Wills: part of deployment preparedness

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christopher Thompson
  • Base Legal Office
Imagine you're told, "Pack your bags." Are you ready to deploy? Are your personal affairs in order? In this day and age, deployments are part of life for military members.

Sometimes personnel are called upon to deploy with little or no notice and it is important that all servicemembers have their affairs in order before deploying. One of the items that can be taken care of before deploying is having a will, living will or health care proxy drawn up. 

The base Legal Office offers these services to all military members. Spouses are also encouraged to set up a will and estate plan through the legal office. 

When you are deployed, it's important you know your personal affairs are taken care of so you can concentrate on the mission. Some of the stress of a deployment can be alleviated by utilizing some of the services the legal office offers. 


A will is one of the most important documents servicemembers can complete prior to deploying. Your will is the document that controls who gets your property if you die. It can also state who you wish to take care of your children if something happens to you and your spouse. 

If you do not have a will, there is no guarantee your property will be distributed the way you wish or the appropriate person will be appointed as guardian of your children -- a court would decide. 

A will is not just for you -- it is also for your survivors. A will can bring a measure of peace of mind for your survivors who may otherwise anguish over trying to decide how to distribute your property. Without a will, they are left guessing. 

A will is something you should thoroughly consider without being under the pressure of impending deployment. Therefore, it's important to complete a will long before you leave. The legal office can prepare a will free of charge. Usually, wills can be drafted and executed the same day; however you should schedule a will appointment two to four weeks in advance. 

Living wills: 

Suppose through injury or illness you are unable to speak for yourself. A living will allows you to decide what life saving measures can be taken on your behalf and who will speak for you should you suffer an accident or illness that leaves you in a terminal or persistently vegetative state. This document may only be used if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. 

A living will appoints an individual to make decisions about life support and treatment. The legal office can prepare a living will for you and your spouse at the same time we prepare your will. There is no charge for this service. 

Powers of attorney: 

Powers of attorney permit another individual to act on your behalf. There are two types of powers of attorney -- general and special. 

A general power of attorney allows an individual to handle many aspects of your personal affairs. They can sign your name to documents, sell your vehicle or house, write checks or pay your bills. 

A special power of attorney is a limited grant of authority. It allows an individual to act on your behalf for one or more specific acts. The advantage to a general power of attorney is that one document covers many areas. That is also its disadvantage. 

A special power of attorney, because of its limited nature, is "safer," but more than one document would be needed to cover many specific tasks. For some financial and real estate activities, a bank or government agency may not accept a general power of attorney, insisting upon a special power of attorney or a power of attorney they provide. 

Powers of attorney are given for one year, so they should be updated on a yearly basis if needed. Everyone's situation is unique. If you are unsure whether you need a general or special power of attorney, legal office personnel can assist you. 

Walk in hours Base Legal Office walk in hours for personal issues are Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. Power of attorneys are done Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wills are scheduled by appointment only on Tuesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. 

For more information, or to make an appointment for any of the services referenced, call the base Legal Office at (781) 377-2361.