Deploying Airmen should complete their legal documents early

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wings Public Affairs
Establishing a power of attorney, drawing up a will and getting legal advice are things Airmen shouldn't leave to the last minute before deploying, said Capt. Nicole Bryson, 62nd Airlift Wing legal office.

They should take care of these things ahead of time so they can spend more time with their families instead of tying up legal loose ends, she said.

"It just makes it easier on everyone if [Airmen] plan ahead," Captain Bryson said.

Airmen can get assistance by calling the legal office and setting up an appointment several weeks ahead of their deployments.

Due to the office's large client base of active duty members, Reservists on active duty and retirees, scheduling time to do last minute things before deployment can sometimes be difficult, Captain Bryson said.

The legal office can help Airmen appoint a person to whom they wish to give power of attorney privileges to help take care of domestic matters which the deployed member can't.

By establishing a "limited and very specific" power of attorney, Airmen can have the peace of mind that the person looking after their belongings isn't authorized to act outside the parameters set in the agreement, Captain Bryson said.

Powers of attorney can also help set up who will watch over and make medical decisions for the deployed member's dependents. Dependents of deployed Airmen can also visit the office for legal assistance should a housing issue arise or to answer questions about the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

"We can give them advice on how to handle the situation," Captain Bryson said.

The office can also advise Airmen and spouses on family matters such as adoptions, paternity suits and divorce, said Master Sgt. Mark Ackerson, 62nd AW.

Allowing extra time to prepare for deployment also gives Airmen time to carefully go through their will and think about each detail, said Sergeant Ackerson.

Airmen should set aside at least two-and-a-half hours during their appointments to make wills. This time frame gives Airmen plenty of time to meet with a military attorney, fill out a will worksheet and answer some questions, he said.

Once all the questions are answered, the legal staff will process the data, produce the will and Airmen will be able to leave with signed and notarized documents.

"Sometimes it's hard on people," Sergeant Ackerson said. "But it's not for the individual, it's for the people he or she leaves behind."

Although the legal office strongly recommends taking care of everything beforehand, if push comes to shove, things can be taken care of on the deployment line.

Powers of attorney can be set up on the line, as can a will, Sergeant Ackerson said.

"It's not ideal and it would be a difficult process, but we would figure out how to do it," he said.

However, the consequences of taking care of those matters under pressure can be tough on an Airman and even hold up the entire unit's departure, Sergeant Ackerson said.

"By getting everything done early, it's just one less thing to worry about when Airmen are in that frenzy to get ready to go," he said.