I can’t tell you how many times I have called a company to deal with my husband’s bills or handle something, and I get, “We can’t discuss that with you!” Sound familiar?
I handle everything in my household – EVERYTHING. So that was a big issue for me. Even if you don’t handle everything, there may come a day when your spouse is deployed or gone and you will need to manage things.
This is why you must make getting a Power of Attorney a TOP priority.
I will give you 5 reasons this is so important and how it can help your family.
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Power of Attorney - In Simple Terms
So what is a Power of Attorney?
It is a legal document that allows you to act on behalf of another person. Both people are present when you apply for one, and you need a witness to sign as well.
Your base should have resources to have this done in under an hour (as well as witness for you). Ours was done at our PSD office. However, you can download a PDF copy of one here.
There are TWO kinds – General and Special.
A general POA allows you to do most things. However, some companies or banks want it spelled out. This is where a special POA comes into play. I have both.
A special POA spells out EXACTLY what can or cannot be done. The person may wish that you can handle their bills, but not withdraw money or take out loans. This gives you some access, but not all.
How much access you have all depends on the person granting the access – which is a serious conversation you should have. Here is some more in depth information to read up on should you want too.
Below are 5 reasons, or areas, on why you need one.
1. Mortgage or Rental Agreements
My situation is unique. Our mortgage is only in my husband’s name, so they would never talk to me without his authorization. When Hurricane Irma hit and we had damage, they would not speak to me about the insurance claims (which I am co-listed on).
When you get a specific POA, ensure that you can handle mortgage or rental agreements. This means you can dispute and/or verify payments, claims, interest, property taxes, escrow, etc.
If you are in a rental, you may need to deal with the property management team if you are not listed on the lease (which can occur for engaged couples, those dating, even Newlyweds).
One of the biggest reasons – your spouse has to transfer, but you do not have a buyer yet on your house. Well to keep your spouse from traveling back and forth for closings and such – you can add real estate transactions.
My husband and I have been together for 11 years. He trusts me implicitly. He knows that my goals are for financial freedom, retirement, college tuition for our girls – basically, I am not going to frivolously spend all his money when he away.
If you and your significant other have the same goals, you may want to consider adding banking to your POA. I can take loans (which I hate, but can do) for let’s say a new vehicle if I had too, or repairs on our house that aren’t covered by insurance, etc.
I was even able to lower my husband’s interest rate on his credit card.
Is your spouse deployed for the birth of your child? I hope not, but in the unfortunate case that he/she is, you will need to register your child in DEERS. Having this listed on your POA will help you add or enroll dependents as well Tricare.
4. Household Goods and Vehicles
One of worst things about moving is . . . well moving. When you have to PCS without your spouse, you need to be able to deal with shipping and receiving your stuff (including your vehicles). You may also need to be the person to deal with claims on damaged or missing items to ensure you receive reimbursement. Read the article on why I stalk my movers here.
Side note – To ship a vehicle, you must provide a VIN number and a location on your POA – to ship goods, they can put to any location.
Moving soon? Grab your PCS guides here.
5. Military Housing
Unlike buying a house where you need attorneys and banks, military housing/quarters typically deals with the member. Regardless if you are on the lease or not, they will want to speak with the member to accept and pay monthly allotments. In order to accept or decline, sign for housing, and possess the unit, I would include this. It also allows you to speak with them about monthly allotments.
At many locations, housing is mandatory or requires a waiver to decline housing. This is where this will be necessary if your significant other is deployed.
Power of Attorneys are important for military spouses as well as civilians. There are specific types for whatever sector you are in – this covering military POAs specifically.
Be sure to call all of the places you do business with before your spouse deploys to ensure they will accept your POA and that they do not have one of their own.
I recommend sitting down and discussing how and in what ways you can be more involved.
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About the Author
Kelsey Ramirez is a Real Estate Broker in western Washington. She is also a veteran elementary school teacher, military wife, and mom to two daughters. She is the founder of The Military Move, a military-based website to help families in the PCS process. Kelsey loves to travel, write, and create amazing content. She has her Masters in Technology, which she uses to learn all new things digital.
With three decades of military support, Kelsey’s mission is to help new and existing military families in their unique adventures through all military topics including PCSing, budgeting, school choice and rights, housing, and especially just being a military spouse.