While you are responsible to take care of your family during your lifetime, it is your responsibility only to plan for them in case anything happens to you like incapacity or even death. While it is something that is essential for everyone irrespective of their age or wealth, it becomes mandatory for the people who are serving in defense forces as they have to live in life risky areas and environments. The military personals are more prone to life risks and severe injuries that can even lead them to be handicapped and thus making the estate planning more important for them to secure their family and themselves.
In view of the risky life that they live, the military itself bestow free estate planning assistance to its personals. These include legal advice and document preparation related to it. Apart from the basic legal documents like Will, trust, etc., it also supports you in opting best family care plan, life insurance policies, tax planning, survivor benefits, etc. However, he/she will not be able to represent you in the court during probate.
Apart from helping here, the military attorney has limitation of time and thus he/she can’t help you in making complex estate plan as they are involved in the preparation for the deployment of the service members. While a simple trust can be made with the help of these lawyers, it’s difficult to make a complex trust that could provide for a special need family member or when you want to avoid high taxes. Also, due to the lack of time and resources, they won’t be able to prepare the documents required to change the ownership to your trust.
However, you might discuss with your lawyer about other options that can help you in avoiding the probate, such as you can opt for ‘joint tenancy’ which passes on the asset to the surviving partner automatically. Other options include transfer on death accounts, life insurance, etc., that transfers the assets to the beneficiary while bypassing the probate.
Estate Planning For Military Person-
- Power of attorney: It gives authority to your designated person to act on your behalf to manage and make decisions in your financial and medical matters, depending on the type of POA it is, if you ever become incapacitated.
- A living will: You can outline the type of medical treatments you want or not, in case of a serious injury or terminal illness through this document. You can also describe your end-of-life wishes in it.
- Last will: Through this document, you can outline your desires regarding the distribution of your estate after your demise. You can also designate the person who will administer the process and the person who will take care of your minor and special needs children or family members.
- Trust: It is set up to manage and protect your assets. Like a will, you can also outline your desires regarding the distribution of the assets after you pass away along with maintaining your privacy, providing for multiple beneficiaries especially children, planning the taxes and avoiding the probate court. Apart from this, a trust also provides for your incapacity as you can set guidelines for this as well.
- Service Members’ Life Insurance Group: All the active army personals can get insurance from Service Members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). However, you can also additionally opt for any other policies to get maximum benefit for your family.
- Survivor Benefit Plans (SBP): These are like pension plans that will provide monthly funds for your surviving family if you are deceased or got injured while serving. Apart from SBP, there is a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (D&IC) which functions similar to SBP. However, if you are eligible for VA compensation for disability caused while serving, then also you will get the benefits.
- Funeral and burial arrangements: Your estate plan must include your wishes regarding your funeral and burial arrangements upon your death to ensures your final wishes are carried out. Your family is also eligible to receive funeral and burial benefits through VA.
The military personals are mostly moving here and there due to their deployments at different places. They also have access to various government benefits and are subjected to different tax rules as well. These all factors make estate planning for them a bit complicated as compared to others. Hence, it is advised that if you are planning your estate, you must seek advice and assistance from an estate planning lawyer to be assured that your estate and family are secured in the best way possible.