What Active Duty Military Need to Know About Making a Will?
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What Active Duty Military Need to Know About Making a Will?

What do active duty military need to know about creating a Will? Why is a Will important for your peace of mind? This article highlights the importance of creating a Will as military service members to protect your loved ones! Scroll to learn more!

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Serving in the military requires dedication, sacrifice, and a commitment to protecting our nation. As active duty military personnel, it's important to not only prioritize your duties but also take proactive steps to protect your loved ones and assets. One crucial aspect of this is creating a Will. In this article, FastWill outlines the key considerations and steps that active duty military should be aware of when making a Will.

Why Do Military Service Members Need a Will?

A Will is a legal document that spells out your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of your dependents in the event of your untimely passing. For military personnel, the unpredictable nature of their service makes having a Will even more critical. It provides peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and that your legacy will be managed according to your desires.

Here’s why having a Will is so important to your peace of mind: 

  1. Managing Assets: A Will allows you to outline how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death. It provides clarity and avoids potential conflicts or legal disputes among family members. This is particularly important for military personnel who often have unique assets, like military benefits, survivor benefits, or deployments-related entitlements.

  2. Addressing Military-Specific Considerations: The military lifestyle comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. A Will allows you to address these specific factors, like deployments to war zones or the possibility of being stationed in different locations around the world. By including provisions that cover these situations, you can ensure that your affairs are handled smoothly, and your loved ones are taken care of, even when you are away on military duty.

  3. Clarifying End-of-Life Decisions: A Will is your opportunity for you to express your wishes about medical decisions and end-of-life care. Serving in the armed forces is inherently dangerous, even during stateside training. Having these instructions in place will help alleviate the stress your family experiences. Things like advanced directives and Living Wills help to ensure that your preferences are respected.

  4. Peace of Mind: Serving in the military involves inherent risks, and having a Will in place offers peace of mind. Knowing that you have taken steps to plan for the future can provide a sense of security, allowing you to focus on your military duties without worrying about what might happen to your family or assets. 

Tips for Active Duty Military Service Members on Writing a DIY Will

  1. Keep Important Documents Organized 

The first thing you should do when writing your online Will is gather documents about your assets and debts and maintain a secure and easily accessible location for these important documents. You should also keep other documents in a secure location, such as your military service records, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and financial information. Don’t forget to tell someone - like a family member or your executor -  about the location of these documents to facilitate the probate process and ensure that your wishes are carried out efficiently.

  1. Include Guardianship and SBP Election in the Will

When creating a Will as an active duty military member, certain things should always be included:

a. Nominate a Legal Guardian: If you have minor children, it is crucial to designate a guardian who will be responsible for their care in the event of your passing. 

b. Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP): The SBP provides continued income to your spouse or dependents after your death. Consider whether you want to elect this benefit and ensure it is appropriately addressed in your Will.

  1. Review Beneficiary Designations

In addition to creating a Will, active duty military personnel should regularly review and update the beneficiary designations on accounts such as life insurance policies, retirement plans, and bank accounts. These designations take precedence over the instructions in your Will. Make sure to align them with your overall estate planning goals and ensure they reflect your current wishes.

How Military Service Members Can Use a Power of Attorney 

Active duty military personnel often face the possibility of deployment. Deployments or remote assignments can make managing your day-to-day affairs back home challenging. We recommend drafting a power of attorney (POA) document. A POA gives someone the right to act on your behalf. You can revoke the POA when you return. Having a POA can ensure the smooth management of your affairs.  

Before deployment, having a power of attorney in place allows you to ensure that your affairs are in order. It provides peace of mind knowing that someone you trust can handle your financial, legal, and personal matters while you are deployed. This includes managing property, insurance, and any other important administrative tasks that may arise during your absence.

In some cases, military personnel may hold important leadership roles or have critical responsibilities within their units. By appointing a power of attorney, you can ensure that your designated agent can act on your behalf in carrying out necessary duties, maintaining continuity within the unit, and ensuring that operations proceed smoothly.

POAs can help you with legal, financial, and healthcare matters:

  1. By granting a financial power of attorney, you can authorize someone you trust, like a spouse or family member, to manage your finances on your behalf. They can pay bills, file your taxes, access your bank accounts, and make financial decisions in your best interest while you are away.

  2. If legal matters arise during your military service, having a power of attorney can enable your designated agent to act as your legal representative. They can handle legal documents, sign contracts, and make legal decisions on your behalf, saving you the hassle of navigating legal procedures from a distance.

  3.  A medical power of attorney grants someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to communicate. This is particularly crucial for military personnel who may be deployed or stationed far away from their loved ones. Designating a trusted individual as your healthcare agent ensures that your wishes regarding medical treatment are respected.

If You Need Assistance

While it is possible to create a Will on your own, some military personnel may need to consult with an attorney. Military-specific legal resources are available to assist service members and their families. These professionals understand the unique challenges and requirements faced by active duty military and can help navigate the complexities of military benefits, survivor benefits, and legal considerations.

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