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Why Servicemembers Need a Power of Attorney


When you created a power of attorney document before your last deployment, chances are good it was a limited power of attorney, and good only while you were overseas. Yes, it’s important to place controls on the POA document. Even family members and spouses have been known to abuse a delegation of power of attorney to clean out bank accounts while troops are deployed. But you can craft a power of attorney to become effective only under certain conditions, such as your hospitalization.

If you are incapacitated with an injury, you probably aren’t going to get any warning. In this case, if there’s no power of attorney document already in place, chances are you won’t be able to create one. Your family members can’t do this for you. It would require the intervention of a court to allow a family member access to your financial resources, even to pay your rent on your behalf – and courts are extremely reluctant to intervene.

You can customize the POA – for example, appointing one family member power of attorney over a checking account and the other over your other assets. Or you can limit it to making transfers for a specific purpose. These are called “limited powers of attorney,” and these are important safeguards to protecting yourself from abuse while you are incapacitated. 

Here are some commonly requested and crafted power of attorney documents:

  • POA for Check Cashing
  • POA to Buy/Sell/Lease Real Property
  • POA for Clearance of the Installation
  • POA for Voluntary Appointment of Guardian
  • POA to Apply for Dependent Identification Card
  • POA to Accept/Terminate Military Quarters
  • POA to Buy/Sell/Lease Vehicles
  • POA to receive or store household goods
  • POA to authorize medical care for children
  • POA to ship or store personal or household goods.
  • POA to Ship your privately-owned vehicle
  • General POA

You can get just as injured in a car wreck or training accident in the United States as you can in Afghanistan. A power of attorney document is a must – both for soldiers and spouses.

Don’t let an unexpected medical issue affect you and your family.

  • Make an inventory of all the checks you have to write each month – even money you pass on to your spouse or other family members to use to run your household with.
  • Make a list of everything you need someone doing on your behalf if you’re incapacitated for a significant period of time.
  • Then make an appointment with your JAG or attorney, customize it how you need it, and get the document in place.

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