NEWS FROM COHEN & LOMBARDO, P.C.
Attorney Freedman recognized by the Buffalo Law Journal, read the full story here
FIRST QUARTER 2018
TERRIE BENSON MURRAY was elected President of Board of Directors for the Family Justice Center of Erie County, where she has been a member of the Board for the past two years. The Family Justice Center provides a one-stop resource center for victims of domestic abuse and their children. Terrie has been an active volunteer for the FJC since 2010 when the FJC/Orchard Park Satellite Office opened.
MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN, as President of the Buffalo Presidential Center, hosted a terrific event in November, entitled “Presidents and the Press, A Discussion of the Role of Free Media in American Politics”, which was attended by a standing room only crowd. A timely and very informative presentation!
AMY J. VIGNERON has been appointed Legal Counsel to the Cheektowaga Economic Development Corporation. Her duties include representing the CEDC as lender in commercial loan closings to Town of Cheektowaga businesses to foster growth in those areas.
COHEN & LOMBARDO’s Charitable Committee was hard at work gathering gifts and gift cards to donate to Child and Family Services and to the Family Justice Center during the holidays. Fundraising events included a soup cook-off, basket raffles, dress down days and bingo, which our entire staff participated in whole-heartedly. Visit our Facebook Page to see photos of the gifts collected.
The New Year is now upon us and what better New Year’s Resolution to make than to find your Wills, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies and come in to meet with us about updating them. As the enclosed Legal Advisory explains, there are estate planning matters to attend to at this time.
Time gets away from us, me included, and we often forget to update our Wills when there are changes in our families. It is now two years since my husband and I welcomed our first grandchild, and we have recently updated our Wills to provide that any inheritance she receives from us will pass to a trust for her benefit and be held until she is old enough to handle it herself. If you have grandchildren who are under 18, or if any of your beneficiaries are disabled, please consider updating your Wills to better protect their inheritance. Your Will can name a trustee to oversee those funds and will direct how the trustee can use those funds for the benefit of the beneficiary. You can spread distributions out over a number of years, you can direct that funds be used in a certain manner, such as paying for college, you can direct where the funds will pass if the beneficiary dies before they are all spent, and if the beneficiary is disabled, you can protect the funds so that any government benefits will continue. There are many ways that you can control the use of the funds after you are no longer here to do so yourself.
Our courts are very busy and it is taking longer and longer to probate Wills and have an Executor appointed to administer the estate. You may wish to consider the use of a revocable trust as a part of your estate plan.
The estate tax laws have also changed this past year and you will want to consider whether or not estate tax planning should be a part of your estate plan.
The enclosed Legal Advisory also recommends writing a letter of instructions for the benefit of your heirs. I highly recommend that you do this as it will make the administration of your estate much easier for your family and your attorney. List what your assets are with account numbers and contact names. State where your important documents can be found – are they in a safe deposit box, with your attorneys, in a file in your desk either at home or at work? If you have specific wishes about your funeral arrangements which have not been documented already, these should be stated clearly for your family.
Review your Power of Attorney and your Health Care Proxy. Do they name agents who are still able to act on your behalf? Are their names the same? Have you changed your mind about who can handle these types of matters for you?
Please call us to set up an appointment to review your estate plan at your earliest convenience.
TERRIE BENSON MURRAY & KATE SULLIVAN NOWALDY
THIRD QUARTER 2017
MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN was honored by the New York State Bar Association with the Professionalism Award at the State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in January, 2017. This award recognizes her “dedication to clients, commitment to mentoring and educating her fellow attorneys, and her exemplary ethical conduct and integrity throughout her decades-long career.” In presenting her with the award, Lilian Moy, chair of the NYSBA’s Committee on Attorney Professionalism, described Mrs. Freedman as “a trailblazing bar leader and eminent member of the Buffalo legal community” with a “long standing and exceptional” record of service to the community.
FRANCESCO A. SAVOIA participated in a Lawyers for Learning event for “Read Across America” honoring Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The event was held at Buffalo School PS 18, where MR. SAVOIA read to a group of 2nd graders, giving them donated books and snacks.
