Estate Planning Before Military Deployment

Written on August 13, 2018

An estate plan has several objectives.  It should provide for your family’s financial security, ensure that your property is passed to your beneficiaries as you wish, and determine who will manage your assets and make sure that your estate is distributed properly after your death.  Military families need to consider some special estate planning issues that others, outside of the military, do not, especially if family members are deployed overseas.  Members of the military also have access to special benefits that may complicate their estate.  For this reason, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable estate planning attorney with expertise working with military families in Virginia.

Estate planning documents

Members of the military often move frequently, are deployed overseas to different countries, and have access to government benefits both during and after service.  They may also be subject to unexpected tax rules and issues.  Estate planning for military members and their families may be more complicated than for their civilian counterparts.  An experienced military estate planning attorney can help you with the following:

  • Wills and trusts
  • Guardianship for minor children or children with special needs
  • Financial powers of attorney
  • Advance medical directives (living wills)
  • Funeral and burial arrangements
  • Organ donation
  • Life insurance
  • Survivor benefits
  • Estate taxes
  • Family care plans
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Estate administration and/or probate

Some factors to consider

Everyone’s estate plan should be customized to that person’s specific circumstances.  Below are factors that should be considered by your estate planning attorney:

  • Are you married?
  • Do you have minor children?
  • Do you have children with special needs?
  • Do you own property? Where is it located? Is it in more than one state or country?
  • Do you have an IRA, 401k, or other retirement or pension accounts?
  • Do you have life insurance? What types?
  • What other military benefits do you have or have taken advantage of?

Though the military offers estate planning services to its members, they are often incomplete and do not necessarily include the legal requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  As in most states, Virginia has some unique and specific requirements for estate planning that need to be taken into consideration.  Even if you have used the JAG Corp or your estate plan was created by an attorney in another state, it’s a good idea to have a Virginia estate planning attorney review the documents and make sure that all your needs and Virginia requirements are met.  At a minimum, your Virginia estate planning attorney should make sure the following are completed before you deploy:

  • Get your legal documents, detailed above, in order.
  • Sign up for life insurance.
  • Update all beneficiary designations.
  • Make survivor decisions on your military pension.
  • Find out about other benefits for survivors.

About Melone Hatley

Melone Hatley is a general practice law firm and serves Virginia Beach and the Northern Virginia area.  Our practice areas include Family LawDivorce and Special Needs ChildrenTraffic Ticket DefenseDUI/DWI Defense, and Trust and Estate Law.  Our philosophy is to provide all of our clients with the highest quality legal representation, innovative legal solutions, and unsurpassed dedication to customer service.  Through our high standards, we strive to be a trusted resource to our clients.

We know from experience that a successful attorney-client relationship depends on our ability to understand your needs and objectives.  For more information about military estate planning, contact our office today at 703.995.9900 in Northern Virginia or 757.296.0580 in Virginia Beach, or visit our website:

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