino & Gonzalez

A Word From Ken Gonzalez:

that goes over the heads of people simply looking to secure a home for their families. Ken, however, never lets his expertise get in the way. He speaks to his clients using language they’ll understand, even when he’s discussing complex legal issues. Simply put, he knows how to communicate. Sure, when he and I are chatting, we may throw around some real estate and legal jargon, but we never want the people we represent running to a dictionary after a meeting. Not only have I referred many of my clients to Ken and his team, I’ve relied on them myself. Anytime I need an attorney for either property or estate planning matters, I don’t have to think twice about who to call. For me and anyone in my family, Merlino & Gonzalez is the only firm we even consider. Buying a house? Make sure you call Ken. Need to talk about your estate? I’ve got just the team for you. My feelings about the firm were cemented when they did some estate planning for my elderly mother-in-law. Now, I’ve done more than my fair share of real estate deals over the years, but estate planning was like jumping into uncharted waters. Ken explained everything with clarity and made sure we did what was best for our family. It gave us peace of mind, and I’m so grateful for the work the team at Merlino & Gonzalez did. In fact, I’m always grateful to work with them. In the world of real estate, especially in the New York metropolitan area, problems can arise at a moment’s notice. With Ken, John, and their team, you’ll never need to worry about those problems going unchecked. I promise my clients the best, and that doesn’t just extend to my representation. The attorneys I work with have to be the best too, and Ken Gonzalez more than fits the bill.

One of the great joys of working in real estate and estate planning law is that I get to build lasting relationships. We are not a one-and-done firm, and I would never want it that way. For over a decade, one of the people I’ve been able to work with many times is Alison Ponterio. She’s a local real estate agent, so I’ve done work for a number of her clients, as well as helped her family out with both real estate and elder law matters. More importantly, we’ve become great friends. With that said, I’ll get out of the way and turn the floor over to Alison. I work in Staten Island as a real estate agent for Tom Crimmins Realty. Needless to say, I’ve represented a lot of homeowners during my career, and whenever they need a lawyer they can trust, I always turn to my old friend Ken Gonzalez. Ken and the entire firm at Merlino & Gonzalez are the very definition of professional. They return calls, they take care of their people, and they are just wonderful to deal with. As someone with an intimate knowledge of Staten Island real estate (just like Ken and John), I know how easy it is to slip into shoptalk

Alison Ponterio




Than Good?

Kids can be picky eaters. This is a fact recognized by parents and restaurants alike — hence the classic children’s menu featured at many restaurants around the country. These menus are virtually identical: chicken tenders, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, french fries, and so on. Kids’ menus are loaded with fried foods and cheap carbs. Some parents love the kids’ menu. It makes deciding on food easier. Or, at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. Kids’ menus are populated with foods practically every kid loves. But they have a dark side. Aside from poor nutrition, the kids’ menu changes the family dynamic. In an interview with, television chef and host Alton Brown (who you may know from “Good Eats,” “Iron Chef America,” and “Cutthroat Kitchen”) said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever let your kid eat from the children’s menu at restaurants and never, ever, ever make your kid special food to allow them to avoid whatever the family is eating.” Why? During his “Alton Brown Live!” tour, he explained that it comes down to control.

By giving kids the option of the children’s menu, you relinquish culinary control to your kids. The next time you go out as a family or you make a delicious meal at home, they are more likely to demand “their” food. This is a habit a child can quickly adopt — and a habit that’s tough to break. Kids are picky eaters because, as parents and adults, we let them be picky eaters. We perpetuate bad habits. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In a article, Dr. Cara Natterson suggests kids eat what the rest of the family eats. For instance, let them indulge in the appetizer menu, then build up to the entrée menu and let them share and sample your food. Encourage culinary exploration. When you encourage your kids to avoid the children’s menu, you give them an opportunity it helps them make healthier choices that aren’t loaded with fat and empty carbs. Make going out to dinner a learning experience, and before you know it, the phrase “kids’ menu” will have disappeared from your family’s vocabulary.

