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Know Before You Go: The Importance of a Power of Attorney

Among the long list of “to-dos” on your pre-deployment list, one of the most important is creating a power of attorney. This is so that if it becomes necessary, others can make important decisions for you including medical decisions for you.

Making sure your bank accounts, credit cards, household services and other business affairs are accessible to another adult before you leave for deployment is essential to your financial welfare. Using your military legal service office, you can complete the steps necessary to create a power of attorney.

Two Major Types

There are two types of power of attorney: the first grants a general power of attorney. Under this type, your agent has nearly complete control over your finances and personal affairs should you not be able to act on your own behalf. The only circumstances that would revoke the rights of general power of attorney upon your death or should you become incapacitated. In the event that this might happen, many people choose to add a clause in their contract that the power of attorney should continue until death or you personally revoke the entire document.

The second type of contract is a limited power of attorney. This type allows your agent to perform only the tasks specified in the document, and no other ones in certain circumstances and/or for a certain period of time.

Living Wills and Durable Health Care

Other important documents included provided to the power of attorney is your living will and durable health care power of attorney. Your living will is designed to specify medical procedures you want taken should you become too ill to act on your own behalf. Included in this document are specific treatments you will either accept or reject. Make sure your doctors
are aware of your requests and be sure to leave them copies of your will.

It is also important to appoint a durable health care power of attorney. This is the person who will make important decisions regarding your health or medical treatment should you become incapacitated. Because of the complexity of this contract, it is best to hire a lawyer specifically trained in this field to prepare the paperwork.

Finally, before leaving for deployment, talk with your family or loved ones about the power of attorney and confirm that your financial institutions are aware as well.

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