Update important documents

Documents to update before deployment

Before you deploy, make sure your will and your power of attorney are up to date. In addition, consider creating a letter of instruction that summarizes all the essential information and directives that will be used in the event of your death. Note: your Judge Advocate General (JAG) office can help you with these documents.

Instructions: Click each document to learn more.


Review your will to make sure this information is current:

  • The executor of your will — the person or company that will handle your estate
  • The guardian for your children (minors)
  • Contact information for person(s) who will receive your property

Your will is probably one of the most important legal documents you have. Talk to a professional if you need to update or create a will. Without a will, your surviving family will not only deal with the grief of losing you, but also the stress of not having your estate distributed according to your wishes.

Beneficiary designation

Many accounts request you to update your beneficiary information directly with the financial institution. Ensuring this information is up-to-date can help to reduce confusion or conflict.

Power of attorney

Talk with a professional, or a lawyer specializing in this field, to create your power of attorney. The power of attorney is a legal document that specifies which legal decisions your appointed individual can make (or not make). For example, your power of attorney can list an individual who is authorized to place an active-duty alert on your credit report, close an account, or even refinance your home.
Servicemembers may be able to access free or low-cost assistance. Contact your unit or installation legal assistance office to learn more.

Letter of instruction

A letter of instruction is a non-legal document that basically lists essential information, such as directions for conducting financial transactions, an inventory of insurance policies or investments, and other important information.
The letter of instruction can provide important guidance in the event something should happen to you while you’re deployed. Consider including:

  • Locations of your important documents, such as your will, power of attorney, insurance policies, trusts, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, etc.
  • List of assets and liabilities, or debts
  • Who should be notified — and the order of notification — upon your death
  • Funeral instructions

Note: Make sure your family, attorney, or executor of your estate can easily locate these documents. Try to store them away from your primary residence.

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