The Wagon Legacy Logo

Estate Planning for Military & Veteran Families

No matter the time of year, it is always a good opportunity for members of the military and their
loved ones to consider setting up — or revising an existing —estate plan. Military families need
to consider special estate-planning issues that others do not. This is particularly true when one
or more family members are deployed overseas. Beyond this, members of the military have
access to special benefits and resources. This can become complicated and, for this reason, it
is important to seek special help if you are a military family.

Whether you are just starting your service in the military or have been serving for some time,
consider the following common factors that may be important in your estate planning.

Factors to Consider

Estate plans should be customized to each person’s particular circumstances. In your estate
planning, you should consider whether:

  • You own real property and, if so, if it is located in different states;
  • You are married;
  • You have minor children, or children with special needs;
  • You have money set aside in 401(k), IRAs, or thrift savings plans;
  • You plan to give to charity; and
  • You are moving multiple times across states or to different countries.

Estate Planning Necessities

There are many benefits offered to military families that can help with estate planning. These

Life Insurance
Life insurance is an important part of an estate plan intended for those who are
financially dependent upon you, especially if you are facing deployment. Active-duty members
have access to low-cost life insurance for themselves and their loved ones from Service
Members’ Life Insurance Group. More information can be found evon the Department of Veterans
Affairs website. When examining your life insurance, work with us to make sure that the
beneficiary designation works the way you expect.

A will is a crucial document outlining to whom and how you want your property distributed
at your death. It also allows you to name who will administer your estate and specify who will
care for a minor or special needs children.

A trust is a separate legal entity that can hold property and assets for the benefit of one
or more people or entities. Similar to a will, a trust allows you to dictate who will receive your
property at your death and how it is to be administered. The added benefit of a trust is that it also provides instructions on how to handle the assets during any period of your incapacity. For
most families, a trust-centered estate plan is a better fit, but a will can work for some families.
Other benefits for survivors – Survivor benefit plans (SBP) are pension-type plans in the form of
an annuity that will pay your surviving spouse and children a monthly benefit at your death.
Likewise, dependency and indemnity compensation (D&IC) provides a monthly benefit to
eligible survivors of servicemembers or veterans (1) who die while on active duty, (2) whose
death is due to a service-related disease or injury, or (3) who are receiving or entitled to receive
VA compensation for a service-related disability and are totally disabled. When you are
examining any financial service or insurance product, it’s a good idea to work with an estate
planning attorney to make sure any beneficiary designations work the way you expect and
provide the maximum benefit to your family.

You Need Special Help
Members of the military often experience frequent moves, have access to several forms of
government benefits after service, and can be subject to some unusual tax rules. For these
reasons, estate planning for military families is more complicated than most.
You can expect an estate planning professional to assist you in setting up the following:

  • Powers of attorney for financial matters, as well as health care decisions (they are very helpful when a spouse is deployed);
  • Funeral and burial arrangements;
  • Wills and living wills;
  • Organ donation;
  • Family care plans;
  • Life insurance;
  • Trusts;
  • Estate taxes;
  • Survivor benefits; and
  • Estate administration and/or probate.

An estate plan has multiple objectives: to provide for your family’s financial security, ensure your
property is preserved and passed on to your beneficiaries, and determine who will manage your
assets upon your death, among others. We are here to guide you through the best options
available to you and your family. Give us a call today.