When a deployment is on the horizon, we like to keep it there – just far away enough that we can sit in the bliss of denial. But the reality is that the longer we put it off, the harder it will be.
As your sailor prepares for deployment, there is so much to do. And quite frankly, it’s overwhelming. You’re likely preparing a halfway box, decorating calendar squares and gathering basic essentials they’ll need (i.e. enough deodorant for six months – ha). You’re also preparing yourself and your family emotionally for what lies ahead (don’t forget to take care of yourself).
But in the midst of all of this, you must find time to sit down with your sailor and make sure you have everything covered. From maintaining finances to managing all aspects of your household, you need to make sure you’re prepared.
Here’s 50 questions you should ask yourself and your sailor:
- Will you and your family have money available on a continuous basis while your sailor is gone? You may want to consider establishing an allotment.
- Ensure that you know the address of bank(s) where you have money. You will need to know the types of accounts and account numbers, as well as where bank books (both checking and savings) are kept. Make certain you have access to these accounts and know how to maintain accurate accounts records to be aware of how much money is in each account at any given time.
- Access to bank accounts can be provided by having an account with joint ownership or by executing a Special Power of Attorney.
- Does your family have access to a safe deposit box? Do you know where the key is kept or how to access it?
- Do you know where the credit cards are? Are the account numbers logged and kept in a safe place?
- Do you know how to change an address where an allotment is to be mailed? (PSD)
- Do you know all payments that need to be made and to whom for all of the following:
- Mortgage/Rent f. Insurance (life, property, auto, etc.)
- Telephone g. Taxes
- Water h. Gas/fuel
- Credit card
- Trash collection
- Other debts
- Do you know whom to contact in case you do not receive an allotment on time and need financial assistance? (Family Service Center; Command Ombudsman; PSD; Navy Marine Corps Relief Society)
- What is the status of your finances—do your total outstanding debts (not including house payments, rent, and utilities) amount to more than 3 months take-home pay? Are your monthly credit card payments more than ½ of your monthly take-home pay? If so, you may want to contact the Family Service Center to receive some financial management counseling.
Automobile & Transportation
- If your vehicle is financed, if so do you know the name and address of the lien company?
- Do you know the location of the car title?
- Do you have the vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance paperwork? Are these up-to-date, or will they need to be taken care of while your spouse is away? Do you know how to do this and where to get it taken care of?
- What about a vehicle inspection? Will that need to be taken care of during this time?
- Are you insured to drive? Do they have a valid state driver’s license? When does that license expire?
- Is the vehicle in good working order? Do you know where to go if/when it needs to be repaired? Are you prepared to handle a road emergency? Do you know how to contact AAA?
- Do you have a duplicate set of all car keys?
Legal & Administrative
- Are your family’s identification cards up-to-date and valid until after your spouse returns? Do you know where to obtain new identification cards?
- Has your spouse updated their page two information? This is important as contact numbers and benefits can be determined using the information they provide on the page.
- Does your sailor need to execute a Power of Attorney (POA) so your family can take necessary action on important matters during his or her absence? There are two types of POAs: general and special. A general power of attorney is the most powerful—you give the person you name as your agent the power to handle all business affairs in your name.
- Do you know where the powers of attorney are kept?
- Do you know where birth certificates are kept?
- Do you have a copy of your marriage license? What about adoption papers? Do you know where these documents are kept?
- Do your family members have their social security cards? Do they know where these are kept?
- Do you have copies of your recent tax returns? Are you prepared to handle taxes during your sailor’s absence?
- Do you know where all of insurance policies are kept?
- What about the location of any stocks, bonds, deeds, etc.?
- Do you and your spouse have updated wills?
- Are the executor, trustee, and guardian listed in your will current?
- Has your family situation changed (marriage/divorce/children)?
- Has your financial situation changed?
- Do you have a medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney and a living will? Does your spouse have similar documents up-to-date?
- Does your sailor have any other documents that need to be notarized before he or she leaves, such as a bill of sale or vehicle registration?
- Will taxes—both state and federal—need to be filed while your spouse is away? Have you made arrangements for this to be handled in some manner, by a tax preparation service or otherwise?
- Do you and your spouse have life insurance? Have they updated their SGLI or other insurance policy beneficiaries if your will establishes and SGLI or insurance trust?
- Do you know where all important papers—including original wills—are kept? Are these important papers safeguarded?
- Does your spouse have any legal action, either civil or criminal, pending? Be aware of your rights under the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The SSCRA can “stay” or hold off legal proceedings until your spouse returns from deployment or help him or her to re-open default judgments that were made while they were deployed. For more information, see a Naval Legal Service Office.
- Has your spouse accurately completed a Family Care Certificate?
- Does your spouse have a consent order or agreement with the other biological parent of his or her child/children regarding the child/children’s custody and support during absence? See the Naval Legal Service Office for more information.
- Is your spouse registered to vote? What elections will they miss while they’re away? Know your rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificates for all family members
- Citizenship papers, if any
- Adoption papers, if any
- Passports, if any
- Social security cards for all family members
- Shot records for all family members
- Powers of attorney, if any
- Insurance policies (automobile; life; property) with a list of companies, their addresses and phone numbers with names of agents, policy numbers, and types of insurance coverage
- Vehicle titles and registrations
- List of all members of immediate families with current addresses and phone numbers
- List of all credit cards and account numbers, with customer service contact number for each card
- List of all current stocks and bonds and where certificates are located
- Court orders relating to divorce, child support, custody, alimony or property division, if any
- Real estate documents, including leases, deeds, mortgages and promissory notes, closing papers
- Copies of and sales installment contracts and finance agreements (i.e. for furniture, automobiles, etc)
- List of all bank accounts with types of accounts, accounts numbers, and bank contact information
- Armed Forces ID cards for all family members 10 years of age or older
- Nine (9) copies of military recent military orders—both PCS and TAD
If you have any questions or concerns about any information or topic listed above, please contact your local Naval Legal Service Office (NLSO). They can provide legal advice and assistance on a wide variety of topics, and they can provide will, power of attorney, notary, and tax services quickly. NLSO services are available to all active duty personnel, retirees, and dependents.