Merlino & Gonzalez - November 2022

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REALESTATEPLANNINGLAW.COM 718-698-2200 November 2022



Our Paralegal Bought Her First Home!


for a backyard, and Tom dreamed of a finished basement to turn into an entertainment area. Like most potential buyers, our home searching process was tedious. It felt as if every house we saw either had something missing, or it didn’t check enough of our boxes, or was way out of our price range for us to be comfortable submitting an offer. Out of everything we saw, there was only one other house we truly considered, which we missed out on because we hesitated to submit an offer after it was on the market for just a few days.

I love working through the home-buying and home-selling process with every client who walks through our doors at Merlino & Gonzalez, but this summer, I participated in a particularly special purchase. Our firm’s fantastic paralegal, Stephanie, bought her first home on Staten Island! It was an honor to be one of the attorneys representing her and her boyfriend, Tom, as they navigated this life change. I hope you’ll enjoy their story and the lessons Stephanie learned from stepping into our clients’ shoes.

It’s been almost three months since Tom and I closed on our very first home, and we’re still just as excited as we were on the day of our closing. We have a place that’s 100% ours! We can paint the walls, decorate however we’d like, and fill our attic with treasures. Before we found our home, Tom and I spent a long time house hunting. We looked casually for almost two years. If we saw balloons on the side of the road announcing an open house, we always stopped in to scope out the property. In addition, Tom was a big Zillow checker, so we never had a shortage of places to visit. We looked at over 30 homes before finding ‘The One’. Viewing all those houses (even the ones we had no intention of purchasing) made us reflect on what was important in the house we did have intentions of purchasing. Our main goal during our house hunting process was sticking to our budget while still finding a home with as many features on our wish list as possible. We took our time deciding because we each had several “wants”. For example, street parking, a laundry room, a spacious kitchen with a dishwasher, central air conditioning, and gas heating were on both of our lists. I was hoping

Tom and I were determined not to let that happen again, so when we later found a home that met almost all of our wish list desires: a two-bedroom, 1.5-bath townhouse style condo with an attic, unfinished basement, a large deck, and the bonus of living in the same Westerleigh neighborhood where Tom and I grew up in with our respective families, we immediately made an offer after the first open house. Unfortunately, we were told we were outbid. After the disappointment and regret of ‘not offering more money’, Tom said, “If it’s meant to be, it will come back to us”. And as if fate had willed it, the next morning our realtor called and told us the other buyer backed out and the house was ours at our original offer if we wanted it. And we definitely did! Fast forward to today, Tom and I are in love with our new home. With a little TLC, fresh paint, and new tile on the bathroom floors, the place truly feels like our own.





Winter is almost here, and as the weather gets colder, many people use it as an excuse to stay inside and on the couch. But if you don’t want to wonder what happened to your fitness goals when spring comes around, now is the time to start preparing. Here’s what you need to know to comfortably enjoy outdoor exercise in low temperatures. First, there’s good news: Your chance of frostbite in 5 degree F weather is less than 5%. So, outdoor exercise is perfectly safe most days of the year. Just stay inside when there’s a particularly nasty wind chill and don’t exercise on icy surfaces. But while you probably won’t be hurt by outdoor winter exercise, there’s no denying it can be unpleasant if you aren’t prepared. One school of thought suggests there’s no bad weather, only poorly chosen clothing. So, if you want to exercise outdoors in the winter, you must set yourself up for success with the proper gear. Dress in layers and put them on in the correct order. Opt for a moisture-wicking material as your bottom layer, then add a warm insulating layer, followed by a wind and water- resistant jacket on top. Remove items as you get warmer so you don’t trap sweat. Also, remember the wool socks, gloves, and hat.

strains and sprains more likely, and a warmup will keep you safer. Plus, the additional movement before heading outdoors will help the temperature change feel less jarring. You’ll want to protect your skin from the harsh air. One of the best ways to do that is by staying hydrated. Though it sounds obvious, many people feel less thirsty when exercising in the cold and don’t drink enough water. Also, moisturize regularly and protect your nostrils and lips from the wind with petroleum jelly or Carmex. Finally, don’t forget the sunscreen — if skiers can get a sunburn, so can you!

Another way to keep yourself comfortable during an outdoor workout is to warm up longer before beginning. Exercise in cold weather makes


Next, consider how you can encourage your child to reflect on who they’re grateful for. Acts of kindness and returning the favor to those who have been good to us can inspire kids to put their gratitude into action. Doing some yardwork, sharing a toy, or making a painting as a gift can help children understand how powerful it can be to outwardly show our gratitude for the people who are in our lives.

Most parents want their kids to view Thanksgiving as a meaningful event — not just an opportunity to indulge in turkey and mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, most kids’ eyes will glaze over when their parents launch into a lecture about thankfulness. You will likely find better success by emphasizing the value of gratitude all year long.

“What do you say?” It’s a question we all ask our young children after someone does something nice for them. This practice instills good manners, but it shouldn’t be confused with teaching gratitude. Imparting the meaning behind the words “thank you” takes something more.

Consistency is the most crucial factor, so try to find ways you can incorporate gratitude into your everyday routine. Children of any age can keep a gratitude journal with their parents’ help. Some families also use a gratitude jar where each family member can write what they’re grateful for on a slip of paper and add something different to the jar each week. It’s the perfect way to keep gratitude front and center.

If you want grateful children, you need to be grateful parents. Consider how you can incorporate gratitude more into your everyday life. Are you as thankful as you should be? Do you repay favors and write thank-you notes? Do you regularly talk about why you’re so fortunate or what you’re thankful for? Cultivating gratitude in your life sets a good example, and many studies show it benefits your mental health as well.

