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Protect Your Loved Ones This Valentine’s Day

Verbal expressions of love are deeply woven into our relationship dialogues. As we age, spoken declarations untethered to consistent behavior or actions lose their impact. Making household improvements may signify love to one person, while another values a romantic getaway. Replacing fear with feelings of security and safety is a primary characteristic of a loving relationship.

Estate planning documents are usually not found in a florist’s cooler, but they convey one’s depth of caring. You are still going to bring home a box of chocolates – there is absolutely no negotiation on that point. But, if a Power of Attorney happens to be on top of the box, then a good Valentine’s Day turns into a great Valentine’s Day.

Preparing advance directives such as a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will provides loved ones with the proper tools to handle a crisis. A sudden illness or health emergency may limit your decision-making ability. Advance directives appoint the people you care about to step in your shoes and make financial and healthcare decisions.

While the symbolism of Valentine’s Day includes hearts and Cupid’s arrows, true devotion is the simple act of a husband visiting his wife in a nursing home every day.

The last few years have been a wake-up-call to all of us: Life can take a sudden turn at any moment and the only GPS that is available are planning documents that map out scenarios and place your closest people in positions to act.

Estate planning offers a different type of security. Loved ones in the midst of mourning need to feel they can manage on their own. One goal of estate planning is to remove stress and complexity while allowing for the financial transition of resources to the survivors. Communicating estate planning wishes to your loved ones is an overlooked step in the planning process.

The reluctance of many of my earliest clients to divulge their estate planning goals to their closest family members was a common occurrence. Even today, family dynamics sometimes requires delicate handling of financial discussions.

The blunt truth is that we live in logistically complicated times. The dizzying array of online portals, secure emails and inconsistent phone support renders even the most basic financial transactions a maddening experience. Ensuring that all of your loved ones are on the same page, showing them how to access finances, and setting up beneficiary and Transfer on Death designations is a loving gesture nonpareil.

Surprises should be reserved for birthday parties, not for one’s estate.

One folder containing a Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will has the potential to hold more love than 50 red roses.

Alan D. Feller, Esq., is managing partner of The Feller Group, located at 625 Route 6, Mahopac. He can be reached at


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