The exceptional COHEN & LOMBARDO BOWLING TEAM raised money to further support the mission of the Lawyers for Learning in May at the Thruway Lanes where all 65 lanes were filled with Bowlers with a “Legal Bent”. It was an outstanding event and the team had its fair share of strikes and spares!
RICHARD R. CAPOTE has been actively involved with the “SSG William R. Wilson III Memorial Foundation”, an organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of youth, Service members and their families, created to honor Billy Wilson who was killed in action serving his country in Afghanistan. Members of the firm volunteered their services in June, helping to build a new “all abilities” playground in Amherst near Williamsville North High School. The playground was built in the recently named “Billy Wilson Park.”
Our Charitable Committee continues its good work participating in the Hospice Bouquet Sale, collecting donations during “dress down days”and raising money for our Holiday gifts with never-ending bingo games!
SECOND QUARTER 2017
IN MEMORY OF RICHARD N. BLEWETT
We are saddened to say goodbye to our colleague, RICHARD N. BLEWETT, who passed away on March 12, 2017 at age 91. Mr. Blewett was a titan of the Buffalo legal community for over 65 years. He mentored many young, and not-so-young, attorneys over the years as he was always the “go-to” guy who had probably experienced what we were looking for somewhere over his long career.
Mr. Blewett grew up in Buffalo, attending school at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School and Lafayette High School. He served in the US Army in France during World War II and was injured there at the young age of nineteen carrying an injured soldier to safety . He spent two years recovering in various Army hospitals before returning to Buffalo to complete his education at Canisius College and Buffalo Law School.
He became a member of Cohen & Lombardo, PC in July of 1951 and remained there his entire career. No one in his family was an attorney and, growing up, he did not know any attorneys. We are so very glad that he found his way to the law as he has set such a wonderful example for other attorneys in how to practice as a gentleman and a professional. He said in his biography, “…as far as my legacy is concerned, I have no great desires other than to be remembered as a competent lawyer who tried to do the best that he could for his clients and for the profession and for society in general”.
He was recognized by the Bar Association of Erie County with the Lawyer of the Year Award in 1996. He was recognized by Canisius College with the LaSalle Medal in 1967, which is the highest medal that Canisius awards to alumni. He was President of the Canisius College
Alumni Association, the Catholic Lawyers Guild (now the St. Thomas Moore Guild), the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo and the Bar Association of Erie County. He was Treasurer of the Bar Association of Erie County. He volunteered for Catholic Charities, the United Way, the Kiwanis Club of Wales, the Board of Cantilician Center for Learning and the Cantilician Foundation, and Neighborhood Legal Services. Quite the impressive list of volunteer activities!
He was married to Barbara Jean Burkhardt and they had three children. They moved to Wales, New York in 1967, where he was the municipal attorney from 1968 until 1990. He enjoyed living in the country in spite of the long drive to the city every day.
We will miss you, Mr. B.
FOURTH QUARTER 2016
Maryann Saccomando Freedman was re-elected to the Board of Directors of the Western New York Heritage Press, an organization dedicated to celebrating and disseminating the rich heritage of our region.
In October, speaker at a morning-long conference sponsored by the Bar Association of Erie County’s ADR and Matrimonial Committees – “Doing Divorce Differently”. She participated with other attorneys and financial and mental health professionals in discussing the ethical, financial and emotional issues surrounding the dissolution of the marriage and Collaborative Law as an option available to parties seeking a divorce.
In November, Terrie Benson Murray was a speaker at a seminar sponsored by the NYS Bar Association entitled “Intermediate Elder Law Update”. She discussed the new “Access to Digital Assets Act” passed in NYS in late September and its impact upon our guardians’ ability to manage and protect an incapacitated person’s digital and electronic assets, which include, for example, Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, eBay, financial accounts, loyalty and reward accounts, email, domain names, blogs, online gaming and gaming credits, and much more.
