What should I do to get my legal life in order before deployment?
Although each situation is different, getting your legal life in order before you're deployed overseas can be especially helpful for you and your family. Here are a few suggestions:
Develop a family care plan. Each servicemember is responsible for preparing a family care plan. The plan generally outlines who is responsible for providing care to family members during your absence. The plan should include identification of a guardian for children; location of necessary identification cards; arrangements for housing, food, transportation, education; and other important financial information.
Prepare (or review and update, if necessary) your last will and testament. A will is a legal document that describes to whom and how you want your property distributed, names the person or entity that will administer your estate, and specifies who (i.e., a guardian) will care for your minor or disabled child.
Create a durable (financial) power of attorney. This is a document in which you name someone to act on your behalf for a specific purpose (e.g., to sell your home) or to manage your financial affairs should you become unable to do so yourself.
Be sure your health-care directives are in place. A health-care proxy and living will allow you to express your wishes about the administration of medical treatment and life-prolonging measures during times when you cannot otherwise express those intentions.
Review your beneficiary designations. This important, often-overlooked function allows you to name beneficiaries of financial products you own such as life insurance, annuities, and qualified savings accounts such as your Thrift Savings Plan and IRAs.
Consider your funeral and burial arrangements. Your wishes for your funeral, the disposition of your remains (e.g., cremation, burial), and organ donations may be explained in your will or separately in writing.
Be sure someone knows the location of important documents and the procedures for accessing military and civilian facilities and services on behalf of your dependents.