These lessons may not sink in immediately, but by cultivating

these positive habits in our everyday lives, you will see a big

difference in the long run.



Your estate plan isn’t something you can “set and forget.” It’s a living, breathing document that needs to be updated regularly. Without proper maintenance and care, it’s easy for your plan to become imperfect and even ineffective! If you aren’t already in the habit of updating your plan regularly, it’s probably time to review it. It’s important to update your plan if … 1. It has been sitting in a drawer for a year or more . We recommend reviewing your estate plan annually on a significant date, like your birthday, anniversary, or New Year’s Day. Maybe in the last year, you’ve had a falling out with the sister you named as your power of attorney, or a loved one you named as a beneficiary has passed away. In either of those cases, it’s time for an update. 2. You’ve had a child, your child has become an adult, or you’ve become a grandparent since creating your documents . All of these scenarios could require changes to your estate plan. You may want to add your new child or grandchild as a beneficiary and adjust your child’s inheritance now that they’ve turned 18. 5 Important Times to Review Your Plan

3. You’ve gotten married or divorced since creating your documents. In this case, you may want to cut your ex- spouse out of your plan and/or address your new spouse’s claims on your assets. 4. Your financial status has changed since creating your documents. Did you inherit a windfall from your great uncle or put a large chunk of your savings into a new business venture? Your estate plan needs to reflect these changes. 5. It has been more than 3–5 years since you met with an estate planning lawyer. Changes to your life aren’t the only thing that can affect your estate plan. Changes in the law can also impact how valid and enforceable your documents are. Your lawyer can tell you about these changes and update your plan accordingly. If your estate plan needs an update, call our team today at 718-698-2200. We’ll review your plan, make sure it’s up to legal snuff, and update it for your current goals and needs.



As a paralegal with Merlino & Gonzalez, I thought it was enlightening to see the first few steps of the home-buying process, which usually happen before a client calls our office to start the legal process. Making an offer, scheduling an inspection, and dealing with the behind-the-scenes back- and-forth are some things I’ve never experienced professionally. I know our clients pay close attention to their deals. If they’re waiting to hear back on a step in the buying process, they’ll call or email our firm throughout the day. Being on the other side of the fence now, I totally understand where they’re coming from! The buying process is both stressful and exciting, and when you’re waiting for an answer from your realtor, inspector, lender, management company, or anyone else for that matter, sometimes two hours can feel like two weeks. I found myself doing the same thing, reaching out to John, Ken, and our team regularly to check on how things were progressing. As first time home buyers, it was comforting to know we were, without a doubt, in good hands. Our experience with the firm was seamless. From our first question and throughout the entire process up to the closing and beyond, the team took care of us and gave us great advice. The immediate attention Tom and I were given and the way we were treated like family, is the same attention our office gives to all of our clients. It was incredibly special to experience this personal and professional journey together. As a paralegal and now a client of Merlino & Gonzalez, I am so proud and honored to be a part of this amazing team! -Stephanie DiAngelo & Tom Walsh

Inspired by

If you’re feeling old-fashioned, treat yourself to this warm and bubbly dish. Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a classic apple recipe.


• 1 tbsp lemon juice • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour • 1/3 cup butter, cold • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

• 3 cups peeled and chopped tart apples • 1 1/2 cups cranberries • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided


1. Preheat oven to 375 F. 2. In a large bowl, combine apples, cranberries, 1/4 cup brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. 3. Grease an 8-inch baking dish and pour the mixture into it. 4. In a small bowl, mix flour and the remaining brown sugar. Cut in cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle this over the fruit. 5. Bake uncovered for 25–30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!



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A Win For One Of Our Own Page 1

Getting Outdoors Despite the Cold A Daily Dose of Gratitude Page 2 When to Review Your Estate Plan Apple Cranberry Crisp Page 3

America’s 5 Best Ski Resorts Page 4


Temperatures are dropping and snow is falling in some parts of the country, so it’s time for some winter fun! Whether you ski, snowboard, or just enjoy the snow, here are some of the best ski resorts to check out this ski season! Steamboat Springs, Colorado A little less glitzy than some of the other popular ski resorts and towns in Colorado, Steamboat Springs is extremely family-friendly with a Western vibe. Because Steamboat is tucked away in the northwest corner of Colorado, the area catches snow from both Utah and Wyoming, which means you can expect some of the best skiing powder. Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana While Whitefish Mountain Resort was originally a sleepy, quiet, and remote ski resort, it has gained popularity over the past few years, but it still remains an under-the-radar ski destination with friendly locals and smaller crowds. For beautiful, lush Montana views and no ski lift lines, Whitefish is a must! Mad River Glen, Vermont For an authentic, deep-mountain experience, Mad River Glen is considered the best skiing mountain in the East. One of the best features of the resort is that

it has single-chair chairlifts — and no snowboarders! The runs are long and the sights are gorgeous while providing an amazing ski run, throwback style!

Aspen, Colorado Aspen just had to make this list! This incredibly popular ski resort has four different mountains, providing a wide range of terrains for all different skill levels. The ski resort town is fun, developed, and exciting as well. Deer Valley Resort, Utah A ski-only resort, Deer Valley is a quaint ski town with legendary customer service and unbelievable Utah powder. It should be noted that the chairlifts are speedy and efficient, and the trails are well-groomed. Lift lines are nonexistent, making for an exclusive and remote experience! 4

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