While They Serve
By Edie Melson

Pre-Deployment Financial Checklist (Part 1)

Today's guest blogger is Ellie Kay, author of the popular military family book, Heroes at Home. She has appeared on ABC News shows "Money Matters" and "Good Money."

As a longtime wife of a fighter pilot, my husband and I lived through a lot of separations. I’m glad we had our financial house in order before he left. Today we have a Marine son who recently deployed. Since our son is single, there were aspects of this checklist that involved us as his parents as well. 

Ellie Kay, financial advisor for military familiesSo before deployment, whether you are married or single, it’s important to take care of business before you leave the U.S. It will make all the difference for your family back home.

Here's Part 1 of a two-part series on the important financial details to address:

  • Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS): Make sure this info is up-to-date for all family members since this impacts everything from being able to get Tri-Care to keeping a current military ID. 

If you do not live in the same household with all your dependants, be sure that you have all the current information (i.e. children who do not live with you or children in college). 

  • Military IDs: Make sure IDs are up-to-date and won’t expire during deployment. This is, once again, true for all your dependants. Sometimes the expiration dates are different on their cards than they are on your own military ID.

Double check this so your dependants can have access to everything from the commissary to discounted Disneyland tickets through MWR.

  • Passports: Make sure family members have current, valid passports. If a military member is severely wounded, then parents or spouses would need current passports to come and see them. So if you are single, contact your parents and make sure their passports are current.
  • Record of Emergency Data: If your family needs to be notified of a severe illness or injury, they will be contacted based on the information you have in your emergency data. Are you newly married and your name has changed? What about other changes to your information?

We recently decided to go from having a house phone line to only having cell phones. The house phone line was the one listed in the emergency data information for our single, Marine son, so we had to make sure that he updated that very important info.

Check with your parents and children who are dependents but don’t live with you, and make sure you make note of any info that has changed.     

  • Family Care Plan: If you are a dual military spouse, a single parent or have another family member dependent on you for care, you need to update your family care plan.

Your family services center can help you walk through the updates necessary to make sure all your family members are taken care of if you are the sole source of their provision.

  • Power of Attorney: The person designated in the power of attorney document should be the service member’s spouse, a parent or trusted friend, since it gives that person the expressed written permission to act on the service member’s behalf. There are three different kinds of POAs.

1.  General Power of Attorney allows for the person to buy, sell, trade or sign for almost any legal act on their behalf. If you and your spouse are having marital issues that may lead to a separation, then it might be better to have the spouse on a specific/limited POA rather than a general POA.

2.  Specific/Limited Power of Attorney allows only specific powers for a specific period of time. For example, they can sign your tax documents to file taxes or sell a specific car. This kind of POA is good when you are single and having a parent or trusted friend handle your business affairs.

3.  Durable Power of Attorney is the most comprehensive of the three kinds of powers of attorney. It remains valid even if the service member is incapacitated. If you don’t specifically select this option while drafting a general POA, then it will automatically end if you are incapacitated. 

Therefore, if you want a family member to have the POA even if you are incapacitated, this has to be indicated by securing a durable POA before deployment.

 

Ellie Kay is also a national radio commentator, a frequent media guest on Fox News and CNBC, a popular international speaker, and the best-selling author of 14 books including her newest release, Lean Body, Fat Wallet.

She’s the wife of an Air Force career fighter pilot, the mom of a Marine in Afghanistan, the mom of a senior at the United States Air Force Academy and the mom of a son in the Army at West Point, who is a sophomore. 

Follow Ellie on Twitter @elliekay or at www.elliekay.com.

Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.