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How to Protect Your Valentine Sparkler
Sweethearts can spend around $4.4 billion on diamonds, gold, and silver each Valentine's Day. 

From silver rings to diamond earrings to gold bracelets, these tokens of love come in many forms, often accompanied by a proposal. 

If you are the recipient of one of these precious gifts, it's important to take appropriate steps to safeguard your new treasure.

Check your insurance. Typically, homeowners and renters insurance policies cover jewelry. However, it's important to check your specific policy for limitations. Your recent gift may out-dazzle your coverage. In that case, a floater or an endorsement may be a necessary addition to your policy to provide appropriate coverage. This can also include a "mysterious disappearance" clause, in case your new sparkler is ever lost. 

Update your inventory. Don't forget to add this item to your list of personal possessions. An inventory of your home's contents can prove a lifesaver in the event you need to file a claim.

Have it appraised. This is especially important if the item is a family heirloom. Establishing its current value will help determine the amount of insurance needed and how much reimbursement you should receive if you file a claim. Your insurance agent, who knows you and your situation, should be able to recommend a trusted appraiser.

Store it securely. A jewelry box may not be the best option. For valuable pieces, a home safe or another secure location in the house is a good idea. You may even want to consider storing the item in a bank safe-deposit box if it will not be worn regularly.

Store it digitally. Take a picture of the gift. This can help with the claims process and provide helpful detail to your inventory list, especially if the piece is unique.

Your insurance professional can be your best friend in advising on coverage for your sparkler...and will likely extend congratulations, too!

Honor Valentine's Day with a Special Date Night
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with dinner and a movie - it's a classic for a reason - why not switch it up with something different on your next date?

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, here are some ideas for that special date night.

Couples can build anticipation for date night by creating Valentine's Day advent-calendar type excitement.  suggests filling fourteen envelopes with handwritten instructions for each day, like: "For a day, instead of texting, let's send each other videos." The lead-up to date night may have you falling in love with your partner all over again and can make the night that much more special.

Have other couples as friends? Try having an Amazing Race-style competition.

Half the couples will come up with the challenges and clues, while their partners are expected to run the race. The clues can lead the racers to meaningful places around the city, where they complete challenges like purchasing a gift for one's partner using only the funds provided.

Once all the clues have been read and the challenges completed, why not greet the racers at the final pit stop with a hot, home-cooked meal courtesy of their partners?

Date nights don't have to be confined to the evening hours. For the more rebellious couple, playing hooky and taking the day off from work together can give a boost to the relationship.

Couples could spend the whole day relaxing and enjoying each other's company without the usual stresses of life.

If you're short on time or cash, planning a special date night doesn't have to be over-the-top. Just trying something new could be extra special: take a haunted tour of your city, indulge in a food-tasting adventure, or stay up to watch the sunrise together.

In the end, it doesn't really matter what you do-it's whom you're with that matters.

If a Tree Falls on My House, Does it Make a Sound?
Yes, but the sound of a falling tree won't be as loud if you have insurance coverage - that is, the damage will have a more tranquil effect on your checking account if you're insured. 

Fortunately, your standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for the home and any contents damaged by a tree felled by wind, lightning, or hail. 

What if it's my neighbor's tree? This typically does not matter. If your house is damaged by a tree, you should file a claim with your insurer. If the insurance company determines the tree fell due to neglect, it may attempt to collect from your neighbor's insurance company. If successful, the company may reimburse you for your deductible.

Do I have to pay for removal of the tree? If the tree has hit your house or another structure, your policy usually covers the cost of removing the tree, up to a certain limit. If the structure it hit was not insured, generally you'll have to pay for removal costs. A common exception is the blockage of a driveway or handicap ramp. If this is the case, the insurance company may pay for removal.

What about my beautiful plants? Fortunately, your lovely rosebushes are covered, too. If fire, lightning, explosion, theft, or vandalism damages a tree itself or other shrubs and plants, your homeowners insurance usually covers this as well. The limit is generally 5 percent of the insured amount on the home and is typically capped at $500 for any one plant.

All About Love... and Life Insurance

There are many types of life insurance, just as there are many types of couples, often making it confusing for lovebirds who are trying to decide what coverage is best for their needs.

Young families

Growing families often have the greatest need because the children won't be fully capable of taking care of their own financial requirements for decades; if one partner passes away, that's a big burden for the other one to shoulder alone.

Older couples

Older couples, however, also can use life insurance, especially if one works and the other doesn't, or one earns significantly more than the other. In this case, life insurance should be purchased on the life of the higher earner so the one with the lower earnings isn't faced with bills he or she can't pay.

Other arrangements

More unusual circumstances can create greater challenges. Consider, for example, a couple in their 50s, together for a decade but unmarried. The woman has significant assets and income – including the home the couple lives in – but she also has two adult children from a previous marriage to whom she plans to leave her assets, including her house. The man has fewer assets and a lower income, but has contributed to renovations on the house.

After her death, the courts may well decide that, given what the man contributed toward the home, it would belong in part to him. And her plan to leave the house entirely to her children might not work out.

This couple would be well advised to write a cohabitation contract and individual wills, which will enshrine her wishes regarding her home. The couple also should consider (and discuss with an advisor) purchasing insurance on the woman's life.
On her death, the life insurance policy would give the man sufficient funds to live comfortably, without having to worry about moving from the home and the resulting extra expenses he'd incur.

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Recipe: Quick and Decadent Dark Chocolate Mousse
This romantic dessert is a perfect finale for a Valentine's Day dinner. It yields 3 cups of mousse.
5 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brewed espresso/coffee
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Place the chocolate, butter, and espresso in a microwavable bowl, and microwave in increments of 15-25 seconds, stirring each time until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream and sugar with an electric mixer until firm, being careful to not to overbeat. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream until it's an even consistency and color. Spoon the mousse into ramekins or martini glasses, and garnish with fresh berries, shaved chocolate, or a mint sprig.

Can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to an hour.

Worth Quoting
This month, some famous quotes on the topic of parenting:

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

Charles R. Swindoll

Childhood is a short season.

Helen Hayes

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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