Estate Planning Considerations for Military Personnel

As members of the armed forces, military servicemen and servicewomen put their lives on the line every day to protect the lives and freedom of the American people. A person’s estate encompasses everything from a home, cars, jewelry and other tangible possessions to savings and checking accounts, retirement funds, insurance policies, small business and survivor benefits. It is important for our fighting men and women to establish a plan to protect their loved ones from financial hardships, reduce taxes, assign children’s guardianships and allow assets to be passed to beneficiaries quickly and without emotional stress or conflict.

A properly executed estate plan will include a durable power of attorney, a living will and a medical durable power of attorney and/or health proxy and a last will and testament. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that ensures that a designated representative will act on an individual’s behalf if she or he is unable to do so. A living will is a statement of a person’s wishes as to what life-sustaining medical treatment is preferred in the event of a coma or terminal illness. A living will is often used in tandem with a medical durable power of attorney and/or healthcare proxy for extra security when it comes to medical health treatment preferences.

When someone dies without a will, it is known as intestate, and, in this circumstance, the distribution of assets may go against the designee’s wishes. A will directs which assets you want distributed to whom, as well as which assets will pay for taxes and final expenses, determine who will serve as guardians for the children and executors of the estate and establish trusts for dependents.

For individuals who pass away while on active duty, his or her loved ones may be entitled to survivor benefits, including death gratuity. Death gratuity is a one-time, non-taxable $100,000 lump sum to help surviving members deal with the financial hardships that accompany the loss of someone who died in service to their country. A serviceman or woman may designate up to ten individuals, without regard to relationship, or may choose not to designate a beneficiary. If the full amount is not designated, the payment will pass by familial relationship: first by spouse, then children and then immediate family.

The attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates PC handle all aspects of estate planning, including assisting clients with creating wills and trusts, probate and estate administration and powers of attorney and guardianship. The firm’s attorneys understand that creating a will or trust can be complex or simple, depending on your assets, family structure, and other various factors. Contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation by calling (516) 280-7105 or visiting

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