By Jane Wolery - MSU Extension Teton County Agent

Kelly Gorham/ Montana State Univ

I hope feel some love today – by doing something you love, by doing something for someone you love or with someone you love or in quiet reverie with a pleasant memory of someone you have loved.  Normally, I’d be cynical about a holiday that has been highly commercialized, but my sweetheart, Darren Beadle, was born on Valentine’s Day. So, I have to say a Happy Birthday shout out to my husband.

Cards, flowers and chocolates aside, I think Valentine’s Day is a good point in the year to make sure you are taking care of yourself and the ones you love.  This may mean different things to each individual, but here are a few ideas.  Are you taking care of your own health through daily food choices and exercise?  Are there any habits or addictions you might consider changing or seeking help with to improve your relationships?  Are you getting routine preventive health care, such as annual exams, skin cancer screenings, breast exams and colonoscopies?  Had it not been for preventive health care exams, our family celebration today would likely have been missing the central figure.  Today is a good day to evaluate our behaviors, habits and routines to consider whether or not they truly benefit us and the people we love most.

Of course, Valentine’s Day can also serve as a yearly reminder to take care of the business aspects of our lives that matter to those we love.  February is a good month to review life insurance policies.  Make sure you have enough and the right kind of life insurance for your situation and double-check that the beneficiaries are correct.  Review your will to make sure those you love are cared for as you wish.  As you review your will, remember that your contractual arrangements take priority over the will.  For instance, a rancher who attended an MSU Extension estate planning class shared that in his will he left his operation to his daughter and son. Through further probing, however, it was discovered that he held all the land in joint tenancy with his second wife.  Had he died without discovering his mistake, the land that had been in his family for several generations would have gone to his wife of two years and not his children, which was not his intention.  He had to rethink how his property was titled and how to take care of all the people he loved in the way he intended.  For more information on the personal business aspects of taking care of those you love, go to msuextension.org and look at the MontGuides in the family financial management category.  They can be downloaded for free or requested through the MSU Extension Office in your county.  Review the Designating Beneficiaries through Contractual Arrangements and Estate Planning in Montana: Getting Started.  There are more than 50 titles in the family financial management MontGuide collection, all available for free to help you take care of you and the ones you love.

With MSU Extension in Teton County, this is Jane Wolery, wishing you a day to ponder the day-to-day aspects of truly loving one another, and of course, using Extension to connect you to the power of your MSU!