When you’re in a relationship with someone in the ADF, being apart from your loved one often just becomes the norm. It might be a deployment, course, exercise or you might be living as MWDU. (Member with Dependents Unaccompanied)
Whatever the reason, Defence strongly encourages all ADF members to have a will and to consider whether they need to give somebody power of attorney.
Losing your partner is something that no one wants to think about.
If your partner does die while away with the ADF, it’s important that his or her final instructions are made clear for peace of mind..
If your partner dies without a will, the distribution of assets can become complicated and cause unnecessary stress at an already difficult time.
So, what is a will exactly?
A will is a legal document that gives instructions on the distribution of your assets if you die. You can also include instructions on who is to care for children and or funeral instructions. You can choose for a charity to receive funds from your estate.
It’s important to update your will when you have a change in family circumstances such as marriage, the birth of a child, or a relationship separation.
During Force Preparation, it will be suggested to deploying ADF members that they consider whether their wills need to be updated and also whether a power of attorney would be appropriate. ADF members should contact their local Defence Legal Office for more information about wills and powers of attorney.
Civilian ADF partners who wish to have a will and a power of attorney will need to arrange via a lawyer or a public trustee
It’s estimated that almost 50% of Australians die without a valid will.
ADF Member wills are stored by DCO in Canberra.
DMFS (Prev DCO) Headquarters
PO BOX 7921
Canberra BC ACT 2610
What about a Power of Attorney?
It’s quite common not to have a lot of contact with your partner particularly if they are deployed overseas in an area that is not easily contactable.
Sometimes legal or financial documents need to be signed and can’t wait until the ADF member returns. If you have a power of attorney in place this means that you can sign documents on behalf of the member.
There are different types of power of attorney. An Enduring Power of Attorney is normally very broad and remains in force even after the member has lost mental capacity, whereas a General Power of Attorney can be more narrow in scope and automatically terminates if the member loses mental capacity.
In some states, your partner could put in place a ‘medical power of attorney’ which explains what is to happen should you become unwell and unable to make decisions for yourself. In other states, this kind of document is called an Advance Care Directive, or similar.
It’s hard to talk about now, but in a difficult and emotional time wouldn’t it makes sense to have this part of your life prearranged to prevent any confusion for family and friends?
For more Information:
Protecting Your Assets – The Legal Issues
(video by the ADF Financial Services Consumer Centre)
Deployment Checklist from the ADF Financial Services Consumer Centre
Making a Will as a permanent ADF member doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Members can seek free advice from an ADF Legal Officer.
With thanks to Defence Member and Family Support (previously DCO) and the ADF Financial Consumer Centre.