Friday, December 19, 2008

Wills provide important legal protection for Soldier, Airmen families

The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA) is committed to providing legal assistance to Oregon National Guard members and their families. The OSJA provides service members with basic estate planning services that include wills, powers of attorney, and advanced directives.

A will tells the court who inherits the deceased soldier’s property. A will is critical to establish important legal protections for a service member’s minor children. These protections include the trusts to ensure the financial security of the service member’s family and guardianships to designate who will raise the service member’s children if both parents die before their children become adults.

A power of attorney allows service members to appoint a person to handle their affairs in the event that they are either unavailable or unable to do so. The designated individual is granted access to the service member’s bank accounts, credit, and can generally conduct financial transactions as if they were the service member.

An advanced directive tells the service member’s doctor what kind of treatment they would like if unable to make medical decisions. An advanced directive helps avoid the financial and emotional strain that occurs when family members disagree on the course of medical treatment for a service member unable to communicate medical decisions.

Service members should review their estate planning documents every five years or in the event of significant life changes to determine whether modifications are necessary.

Basic estate planning services are extended to both service members and their spouses. An appointment with a legal assistance attorney can be scheduled by contacting our offices at (503) 584-3571.

Story by 1LT Michael T. Davis. Lt. Davis is currently serving as the Legal Assistance Attorney at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at the Oregon National Guard's Military Department in Salem, Ore. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law.

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