Military Power of Attorney and Advanced Directives

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Reese and his military working dog GrekUnder the "learn something new every day" heading, Pet Trust Law Blog reports today on a federal statute providing for a Military Power of Attorney for service personnel.    The statute (US Code Title 10, Section 1044b) providing for Military Powers of Attorney has some interesting provisions:

  • A document will be a "Military Power of Attorney" if it is notarized in any state, or as set forth in US Code Title 10, Section 1044a (dealing with what military personnel have the power to act as notary)
  • A  Military Power of Attorney does not have to meet the format or substance of any State's laws to be deemed valid. So, if the document is a Military Power of Attorney, but it doesn't meet a state's standards (ie: there are no witnesses, or a specific form isn't used) it still needs to be given full force and effect.
  • The document should be specifically identified as a Military Power of Attorney per Section 1044b according to specific language prescribed by regulations (but failure to properly identify it will not make it invalid).
  • If a person is missing in action, the power of attorney will continue in full force and effect during that time.

There are similar provisions for Advanced Medical Directives found in  US Code Title 10, Section 1044c.

And what does this all have to do with pets?  As blogger Dan Meek points out, "A Special Military Power of Attorney for Pets can designate an individual or individuals to care for and maintain your pet (s) during your absence, and authorize any and all medical care necessary, including major surgery and humane disposal, as deemed necessary by the Veterinary Service".

While it is important for every adult to have a Power of Attorney to allow someone else to make financial decisions if they cannot. it is critical for military servicemen and servicewomen.  If I wasn't aware of these special provisions, I am guessing other estate planners might not be as well. The military provides the documents - we planners might consider adding into our talks a 20 second did you know infomercial on Military Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives. 

Photo courtesy of soldiersmediacenter.

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