Wills and trusts for military families


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Members of the military have a more dangerous occupation than the average American.

Because of this, service members should make estate planning a priority. Make a plan and prioritize estate planning now so in the event that something happens to you, your loved ones will have clear instructions for your assets.

Letter of instruction

A clear and detailed letter of instruction should be mandatory for all members of the military. This letter is not a formal legal document but rather a summary of essential information that is prepared to clarify your wishes concerning personal and financial matters. 

Items to include in this letter are:

  • the names and contact information of those who need to be notified of your death
  • what, if anything, should be done immediately after your death
  • any instructions or preferences regarding your funeral
  • an inventory of assets
  • location of all valuable documents, i.e. divorce decree, wills or deeds

This letter should be updated regularly and located where it can be found by the person that you intend it for.

Wills and trusts

A will should be a requirement for all military personnel. This document will explain how your estate should be handled after you pass away. You can designate an executor, beneficiaries, and a guardian for any minor children.  A poorly written will that confuses your heirs can be costly and add unnecessary stress to an already difficult time. The best practice is to get help from a professional.

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of another person, called a beneficiary. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries. Trusts do not have to go through the probate process so beneficiaries receive the assets more quickly.

Learn more about estate planning for military personnel here.