The stores have been stocked with floating heart balloons, stuffed animals, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates since before New Year’s Day. Your mind might be racing about what you can give to your special someone (or even to yourself) to show how much you care. 

Will it be dozens of roses this year, or maybe a new piece of jewelry, an edible fruit arrangement, or sweets? Before you fall into the traditional trap of standard “Cupid day” gifts, I suggest that you decide to break tradition. 

Give something more unique this Valentine’s Day. Show your true love and affection in a way that can be lasting and carried on even after you have passed away. 

What is this unique gift you ask? An estate plan! 

Creating an estate plan has meaning – it’s not something that is just tossed together with a pretty bow. When creating an estate plan, you are placing the needs of your loved ones into consideration and also planning for the management of your own care during the potential time of incapacity. 

Getting your own financial and estate planning affairs in order is a big and heartfelt step that you can take to show your loved ones that you care about them. 

Some of your goals for your estate Plan should consist of:

• Planning for your own incapacity

• Expressing your end of life wishes

• Naming a guardian of your minor children

• Saving your family time, expenses and stress

• Avoiding (or minimizing) family disputes

• Legacy Planning for future generations

• Providing financial support for your families

• Pet care management

• Charitable donations

Think about your estate plan as a love letter to the most important people in your life. It’s a way for them to reflect on who you are and your values. Once you’ve created an estate plan, you’ll feel at peace knowing that you’ve created a solid plan that accounts for your own care management, and makes sure that your money, property or other assets are distributed to the right people or organizations of your choice. 

You will have provided the tools to guide your loved ones according to your outlined wishes. But if you fail to plan by not showing this simple act of love, then guess who gets to plan for you? The state! 

The state’s plan for the distribution of your estate could result in individuals inheriting and managing your assets that you wouldn’t have chosen on your own. Additionally, the state’s plan could result in more costly probate or estate litigation and disputes among your loved ones. Don’t leave your estate door wide open for these issues to arise – lock it and seal it with a kiss and allow for your created estate plan to be used as the only key that controls. 

Why spend money on jewelry that might not be worn every day, or on flowers that will eventually wither away? Giving a gift that truly matters and provides for security in the future is the ultimate unique gift that will last for years to come and be cherished by both you and your loved ones forever. Give that ultimate gift of love and speak with an estate planning attorney today. 

Jada L. Gaines is an associate attorney with Elder Law & Estate Planning Center in Bluffton.