Military professionals often have to face the prospect of austere training environments, combat, overseas deployment, and unconventional missions. Because of these risks, the need to have something substantial for family members who are left behind is vital. In the case of female servicemembers, the need to have an excellent estate plan cannot be overemphasized. Why? Often, you’re pulling double duty head of the household AND nation’s defender!
You will want to prepare the will that corresponds to the level of risk in your service. If you do not know what your options are, then you may want to consult with an experienced Estate Planning Lawyer. Ideally, you’ll want to have this discussion with an estate planning lawyer that knows a little bit about military service.
Moreover, while your military will might serve you and your family well during your service, there’s a good chance that your priorities, assets, wishes, and even family structure will change as you transition into becoming a Veteran. If you’ve already engaged a good estate planning attorney, they will be co-pilots on this journey with you already. That’s a huge bonus you get from starting your estate planning sooner rather than later!
Properly assigning your powers of attorney as you are deployed is a very important aspect of estate planning. Foreign deployments are among the most dangerous forms of all military service. You need to know that your assets will be properly handled in a worst-case scenario.
It’s common to assign powers of attorney to spouses, parents, children, or very close friends.
If you have young children at home (any child under 18 here in Georgia), the issue of who makes what decisions for the healthcare and financial well-being of your family becomes quite complex. It’s certainly possible that the boilerplate forms provided by the JAG office is insufficient for your family’s needs. Especially if you are co-parenting with a non-spouse. Seek the advice of both an estate planning attorney and, possibly, a family law attorney to get a parenting plan in place and a limited guardianship in place allowing the person(s) you choose to care for your children while you are away.
One of the biggest things you can do to prepare yourself and your family for any eventualities is to inventory your assets. While it’s good to draft a will and assign powers of attorney while you’re preparing for a new mission it’s only a band-aid compared to the entire umbrella of planning that you really should be looking at. Retirement plans, thrift savings plan details, SGLI beneficiaries & policy information, debts and mortgages, and so on. If the worst happens to you while you’re down-range, your family will want and need these details to pick up the pieces and carry on.
This isn’t an article giving you financial advice. But we cannot step away from saying that this moment of transition for you and your family is the perfect time to take a second look at your incoming money and outgoing money.
These are only a couple thoughts about the intersection of women, military service, and estate planning. But they are great starting points to one of the most important discussions you’ll have about your future. Let’s work together to make that discussion something you walk away from with a robust plan for long-term personal success.
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