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How to prepare a living will before you deploy overseas

A living will is a health care directive that allows you to name someone to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated. It’s not a topic that usually occurs to a young couple, especially when one of them is getting ready to ship overseas with the military.

But it’s always a good idea to plan ahead, and a living will should be a key part of your plan.

What is a living will?

A living will is a key component of your estate plan. Along with making sure all your military benefits are in order, your insurance is paid up and your last will and testament is in legal order, a living will can give comfort to your spouse or next of kin.

A living will tells doctors and other officials what kind of medical treatment you want and don’t want in case of serious injury or terminal illness. It also specifically states who you designate to make medical decisions in case you are incapacitated.

It is not an actual will but is a legally binding document.

Living wills in Colorado

Under Colorado law, any competent adult can make a living will. It must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses.

No doctor or other health professional will be prosecuted for following your living will directives. Also, if you encounter a doctor or other health professional who is unaware of your living will directive, that person won’t be prosecuted for providing life-saving measures.

State law says living wills can be revoked by you orally, in writing or by burning, tearing, obliterating or destroying the declaration.

Other preparations

There are a number of preparations you should make before you ship overseas. Here’s a quick list of several other things to consider:

  • The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act can help you from problems with your mortgage, credit cards, eviction and can delay civil court actions like bankruptcy or divorce
  • The Servicemen's Group Life Insurance will insure you for a maximum of $250,000
  • Draft or update your will to include all your beneficiaries
  • Prepare joint accounts so your spouse and family have access to funds while you’re overseas
  • Prepare a family care plan that outlines how you want your family members to be cared for in your absence.

A living will is only one of the things you should consider during this important, overwhelming part of your life, but it can be very important. A little effort at the beginning of the process can make a huge difference later.

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