A TALE OF TWO CONFERENCES Our doors may have been open for nearly 17 years now, but we’re still learning new things all the time. Laws change frequently, and the real estate market moves at hyperspeed, especially in our neck of the woods. We’re always on the lookout for ways to educate ourselves and better guide our clients. This month, we’re heading off to the Global Real Estate Summit NYC to hear from experts, converse with colleagues, and crack a few real estate jokes — which, as you probably already know, are the highest form of comedy. Just a few days later, John will be back in Manhattan, but this time for an entirely different reason. If you know John, you know that he’s a bit of a geek. Well, maybe more than a bit — some of us know exactly what’s happening on “Game of Thrones” even though we’ve never watched an episode. Given his passion for this stuff, John couldn’t be more excited to head to New York Comic Con for a few days. With huge stars, immense displays, and fans traveling in from all over the globe, Comic Con is truly an atmosphere unlike any other. We know Real Estate for Dinner, Comic Books for Dessert

The Global Real Estate Summit NYC covers nearly every facet of real estate. It’s not just an event for brokers. Investors, legal experts, technology luminaries, and government officials will all be sharing their knowledge. It’s just a one-day event, but it’s one of the most jampacked days on our calendar. You can bet we’ll be taking notes and bringing back plenty of information that will allow us to improve our client support.

that John will return ready to talk about the latest slate of Star Wars and Marvel releases, and we’ll be the ones having to take notes.

They might be two very different events, but both the Global Real Estate Summit NYC and New York Comic Con are highlighted on the calendar at Merlino & Gonzalez.



There are many myths surrounding estate planning, but without question, the most pervasive misconception is that estate planning is only for seniors and the ultra-wealthy. That’s not remotely true. Too many people put off estate planning until far too late in life. Now, we get that nobody wants to think about death or disability, but establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect you and your loved ones. The first reason why you need an estate plan is pretty straightforward: You want to protect your stuff. If you own a home or have other valuable assets, you want to make sure they end up in the hands of your loved ones. Without proper legal documentation, untangling an estate can take years and cost thousands of dollars. A lack of planning can also lead to contentious family disputes. You deserve full say in how your assets are allocated, and an estate plan achieves this.

Estate plans don’t just protect objects. They also guarantee your wishes will be honored. If you are incapacitated due to illness or injury, you don’t want hospital staff making medical decisions on your behalf. Designating a trustworthy person with power of attorney will make sure a loved and trusted authority will have final say in any medical matters. Finally, an estate plan gives you peace of mind. You’ve worked hard to provide for your family, and you want to be sure that if something happens, they won’t be put in a bind. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Put your energy to good use when it comes to protecting your family. At Merlino & Gonzalez, we’ve created an estate planning road map to put you on the path to security and peace of mind. Call us today to learn more.



This vegetarian meal comes together in less than 15 minutes. It’s the perfect way to avoid takeout on a busy weeknight. • 4 medium poblano chilies, halved and seeded • 1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans • 1 (8.8-ounce) pouch microwaveable cooked long- grain rice INGREDIENTS

• ½ cup picante sauce • 1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional) halves. Cover with wax paper; microwave on high 2 minutes. 3. Uncover chilies, sprinkle each half with 2 tablespoons cheese, and microwave on high 1–2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.


1. Place chili halves, cut sides

up, on a round microwave-safe plate. Cover with wax paper; microwave on high 3 minutes. beans, rice, and picante sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spoon bean mixture into chili

2. While chilies cook, combine




394 Manor Rd Staten Island, NY 10314



Professional, Intelligent, Communicative Do Kids’ Menus Do More Harm Than Good? A Tale of Two Conferences Why You Need an Estate Plan Refried Bean Poblanos With Cheese How Farmers Grow Giant Pumpkins

pollinated. Farmers will usually take it upon themselves to pollinate, using pollen from plants with proven genetic lines. Winning pumpkins usually claim their “father” plant and “mother” seed, like racehorses. Growing a great pumpkin is practically a full-time job, with some farmers reporting spending 40 hours a week on it. Using heated soil, installing fences to reduce wind, adding sand, and other specific cultivation techniques gives the pumpkin a fighting chance to grow into a monster. But, in the end, there’s an element of luck. The competitive growing industry is getting bigger (pun intended). In 1979, the largest pumpkin on record was 438 pounds. Since 2008, the world record has been broken every year. The reigning heavyweight champion, grown in Germany last year, weighed in at 2,623 pounds. That’s as much as a 2018 Toyota Yaris or 1,748 standard pumpkin pies. GI ANT How Farmers Grow Those Pumpkins

Forklifts and cranes may be used mainly for construction work, but every fall, thousands of backyard gardeners use them as gardening tools — or rather, harvesting tools — for their largest single crop. Massive pumpkins aren’t practical, but they can become a minor tourist attraction in your hometown and even win a few thousand bucks if they’re really huge. However, with the time and effort it takes to get them that big, farmers aren’t in it for the money. They’re in it for the glory. Growing these monstrous fruits (yes, they are technically fruits) is kind of like breeding a racehorse. It takes practice, cultivation, and even good genes. Competitive growers will often purchase the seeds of the previous year’s champions for their plant. After preparing the soil to make it extra fertile, they’ll plant the pumpkin in late winter or early spring. Before the gourd starts growing, flowers on the plant need to be 4

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