If you have a military spouse, you may not realize how much an estate plan could help you in the future. Your spouse may work in dangerous situations or move around the world frequently, and so both of you need to think about protecting your family.
Purpose of an Estate Plan
Estate plans are not just for wealthy people or people who own a lot of property. They help answer the big questions about your family’s future, such as what will happen to your assets after you die, who makes financial and health care decisions for you when you are unable, and what happens to your children if you cannot care for them.
In addition, estate plans give you peace of mind. Once you sign the documents in your plan, you know 1) that you have a plan, 2) that your assets will get distributed as you wish, 3) that the right person will make decisions for you, and 4) that your family is protected.
Won’t Military Health Insurance and Pension Protect Us?
While the military provides helpful health insurance and pension benefits, these won’t make a difference for your family in all situations. For one, your spouse may have forgotten to update the beneficiary designations on his or her military paperwork, so the benefits may not even go to you or your children. Second, estate plans are much more comprehensive and cover more areas than just health insurance or pension income.
For example, an estate plan will provide a framework for which heirs inherit which assets, as well as whether assets get distributed all at once or over time. The plan could include medical or financial powers of attorney, which allow chosen agents to manage a person’s affairs when he or she is unavailable or incapacitated. The estate plan also could cover distribution of military survivor benefits, who benefits from life insurance, and which funeral and burial arrangements should be made. Just receiving health insurance and pension does not cover all these topics.
How to Get Started
The military has many resources for getting started with an estate plan, and you may wish to consult a lawyer as well. Be sure to tell your lawyer that your spouse is in the military. Your lawyer may need to incorporate special language in your plan because you move often or sometimes live overseas. Most of all, keep in mind that having a plan – even a very simple one – is better than no plan at all for military families.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.