A Military Spouse’s Best Friend
Sometimes the military feels like a revolving door with new friends coming and going and old ones reappearing along the way. All the challenges of military life are also opportunities to expand the friend list and I’m not just talking about the social media kind.
I’ve got acquaintances I’ve known from three different duty stations and socialize with politely when we run into one another at command events. There are people I network with who I’ve met at various volunteer jobs, schools, churches and parties. Neighbors, especially in base housing, become fast friends when it comes to borrowing an ingredient or dog-sitting. Then there are the friends who are always up for a mid-deployment mom’s night out or whom I’d leave my children with at midnight on my way to the ER.
But I think this military spouse’s very best friend might be her power of attorney. That handy dandy instrument is renewable, specialized, general, good for a year and handy for doing everything from opening a bank account to buying a house to selling his truck. I also grant a power of attorney on an ongoing basis – to a local friend to immediately take care of my children should anything happen to me in my husband’s absence and to a relative to do so long term if necessary.
My husband used to authorize me to act on his behalf every time he deployed. The past few years though, he’s been gone more than he is here, so part of our pre-trip planning is checking the expiration date of the POA in the safe.
This week, my spouse came home with four different powers of attorney. The all-purpose general needed renewing and during one of his upcoming trips I’m going to buy a house, stop the base housing allotment and leave our daughter in the care of a friend. His friendly command legal officer wrote them up and notarized them for free.
There are two kinds of power of attorney: general and special. According to the Navy Legal Service website, the general provides a designee with all the power you possess to act with respect to any matter. If that’s too much power or a bank or organization requires specific authorization, there are several kinds of special powers of attorney available too. Those include selling, registering, shipping or transferring title on a vehicle; in loco parentis or medical power of attorney; check cashing; selling, buying or managing real estate; and shipping or receiving household goods.
Military families in Hampton Roads can visit their closest legal office, located at all local bases, with their ID for a power of attorney. One of the hardest parts of being a military spouse is doing so much alone, but at least a power of attorney authorizes those left behind to manage the household and legal issues effectively.
Michelle Galvez is a Navy wife, mother of three, graduate student and government contractor who writes in spare time. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.