A military power of attorney (POA) form lets a service member (the “principal”) delegate another individual (the “agent”) to handle their affairs if they are unable to. It’s legally binding and gives one person the authority to act on the service member’s behalf to manage legal or financial activities.
If you’re married, you and your spouse can designate agent authorities to one another before you leave for a deployment.
When to Use
- When serving in places with limited access to technology or the internet
- When serving in potentially risky situations in which you may become incapacitated
- Before leaving on deployments or specific operations
- When you know you’ll need to pay bills, file state income tax returns, or handle banking or insurance processes
- When you know you’ll need to sign any important papers but will not be able to sign via electronic communications or in-person
Powers of Attorney That Benefit Military Members
Different types of POAs benefit military members experiencing different situations. Learn about general, limited, durable, and springing powers of attorney and their use cases.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is an all-encompassing legal document that grants the agent the ability to take broad actions on behalf of the service member appointing them, called the “grantor.” A military member’s agent might be able to access family finances while the service member is deployed if the document has no restrictions.
Limited Power of Attorney
A limited power of attorney doesn’t have the same legal effect as a general POA. It specifies the transactions an agent can handle on the grantor’s behalf. This scope often limits the agent to one specific business project, like selling a particular asset or handling one bank account.
Within a limited or special power of attorney document, a service member may specify that an agent can complete the following actions on their behalf:
- Pay taxes
- Receive tax refunds
- Receive government housing (which can allow the military member’s spouse and children to move in while they’re deployed)
If you want to designate an individual to handle your IRS tax-related matters, consider using the IRS Form 2848 instead.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney regularly takes effect once the grantor and agent sign it. It lasts until a specified date or circumstance detailed within the document unless a party revokes it or either the grantor or the agent passes away.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney only comes into effect when a specific circumstance detailed within the document occurs. Usually, it comes into effect specifically when the grantor becomes incapacitated. It may also come into effect when:
- A military member’s child is born. This way, the agent can enroll them in TRICARE Prime through DEERS.
- A military member’s spouse needs to apply for emergency assistance.
How to Get a Military POA
If you’re a service member seeking a military-designated authority, you can research and plan thoroughly before completing the necessary form.
Step 1 – Understand the Legal Requirements
First, get a lawyer to help you understand what needs to be included in your document to protect yourself and set clear instructions for your agent. The military offers free legal services to military members, so find and contact your nearest military legal assistance office for an appointment to get started on creating a proper military POA.
Step 2 – Gather Documentation
Check with your bank, insurance company, lawyer, and other institutions to see which documentation is necessary for them to accept a POA on your behalf. Many different institutions have their own requirements.
Gather and organize relevant records and information that your agent will need to make informed decisions on your behalf. Doing so upfront avoids confusion and will empower your agent to make the best decisions possible.
Step 3 – Choose a Trusted Person
Find a trustworthy person in your life to choose as your designated agent. Check their track record for handling their own finances or legal decisions. Choosing someone with deep experience in the field in which they’ll be making decisions, such as banking or accounting, may help give you peace of mind while you’re away serving in your position.
Step 4 – Establish the Terms and Conditions
Consider which powers you want or need to give to the agent. Have thorough meetings with the agent and your lawyer before the document goes into effect to make final decisions on the document’s parameters. Make sure both parties understand their rights and responsibilities, and outline the start and end dates and the assigned powers in a detailed manner.
Step 5 – Complete the Form
Lastly, you must complete the necessary form for a military POA. As mentioned, different institutions may require different versions of the form, but starting with a military power of attorney form template can help you collect and fill out the information that is generally required.
Legal Considerations for Notarization
You do not need to get this document notarized per your state’s specifications, according to the U.S. Code, Tit. 10, Sec. 1044b. Instead, federal law exempts a military POA from all state requirements pertaining to form, substance, formality, and recording.
In other words, federal law specifies your military proxy is valid as long as the document is notarized per federal law.
How to Write a Military Power of Attorney
Step 1 – Include Your and Your Agent’s Information
Collect and record the names, addresses, and contact information of all parties involved.
Step 2 – Grant Authority According to Your Wishes
Consider the specific tasks and decisions you will need the agent to complete on your behalf. Grant the degree and types of authority most applicable to your situation. A general proxy allows the agent to make basic transactions on your behalf, but more specific POAs can grant them more authority in one area or regarding a specific project or sale.
Step 3 – Provide Special Instructions
As specificity and clarity are a grantor’s greatest safeguard against confusion and abuse of power from their agent in important matters, writing special instructions will protect you further.
Step 4 – Note the Effective Date
Decide on a date or circumstance to mark the start and end of the agent’s powers.
Step 5 – Specify Durable vs. Non-Durable
The decision between a durable or non-durable document rests on whether you, as the grantor, want the agent to make financial and legal decisions if you become incapacitated due to injury or illness. Consider this decision carefully, and spell out your wishes.
Step 6 – Nominate a Guardian
If you have children, may become a parent while serving, or have incapacitated adult children, you can nominate a temporary guardian within your document or a guardian in case you become incapacitated. You may also nominate a guardian for your estate or yourself if you require one.
Step 7 – Sign the Document
Both you and your agent should sign the document once you agree on all stipulations.
Step 8 – Get the Document Notarized
To get a document notarized, you must appear before a state-commissioned notary who will ensure no errors exist. You must prove your identity through official forms like a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, or other form. Many areas now offer online as well as in-person notary services.
Military Power of Attorney Sample
Download our military power of attorney form in PDF or Word format below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a lawyer to create a military power of attorney?
While you don’t have to have a lawyer to create this document, conferring with a lawyer can be helpful due to its powerful nature. Service members can receive legal assistance from military offices on nearly every base or ship. Contact or visit your nearest office for free legal aid regarding these documents.
Why should I have a power of attorney as a military service member?
If you’re away from home for training, deployment, or other military requirements, this document ensures that someone will handle your financial and legal responsibilities when you can’t tend to them yourself.
Suppose you’re serving in a potentially dangerous situation. In that case, you won’t have to think about who will be in charge of your legal and financial affairs in case you become incapacitated if you plan with a durable POA.
How much does it cost to get military power of attorney prepared?
The military offers free legal services for preparing and implementing power of attorney forms.
When does a military power of attorney expire?
It expires when a specific circumstance occurs as the document lays out, on a set expiration date, or when either party revokes the agreement or dies.
Can I terminate a military POA?
If you’re the grantor, you can terminate it anytime. If you’re a loved one of the grantor but not the agent, you can legally challenge this document if you reasonably believe the agent has abused their power. However, this process can be lengthy and difficult to pursue.