Planning for a deployment is stressful for both servicemembers and their families. It comes with a lot of changes to responsibilities at home and decision-making for future events. While you are deployed, not only will your family be separated from you, but they must oversee your household and finances without you — and handle unexpected events or emergencies.
While being away from those you love is never easy, getting your finances, documents, property, and emergency arrangements in order prior to a deployment can be. Being prepared can help resolve any concerns your family might have about what they might need to handle while you are away. Our pre-deployment checklist can help you make sure your family is ready. Here are the answers to the questions you may be asking:
What legal issues do I need to take care of before my deployment?
Deployment planning should include taking care of any important legal matters that may come up while you’re away:
- Assign Power of Attorney (POA). This gives your spouse (if you are married) or the person you choose the legal ability to act and sign documents for you while you are gone. Your base’s legal office can help you understand the different POA options and advise you on the best choice for your situation.
- Create and/or update your will as well as your spouse’s will.
- Review, and possibly increase, your life insurance coverage. Update your beneficiaries if needed.
- In case of an emergency, assign a guardian for your children in a special POA.
What documents will my family need?
Your spouse or the person you designate with POA will need to have access to several legal documents while you are away. Keep copies of the following documents (if applicable) together in a secure place:
- Power of Attorney
- Insurance policies (including life, health, home, and vehicle)
- Tax records
- Bank account numbers
- Court orders (e.g., child support and custody documents or divorce paperwork)
- Social Security cards
- Birth certificates
- Marriage license
- Wills (for both the servicemember and the spouse)
- Vehicle titles, registrations, and inspections
- A list of important phone numbers and email addresses
- A copy of your most recent LES
What financial matters do I need to take care of prior to deployment?
In addition to checking legal matters off your pre-deployment checklist, there are several financial considerations to address before your deployment begins:
- Notify your credit card companies and banks that you will be deployed so they will accept overseas charges.
- Contact all lenders and let them know you will be deployed. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act limits the amount of interest that can be charged on certain financial obligations acquired prior to deployment– including credit cards, mortgages, and vehicle loans — to no more than 6 percent.
- Consider opening a joint checking account (if you do not already have one) so that bills can be easily paid and money managed.
- Set up direct deposits into the right accounts. You may want some of your entitlements to go directly into your savings account.
- Develop a list of all accounts — bank, credit cards, loans, utilities, etc. — with the account numbers and due dates.
- Consider setting up automatic payments on applicable bills.
- Provide a copy of your household budget.
- Set up an emergency fund or emergency credit card to be used in case of real emergencies.
What steps do I need to take to protect my personal property?
Now you have your financial accounts and documents in order. But what about other assets like property? Cross off these to-dos from your list before you get deployed:
- Notify your homeowner’s insurance company to let them know if your property will be vacant. Also let them know if you move your belongings into a storage unit.
- If you rent and live alone, cancel your lease if desired. You are legally able to do so under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
- Let your car insurance company know you will be deployed. You may be able to suspend all or part of your coverage if your vehicle will not be used.
- Set up roadside assistance so your family has access in case of a breakdown. Also make sure the vehicles have emergency kits, and that your spouse knows how to use them.
- Create a maintenance schedule for your vehicles and provide a list of preferred mechanics or car shops in case of an issue.
- Make an extra set of home and vehicle keys.
What other preparations do I need to take?
Here are some final pre-deployment tasks to make sure you address:
- Update your Emergency Data Form to ensure it contains your family’s current emails, phone numbers, and any other contact information.
- Ensure your family’s military IDs are updated and will not expire while you are away.
- Contact your phone company to let them know you will be overseas. They may need to update your phone to send and receive international calls.
- Set up a Facetime or video chat schedule so you can talk online with your loved ones.
- Ensure your children are registered with the Child Development Center, even if you are not planning to use it. That may be necessary if your spouse becomes ill or must travel.
- Provide phone numbers where your family members can reach rear-detachment and family support groups if needed.
Bottom line: By taking proactive steps, you can help everyone to be better organized and prepared to deal with potential challenges while you are deployed.
Download AAFMAA’s Deployment Checklist
The financial and benefits experts at AAFMAA can help you prepare financially for deployment and ensure your family is cared for while you’re away from home. Call 888-885-1329 or email [email protected] to speak with our Membership Coordinators and learn more about how AAFMAA can support you through deployment planning. You can also download our Deployment Checklist for more information.