Serving in the military is often a high-risk job, making it important to plan for your family’s future in the event that something happens during your service. At Cook, Craig, and Francuzenko, we are truly grateful for our military and we take pride in helping them plan. That’s why we compiled this estate planning checklist for retired and active military.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is important for everyone, but especially for those who wear the uniform and put their lives on the line for our freedom. Even in retirement, some face a higher risk of unexpected illness and death. For example, those in war and other high-risk zones have an increased illness and experience stress related illnesses.
Having an estate plan helps ensure that your wishes and desires are met for your loved ones, and that your wishes regarding your medical care and finances are met, no matter the circumstances. As a military member you may have estate planning documents prepared by the JAG corps or other military legal services. Those documents are often sufficient at a base line level but can become out of date or no longer relevant as your service and family life get more complicated.
Advanced Medical Directive
If you become incapacitated for any reason, you will need an advanced medical directive with a medical power of attorney. This document gives your chosen agent the power to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Without it, the Court may be asked to make that decision. Your agent will ensure that the wishes regarding resuscitation, life support, medications, and other medical choices are met.
General Durable Power of Attorney
Similar to a medical POA, a financial power of attorney gives your chosen agent the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. This includes signing checks, opening or closing bank accounts, managing assets and the like.
Last Will and Testament
Under your will, you can leave instructions for how you want your probate assets distributed. Without a will, state law directs your assets to your next of kin.
Revocable Living Trust
Assets held in a Revocable Living Trust avoid probate. Setting up and funding a trust gives you greater control over your assets than a will and can provide added benefits if you survive but lose your capacity. Among other features of a Trust, you decide when and how your assets are distributed, whether in full amount or in installments.
When you are ready to begin your estate planning, you should inventory your assets and mark down by whom they are owned. Next, you need to make a list of your agents and beneficiaries and decide who will fill important toles like the executor of your will, trustee of your trust, guardian of your children, power of attorneys, and more.
Estate planning can be difficult, but it is the best way to protect your loved ones from an unpredictable future. Our attorneys have the experience to guide you through the estate planning process and ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. To learn more, please contact Cook, Craig, and Francuzenko today and ask about our military discount.