Youth and good health can confer a sense of bulletproof freedom, but the reality is that military service exposes you and your family to increased legal and financial risks. Build a foundation of security by taking care of critical legal arrangements right now. These documents lay a safety net to ensure you and your family are taken care before you leave on deployment.
Basic records Gather and store these personal and family records in a safe place where your family or designated agent knows where to find them.
- Birth certificates or adoption records for the entire family
- Marriage certificate
- Court orders for divorces, child custody, and support
- Passports and citizenship or naturalization papers for each family member
- Social Security cards for each family member
- Tax records
Estate planning directives Prepare or update these documents well in advance of your deployment, preferably before you’ve received your orders. Have them notarized and store them in a safe place where your family or designated agent knows where to find them.
- Burial and funeral instructions
- Living will/advance healthcare directives outlining your wishes for life-supporting health care
- Power of Attorney (POA) documentation authorizing someone you trust to transact business for you in your absence (As a member of PenFed, you will need to complete two required PenFed short forms — an Agent’s Affidavit and a Statement of Indemnity, which you should have notarized — and submit them to PenFed along with your original and/or certified copy of your notarized POA.)
- Will outlining how you want your estate to be handled, including directions for selecting executors, guardians, trustees, and alternates to represent your wishes and estate
Military program enrollments Make sure your family’s enrollments and records are complete and current.
- Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
- A Family Care Plan is smart to have on file if one or more of the following apply:
o You are a single parent.
o You are a member of a dual military couple with dependents.
o You are a parent, currently married, who has custody or joint custody of a child whose non-custodial, biological, or adoptive parent is not your current spouse.
o You have the sole responsibility for the care of a child or children under the age of 19.
o You have the sole responsibility of another child or children who are unable to care for themselves in your absence.
o You are the parent who is primarily responsible for dependent family members.
- Military ID cards for all family members
- Record of Emergency Data (RED) (DD Form 93)
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) beneficiaries
- TRICARE enrollment
Additional arrangements Consider these additional vital steps for protecting your finances and your family.
- Verify that you and your spouse or anyone else you’ve empowered to take care of your finances while you are deployed has online access to your financial accounts, including current passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
- Set up automatic payments for your bills.
- Talk to your family about government benefits and entitlements they are eligible to receive should you die. Let them know they can get legal counsel from the nearest JAG office while you are on active duty.
Need more advice on making these arrangements? Consult the PenFed Deployment Guide for help preparing a complete legal and financial toolbox for you and your family.