Whether you are an active duty service member or veteran of the armed forces, having your estate plan in order provides the peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be cared for should something happen to you. Military families have particular estate planning needs, and unique benefits available.
Legal Assistance for Military Service Members
Military service members can take advantage of their legal assistance office to draft estate planning documents such as a Last Will and Testament, power of attorney and health-care proxy. To find a military legal assistance location near you, use the Legal Services Locator1.
Military Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document granting a person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, power to manage a person’s affairs in the event they become unable to do so. Military service members commonly set up a power of attorney prior to deployment. A military POA can provide the agent broad powers or can be set up to limit the powers to a specific task. Consult with your estate planning attorney before creating a power of attorney.
Life insurance is important for anyone whose family or loved ones depend on them financially. For military service members, particularly those who are about to leave for deployment, choosing the right life insurance is crucial. Members of the armed forces have several low-cost life insurance options:
- Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGL)
- Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
- Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGL)
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)
- Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance (S-DVI)
- Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI).
The eligibility requirements for these life insurance policies vary, so check with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to verify your eligibility.2
The VA offers pensions in two broad categories: veterans pension and survivors pension. Pensions provide tax-free financial assistance for low-income wartime veterans or surviving family. If a veteran is housebound or disabled and in need of full-time care, there may be additional pensions available. The eligibility requirements for military pensions vary, so check with the VA to verify your eligibility.
For the surviving family, there are a number of survivor benefits available. Each of these benefits has varying eligibility requirements, so verify your eligibility with the VA.
- Death Gratuity of $100,000 paid to the family of a service member who dies during active duty.
- Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) to compensate your surviving spouse for the loss of your retirement income in the event of your death.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) paid to the surviving family of a military service member who dies during active duty or veterans who die from an injury sustained during their military service.
- TRICARE health insurance for qualifying surviving family members.
- Burial Benefits including a U.S. flag to place over the casket or urn, burial in a national cemetery at no cost and headstone or marker for eligible veterans.
To begin the estate planning process or review your current estate plan, contact a Fifth Third Bank financial advisor.