Ms. BENSON Murray also appeared on Channel 7’s AM Buffalo program in October to discuss the need for Wills, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies. Maryann Saccomando Freedman appeared in November to discuss how we can help divorcing couples in New York. Katherine Bestine and Andrew Emborsky also appeared in November to discuss Divorce in New York.
Andrew Emborsky was invited to become a member of the Board of Directors for the Family Justice Center of Buffalo & Erie County. There he will join Ms. Benson Murray in our firm’s support of efforts to fight domestic violence in all its forms.
Our Charitable Committee sponsored many firm-wide events to support our charitable efforts. Due to tremendous support from our staff and attorneys, we were able to provide many holiday gifts for Haven House. We also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in November, helping to build a new home for a deserving family.
THIRD QUARTER 2016
Join us in congratulating ROCCO LUCENTE and KATHERINE BESTINE who were recognized as Super Lawyers, having been chosen as outstanding lawyers in a selection process which includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN was honored by the Federation of Italian-American Societies of WNY as Person of the Year for 2016 at a dinner held in her honor. Her accomplishments as an outstanding woman attorney were recognized in the areas of public service, in the judiciary, in private practice and as a past president of the Bar Association of Erie County and the New York State Bar Association. She was honored for her efforts to “break through the glass ceiling” in the area of law.
RICHARD R. CAPOTE has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Lawyers For Learning, an organization dedicated to offering and supplementing educational opportunities for Buffalo students, particularly focusing on students at Buffalo Public School 18.
NICOLE M. KOMIN has been appointed Chair of the Book Club Committee of the WNY chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of New York State. The September reading was I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (2013).
MICHELLE SCHWACH MIECZNIKOWSKI was interviewed by the Buffalo Business First for their Special Report on Matrimonial and Family Law published in the September 19th edition. She was quoted about what she sees as a growing trend of parents being granted split time or equal custody of their children. She discussed research that has shown that children do not fare as well in traditional custody/visitation arrangements as they do under this new trend.
NICOLE M. KOMIN has been appointed Chair of COHEN & LOMBARDO’s Charitable Committee. Each year the Committee chooses charitable organizations to support through fundraising efforts, through volunteering and disseminating information about their goals and missions. This year, we have supported Haven House, the Family Justice Center, Ride for Roswell, The National Muscular Sclerosis Society in the Bike MS ride, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in their Light the Night Walk, Hospice Buffalo in their Hospice Walk, Lawyers for Learning, WNY Women’s Foundation and the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts.
SECOND QUARTER 2016
Congratulations are in order for ANDRES D. ORTIZ, who was appointed to the Board of the Hispanic Heritage Council. He was formally inducted at the 4 th Annual Breakfast to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage in June.
MICHELLE SCHWACH MIECZNIKOWSKI was reelected a Trustee of the Association for a Presidential Center and MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN was re-elected President. MRS. FREEDMAN was also reelected a director of the Western New York Heritage Press which publishes, among other things, the Western New York Heritage Magazine.
ROCCO LUCENTE spoke at the annual Guardian Ad Litem training seminar sponsored by the Practice & Procedure Committee in Surrogate’s Court of the Bar Association of Erie County about Wrongful Death and other proceedings in Surrogate’s Court. This seminar is always very well-attended by attorneys in Western New York because it is required training for them to protect the interests of children and disabled parties in estate proceedings.
Please join us in congratulating RICHARD R. CAPOTE on his marriage to ASHLYN in May. We wish them many happy years together!
Also in May, Cohen & Lombardo sent its top-notch bowling team, The Rolling Rocks, to the annual Bar Association of Erie County Lawyers for Learning Bowling Tournament, an event which supports literacy efforts in Western New York. Our team rocked, and we had great shirts!
Since joining the firm in May, new associate Francesco (Frank) Savoia continues to volunteer with Meals on Wheels each week, delivering hot meals to shut-ins. He has volunteered many hours to help out these folks. He also biked 20 miles in the Ride for Roswell held June 25 th! Great job, Frank!
