For a few years now, I have been refusing to “adult.” Yes, I had a baby, and have been married for a while. I’ve even managed to keep a dog alive for 6 whole years!
I’ve been a little late to the game in estate planning and creating a will. As in, I didn’t have one.
I’m not sure if it was a subconscious effort to avoid the fact that the end of life is a part of life, that I didn’t have time or just plain procrastination. But it has been 2 years since the birth of my daughter and she still didn’t have a legal guardian lined up in the (hopefully) unlikely event that she lost both her parents.
No more! I am now the proud-ish owner of a will, living will, spring power of attorney, and a few other things. It was actually ridiculously easy to get everything taken care of. Plus, it was FREE!
This week you will be an adult, go to your military installation’s legal office and get a will, power of attorney and any other legal documents as part of NextGen MilSpouse’s You Got This: 52 Challenges to Make 2016 Your Bitch.
Week 7 Challenge: Get Legal
Challenge Details: Don’t have a will? Power of attorney? Set aside 1 hour this week to call your military installation’s legal office and find out what you need to do get a will.
Already have a will? Review this document and see if it needs to be updated. Review any Powers of Attorney (and their expiration dates) and Living Wills you and your spouse already have.
Your Deadline: February 22
Bonus points if you post a photo of you getting legal on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #2016IsMyBitch.
One of the perks of being in the military or being a military spouse is access to the military legal system. Every base has a legal assistance office staffed by trained and board certified lawyers. Now, most of us are used to seeing military lawyers on “JAG” or in “A Few Good Men.” Many military lawyers are actually not defense attorneys, but specialize in family law and estate planning.
Legal assistance offices are located on almost every base, ship and installation. If you have trouble finding this office, visit one of the following websites to locate your legal office:
- Armed Forces Legal Assistance Directory: https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil
- Army: https://www.jagcnet.army.mil/legal
- Navy/Marine Corps: http://www.jag.navy.mil/legal_services.htm
- Coast Guard: http://www.uscg.mil/legal/la/Legal_Assistance_Find_Lawyer.asp
- DoD Military Installation Directory
Each military service has specific regulations regarding the extent of legal assistance they provide. For further information, contact your legal assistance office.
Ready to get started on your legal documents?
Before you get your will taken care of, you will need to take care of some paperwork.
Every legal office that their own standard will planning paperwork. The lawyer won’t see you unless you have filled out and submitted the complete packet to them. Some offices have packets that are for couples and at some you each have to fill out your own worksheets.
During our process, we each needed to have separate packets. This was actually nice since it meant that we could have separate designees for our living wills or estate executors.
We grabbed our paperwork during the drop-in/walk-in hours at the legal assistance office closest to us. Check your base’s website to find out when your legal office is open or give them a call.
Once the paperwork is filled out and filed, a you can proceed to the next stage: the appointment.
This part was also relatively easy. Our appointment happened just a week after we had filed our paperwork.
When we arrived, our lawyer walked us through each document that we had created. Our wills spelled out what we wanted to happen post-mortem: custody of our daughter, distribution of any money, and burial services and rites. If you want a gut check, try to disperse your belongings and cash while you are very much alive. We also had to figure out who we trust with our daughter. It’s hard to make a choice that could potentially affect the outcome of her life, pick someone responsible and not alienate anyone in the process.
We also elected to draw up springing powers of attorney and living wills.
Springing durable POAs are super powerful documents that take effect when a person is incapacitated and unable to act in their own interest. They last until a person regains their faculties or passes away. Essentially, the individual you designate in this document can do every single thing that you can do for yourself. They are more expansive than general or special POAs, so be sure you trust the person you designate.
A living will is just that: your wishes for how to live or end your life in the event of catastrophic illness or injury.
Want to feel like an adult? Put a Do Not Resuscitate into effect before you turn 30. You’ll feel all grown-up.
Now we have them.
And I feel more secure about our future. Our minimal assets will be distributed appropriately. Our child will be cared for by someone we trust infinitely. I feel confident that my wishes will be followed in the event of an unforeseen tragedy. I am officially an adult!
Luckily, getting a will is equally easy (or can be) for you, too! Just contact your base legal office and find out how to obtain your own will.
I hope you’ll feel just as adult as I currently do.