When you are an active duty member of our armed forces you have a lot to think about. One thing that is extremely important for our military service men and women to put in place are proper estate plans. Without proper estate planning, you will have no say after your death in who gets what. Your property, including family heirlooms and treasured pieces may end up not going to your loved ones as you would have wished. Proper estate planning ensures your wishes will be honored upon your death and your family and loved ones will be provided with some peace of mind at a difficult and trying time in their lives.

What issues should I consider in estate planning?

Your estate planning will depend on what you own and your family situation. Some factors to consider and to include in your estate plans include:

  • Any real estate you own (whether it has a mortgage or is paid off);
  • Your marital status and whether you will need to complete special documents to pass property to an unmarried partner;
  • Whether you want to execute a power-of-attorney or guardianship document in the event you become incapacitated;
  • How you would like your property and possessions divided; and
  • Many other important dynamics

How do you begin to estate plan?

First, you need to take inventory of what you own - do not forget asset accounts like retirement and savings account, stocks, investment accounts, etc. Next, you will want to give thought to how you want property and assets divided and to whom you want to gift certain items or assets. If you have minor children, you may need to set up a trust in their name - if so, you will want to think about who you would like to administer and control that trust until your children become adults.

Consider your objectives: to provide for your family's financial security? To avoid disputes and fighting between family members? To provide for a beloved family member's college education? To make a substantial gift to your favorite charity? Whatever your wishes are, they can be fulfilled through proper estate planning.

What are some common estate planning documents that active duty military members should put in place?

Active duty military members face special dangers in their line of work and often have questions about the documents they should have in place in the event of injury or death. Some of the most common estate planning documents for active duty military members include a Last Will and Testament, a Power-of-Attorney for health care, life insurance beneficiary form and documented funeral and burial wishes.

At the Law Office of Steven M. Bishop we pride ourselves in our complete family law services, including estate planning. We thank our service men and women for their service and look forward to helping you properly document and protect your estate.

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