MICHELLE SCHWACH MIECZNIKOWSKI ran in and completed the Buffalo Half Marathon Memorial Day weekend! Congratulations to two tough competitors!
FIRST QUARTER 2016
Please join us in congratulating KATHERINE J. BESTINE who has been recognized by the Bar Association of Erie County for her extraordinary commitment to providing pro bono legal services to those in need in our community. She will be presented with the Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette Pro Bono Award at the Annual Law Luncheon on April 21, 2016. She is being recognized for donating 755 pro bono hours since 1991, for often accepting very difficult cases which require extra skill and tenacity to protect the client’s position, and for volunteering her time and energies to Haven House Counsel and Advice Clinic for victims of domestic violence.
In March, MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN presented an informative and personal speech at Women Lawyers of Western New York, about the legacy of women attorneys in Western New York. Mrs. Freedman continues to be a trail blazer for women in the legal profession. She has battled sexism and continues to fight for equal rights for women. She began practicing law in the late 1950s and continues to do so. In 1982 she was invited to a professional event at the Buffalo Club. When trying to enter, she was physically blocked and told to use the side door, the front door being for men only. She refused. This is but one small example of the injustices she stood up against. Mrs. Freedman was the first woman president of both the New York State Bar Association and the Bar Association of Erie County. She is a former president of WLWNY.
TERRIE BENSON MURRAY was elected Chaplain for the coming year in PEO Chapter CM. MICHELLE SCHWACH MIECZNIKOWSKI was elected Guard, and ERIN MOLISANI was elected Assistant Guard. The Philanthropic Education Organization (PEO) supports women in their pursuit of higher education through scholarships, grants, awards and loans. The organization was founded in 1869 and owns and supports Cottey College, a women’s college located in Nevada, Missouri.
The firm’s Charitable Committee sponsored the First Annual Chili Cook-Off, raising funds for the family of Demetrius Johnson, who passed away while saving his children in a terrible fire. Congratulations to our winner – Jim Nash!
FOURTH QUARTER 2015
JAMES J. NASH and his wife, Lauren, served as Chairs of the Annual BISON Children’s Scholarship Fundraiser, raising a record $300,000. Founded in 1995, the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund is a privately funded tuition assistance program for low-income elementary school children.
JAMES J. NASH was recognized by Buffalo Business First as one of WNY LEGAL ELITE who are nominated by other lawyers for their outstanding legal work in WNY.
MICHELLE SCHWACH MIECZNIKOWSKI was appointed Co-Chair of the Matrimonial and Family Law Committee of the Bar Association of Erie County.
ERIN E. MOLISANI was appointed to the Board of the Defense TrialLawyers Association of Western New York.
MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN was reappointed to the Board of Trustees of the 8th Judicial District Law Library. MRS. FREEDMENs daughter, BRENDA FREEDMAN was elected Judge of the Erie County Family Court.
KATHERINE J. BESTINE was elected to her 4th 4-year term on the Kenmore Village Board of Trustees.
Join us in congratulating MATTHEW A. LOUISOS and his wife, Marisa, on the birth of their first child, CAMDEN MATTHEW LOUISOS, in September; AMY PESTA on the birth of her son, DOMINICK DEAN SMITH, in November; and TERRIE BENSON MURRAY and her husband, Jim, on their first granddaughter, CLAIRE JAMES MURRAY on New Year’s Eve.
COHEN & LOMBARDO staff and attorneys participated in the Light the Night Walk on September 25th in Delaware Park. This walk is hosted by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Continuing our firm’s commitment to the community, gift cards were donated to HAVEN HOUSE in December, using funds raised by our Charitable Committee which organized dress down days, pie and brownie bake-off challenges, guess the date/weight of the baby, and a 50/50 raffle. Gift cards give the moms and their children a way to purchase holiday gifts for each other.
Thank you for your excellent service. We appreciated your patience and expertise as we worked through the important process of formulating a will and other related matters. It’s great to have you “on our side”