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2 estate planning documents you should draft before you deploy

Most Americans wait until after they've had children or have amassed significant assets later in life to begin planning their estates. If you're an active member of the armed forces subject to deployment, though, then it definitely speeds up the need to plan your estate much sooner than that.

One of the most important documents you should have drafted is a power of attorney. It will come in handy if you need someone stateside to handle some type of financial, business or household matter on your behalf.

Appointing someone as your power of attorney will be necessary if the deadline for filing your taxes will come up while you're away, or if a check needs to be cashes, or a property needs to be sold.

There are three types of powers of attorneys.

A general power of attorney affords the appointed to the role to be your legal agent when handling any financial or personal matters and continues to remain valid up until you become incapacitated or die. In contrast, a durable one continues to remain in effect even if you suffer a debilitating injury. It only ceases to be effective if you either revoke it or die.

A limited power of attorney, much like the other two, gives someone else full control over your personal affairs, yet it limits what and when they can take certain actions. It can be written to remain effective during a certain time frame.

When drafting a power of attorney, it's important to also take time to have either a living will or durable health proxy drawn up also.

In the case of the living will, it allows you to spell out the steps you'd want your doctors to take if you couldn't do so yourself. Most legal experts recommend you discussing the pros and cons of making certain medical decisions with your doctor before you draft it. It's important that both you and your doctor retain a copy of this document in case it needs to be used.

With the durable health care proxy, you're required to identify someone that you trust to make health-related decisions for you if you cannot yourself.

If you're considering having either a power of attorney, healthcare proxy or living will drafted to protect your interests, then a Glen Carbon estate planning attorney can advise you as to how to go about doing that.

Source:, "Deployment: Making Legal Preparations," accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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