The news of deployment can loom over a military family like a black cloud. It is emotionally and mentally stressful for all parties involved. Service members want to use all of the time they have before deployment to enjoy time with their loved ones. With all that is going on, taking care of your legal affairs is definitely a must-do before deployment.

8 Legal Documents to Update Before Deployment

The service member may have a meeting with Base legal to take care of some of this. If they don’t, schedule one yourself to make sure your legal documents are in order.

  • Power of attorney: Also known as as POA, This document names one person who has the authority to act on your behalf for any legal or economic issues for the deployed service member. Powers of attorney are available at all installation legal assistance offices and should be tailored to a given situation. When drafting a power of attorney, the service member can choose between a general power of attorney or a special power of attorney.  A general power of attorney gives the designated person the power to perform almost any legal act on their behalf for a specified period of time. Special POAs allows the service member to give only special powers to the designated person for a specified period of time. When drafting a special power of attorney, be sure to list the particular actions or decisions over which the designee has power of attorney.

Tip: Set up your power of attorney for the duration of the deployment plus an additional three months, just in case the deployment is extended.

  • Last will and testament. No one like this topic, but you have to prepare for the worst. A will ensures that you decide what happens to your children, assets, property, and belongings in the event of your death and keeps the court from making those important decisions. If you already have a will, review it before you leave for deployment to ensure it’s still accurate.

Tip: Even if you already have a will, you should consider meeting with an attorney prior to your deployment to make sure you don’t need to make any changes.

  • Living will: Also known as an advance directive. This document designates medical procedures you want taken if you become too ill or injured to make a decision. Spouse and service member should have one, and a copy should be with the doctor.
  • Family Care Plan: Family care plans are instructions developed by service members to identify caregivers who have agreed to take care of family members during the sponsor’s absence. There are three basic requirements for the Family Care Plan: short-term care providers, long-term care providers and care provision details.
  • Marriage and family documents: Gather all birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, naturalization or citizenship papers, court orders pertaining to support and custody of legal dependents, legal papers/adoption papers. Ensure that they are accurate and in safe keeping.
  • Insurance Documents: Gather all policies on life, home, and auto to make sure they are accurate and in safe keeping.

Tip: Remember that these beneficiaries on your insurance policies may supersede (or override) your will. To avoid confusion, make sure the documents don’t conflict.

  • Property documents: Include all documents related to your property: deeds, account number, and contact information for your mortgage, any lease agreements you have and any automotive titles or loan papers.
  • ID card: This is more for dependents than the sponsor. You don’t want your dependent card to expire while your service member is away. Make sure your timeline is still good.