Colorado Springs
Military Estate Planning Attorneys

As a service member, you deserve peace of mind knowing you’ve planned for the future and protected those you’ll someday leave behind. A tailored estate plan is a critical part of providing for your family after you’ve gone. The estate planning attorneys at Peakstone Law Group can help you develop yours at an affordable price.

Our Colorado estate planning firm has decades of experience to offer you, as well as the knowledge and skills you can trust with life’s most important decisions. Don’t leave your family’s future to chance. Instead, let an attorney from our law firm understand your goals, review your situation, and advise you on the best actions to take. 

Contact us today for a free initial case evaluation, and let’s start preparing for the future together. 

Why Is Estate Planning Important for Military Families? 

Estate planning can benefit families from all walks of life, including military families. As a current or former member of the armed forces, you know the importance of duty and responsibility all too well. That’s why you also want to protect and provide for your loved ones after you’re gone, which is where estate planning comes in. 

By preparing the right estate planning documents in advance, you can proactively answer the following questions: 

  • Who will manage your financial and legal affairs and make medical decisions for you if you become disabled or need long-term care?
  • Who will care for your minor children if both you and your partner or spouse have died?
  • What will happen to your property and military benefits when you pass away? 

Basic Components of Estate Planning for Veterans

Veteran estate planning can use various legal tools and structures to implement a servicemember’s goals and wishes. Typical components of estate plans for service members and veterans include:

  • Wills – Service members and veterans can write wills to nominate trusted loved ones or advisors to manage their estates after their deaths. Wills also allow individuals to direct the distribution of their estate assets and to nominate someone to become the legal guardian of their children if both of the children’s parents die. 
  • Advance medical directives and living wills – With an advance medical directive, you can nominate someone to serve as your healthcare proxy if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate healthcare decisions. A living will provides your healthcare proxy and medical providers with instructions and your preferences concerning medical treatment and end-of-life care. 
  • Durable powers of attorney – A durable power of attorney appoints a trusted individual to serve as your attorney-in-fact to manage your legal or financial affairs if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. 
  • Revocable and irrevocable trusts – A service member can set up revocable or irrevocable trusts during their life to manage and protect assets. Revocable trusts allow service members to amend the trust’s terms or terminate the trust. In contrast, irrevocable trusts shift assets out of the service member’s estate, which can protect the assets from creditors or estate taxes. A trust can help your heirs avoid probate court. 
  • Testamentary trusts – A testamentary trust takes effect upon the trust maker’s death. Service members might use testamentary trusts to leave inheritances to their minor children and avoid the need for a conservatorship or guardianship. The trust can provide for a child’s educational expenses or release funds once the child reaches adulthood. 
  • DOD and VA survivor benefits – The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs provide benefits to the survivors of a service member who dies from a service-connected injury or illness. While the government offers some benefits automatically, military families may have to apply for other benefits. 

Limitations of the Military Estate Plan

While servicemembers and veterans can access legal assistance for estate planning through the DOD or VA, military attorneys may have limited experience with complex estate planning needs and goals. For example, a military attorney may have less experience helping service members or veterans with complex financial assets (such as investments or inheritances) or family members with special needs. Military lawyers also may not have the resources to help military families with the very specific tasks of setting up an estate plan, such as retitling assets or opening financial accounts. 

Life Insurance for Military Service Members

Servicemembers in the U.S. Armed Forces can access a low-cost term life insurance policy through the federal government, which oversees Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Certain service members automatically qualify for SGLI coverage and are signed up through their service branch. Servicemembers who qualify for SGLI coverage include:

  • Active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Space Force, or Coast Guard
  • Commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or U.S. Public Health Service
  • Cadets and midshipmen of U.S. military academies
  • Cadets and midshipmen in Reserve Officer Training Corps while engaged in authorized training or practice cruises
  • Members of the Ready Reserve or National Guard assigned to a unit and scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
  • Volunteers in an Individual Ready Reserve mobilization category

Members in non-pay status with the Ready Reserve or National Guard can also qualify for SGLI if they perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year and drill for points rather than pay. 

SGLI provides up to $500,000 in coverage in $50,000 increments, with 120 days of free coverage upon separation from service (or two years if separated due to total disability).

Filling the Gaps of Military Service Member Estate Plans

Many veterans and active service members rely on the benefits and services offered by the DOD or VA to help their families after they’ve passed on. However, there are gaps in what the government programs provide that can be filled in through careful estate planning.

For example, advance care directives allow service members to empower a specific family member to make healthcare, long-term care, and end-of-life care decisions if the service member becomes incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney can put trusted family members in charge of disabled service members’ financial and legal affairs, while beneficiary designations allow service members to direct financial or government benefits to specific individuals. 

Contact a Colorado Springs Military Estate Planning Attorney 

Peakstone Law Group is proud to offer estate planning and other legal services for military personnel in Colorado. We are eager to do what we can to help you protect your and your family’s interests. Contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a military estate planning lawyer to discuss your legal options and learn which tools can help you achieve your goals.