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What are legal affairs that I should consider before


Legal affairs encompass important issues

and decisions for family members such as estate planning, including wills,

medical planning, property and financial affairs, and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’

Civil Relief Act. Once a service member prepares to deploy or leave for

training, legal affairs are a top priority. These issues are the ones family

members understandably hesitate to think about, but they are extremely important

considerations for your family and you.

Things to take care of:

  • Are your home address and

    telephone number up to date?

  • Have you listed the correct

    beneficiary on your Service-members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) election and


  • Do you need a Will or a Military


  • Do you need a Living Will, Advance

    Military Medical Directive, or Durable Medical Power of Attorney?

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a written instrument that allows you (the

“principal”) to authorize your agent (your “attorney-in-fact”) to conduct

certain business on your behalf. It is one of the strongest legal documents that

you can give to another person. 

There are two types of POA; “general” and “special” (or limited).  A general POA gives your agent very

broad powers to act on your behalf; and a special POA limits your agent’s

authority to act only on certain matters. Every act performed by your agent within the authority of the POA is

legally binding upon you. Since a POA is such a powerful document, give it only

to a trustworthy person, and only when absolutely necessary. Your local legal

assistance office can advise you about, and prepare for you, the appropriate

type of POA needed for your situation. For example, a soldier’s spouse may use the soldier’s power of attorney


  • Clear government quarters.

  • Ship the family car.
  • Cash the soldier’s


You may hear that you need a “general” power of

attorney so that someone else can take care of all your affairs if you are

absent.  This is probably not true.  In fact, it is highly unlikely

that you will ever need a general power of attorney.