There are many ways to say “I love you.” With Valentine’s Day coming up this month, most of us are thinking how we will communicate these important words to our spouses, kids, family and friends. Although the best way to convey how we feel is usually just to say it and act with love on a daily basis, sometimes, especially when we are thinking about the future, it can be a little more complicated.

Believe it or not, estate planning can be a very powerful statement of your love to your family. When completed thoughtfully and thoroughly, estate planning means your family and your friends won’t have to guess at your wishes. They also won’t have to go through lengthy court procedures, challenges with creditors, or be without an advocate when you are no longer here. While it can be stressful to think about life after your death, estate planning is critical to ensure the sorrow your loved ones feel is not compounded by crises that could have been avoided.

Want to really say “I love you?” Instead of giving chocolates and jewelry this Valentine’s Day, consider these five ways to say “I Love You” with estate planning:

1.Solidify their future. Take steps now to limit the reach of creditors on your estate. Grow your assets by consulting financial, insurance, and tax advisors, and set guidelines in your estate plan to make sure these assets will be maximized in your absence so that your family is provided for and able to pursue their dreams just as you would have wanted.

2.Minimize the conflict. Limit the chances of arguments by making decisions and selecting decision makers now. This will allow your loved ones time to focus on dealing with grief instead of wasting time fighting over what your wishes might have been.

3.Remove the uncertainty. During difficult emotional times, it can be incredibly hard for your family members to make well-reasoned decisions. Take the burden of responsibility off their shoulders by making the tough choices now.

4.Take away the stress. Estate planning addresses the uncertainty that can come with aging, being unable to care for oneself, and end-of-life decision making. To remain silent invites conflict, and nothing is more emotionally taxing than the burden of making a life or death decision for a loved one while unclear of their true intentions. You can alleviate the future potential stress of a loved one by making important decisions and wishes regarding your care and finances now.

5.Give them the peace to focus on what matters. Knowing you have taken care of everything from health care decision making and finances to taxes and wealth transfer strategies, will mean everything to your family when the planning you have put in place needs to be implemented. Giving them peace of mind when it matters most is one of the best ways to say “I love you” to your family and friends.

Remember, at the end of the day, estate planning is about protecting the ones you love and preserving their future.

Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an estate planning Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is passionate about educating others about estate planning and how it can be used to protect what matters most. Subscribe to this blog or register for an upcoming FREE workshop to learn more.

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