The first of the year is always a great time to be sure that all of the paperwork related to your soldier is in order. A lot of times, this paperwork represents something we’d rather not think about, but it’s important to be prepared.
1. Power of Attorney – This simple document is where the soldier gives someone the authority to act on his behalf. It can be a general power of attorney which means the agent can do anything on behalf of the soldier or it can be very specific only giving the agent certain rights. No matter who the soldier chooses for his POA, he needs to have one so situations can be handled if he is away. Without a POA, you won’t even be able to check on his bills, etc. The legal office on base can help with these documents and you can also usually find examples online that can easily be copied.
2. Know the Numbers. This is especially important if your soldier is deployed. Be sure you know his SS#, his bank account numbers (and associated PIN), credit card numbers (including phone # to call if it is lost or stolen), and login and PIN for MyPay.
3. Draw Up A Will. This is definitely one we would rather not think about but it is important to be sure it is up to date.
4. Ask the difficult questions. If something were to happen to your soldier, do you know what he prefers? If he were to get hurt, do you know what kind of life saving measures he would want to have? For instance, do you know if he would want a feeding tube, etc.? Also, if the unthinkable happens, do you know if he has any special preferences for his funeral? It’s a tough conversation to have but you need to know.
5. Know about paperwork. In addition to having all of this paperwork in order, you also need to know where all of it is. Set up a central location (preferably a fireproof safe or safe deposit box) to store all of the important documents – will, POA, birth certificate, copies of orders, etc.
Just remember, it’s best to be prepared! They also cover many of these topics at pre-deployment briefings which is another reason why it’s important to attend them.