Estate Planning for Military Members


By: HeirSearch

Estate planning is sensitive and essential to helping your clients prepare for their futures, especially for military members whose careers pose many unique challenges. Proactive planning ensures that military personnel’s wishes are respected and their families are protected should the worst-case scenario present itself. 

Here, we explore the specific considerations in estate planning for military members and how you, as an estate or trust professional, can help them ensure their families are taken care of. We also delve into the genealogical complexities associated with veterans and highlight how HeirSearch can assist you in efficiently locating missing heirs.

Considerations for Military Member Estate Planning

Due to the unpredictable nature of military service, estate planning for military members necessitates careful and proactive measures. Unlike civilians, military personnel face higher risks to their personal safety and frequent relocations, making a thorough estate plan indispensable. Key components of an estate plan for military members include Living Wills, Trusts, and advanced directives, all of which ensure that their wishes are clear and legally recognized.

Helping your military client establish a Living Trust can be a helpful option. For example, if your client loses their life while on active duty, a pre-established Living Trust would allow them to designate beneficiaries for specific assets without probate—the primary distinction between a Trust and a Will. There is also potential for estate tax savings depending on the value of your client’s assets. An important consideration when establishing a Living Trust is that any assets moved into the Trust become the property of the Trust, not the individual. Therefore, assets like primary residences or checking accounts are better suited for a Will.

A Living Will can also be a consideration for military members, offering a way to articulate their preferences for medical care should they become incapacitated. Given the potential for deployment to dangerous regions, establishing their wishes for medical care through a Living Will or Power of Attorney will minimize additional stress and heartache for their family.

As an estate and trust professional, you should know the military-specific benefits and protections available to your service-member clients. Such benefits include the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which offers legal and financial safeguards to active-duty members, and military funeral benefits, which can save family members thousands of dollars, preserving more assets to be passed down to surviving family members.

Genealogical Considerations for Veterans

Another scenario where understanding the nuances of military service is helpful as an estate and trust professional is identifying heirs who served in the military.

Tracking genealogical information for veterans poses unique challenges due to their frequent relocations, international postings, and variations in military records. Military records often span multiple countries and, in some cases, can involve different languages. These variations make searching for heirs or beneficiaries even more complex. Additionally, the sensitive nature of military activities can mean that certain records are restricted or difficult to access. Estate professionals must approach this sensitively, ensuring that any potentially distressing information is handled properly and communicated appropriately to their clients.

How HeirSearch Approaches Genealogical Research for Veterans

The National Archives offers extensive resources for tracing military genealogy, which can help construct a comprehensive family tree and locate potential heirs. However, even in a straightforward scenario, searching the archives can take time and effort for your clients.

At HeirSearch, our team of forensic genealogists is adept at navigating the complex landscape of genealogical research for veterans. Our multilingual team members have the expertise to identify and locate various types of documentation depending on the veteran’s service history, including relocations and overseas activities. Our experts work closely together, sharing the knowledge gained in one case and applying it to others. We understand the cultural nuances and bureaucratic intricacies involved in different regions. This expertise allows us to conduct thorough and respectful searches into the identifying documents you need to satisfy the courts when establishing an heirship.

Our sensitivity to and knowledge of veterans’ experiences extend beyond active service to include the challenges many veterans face when they return home. In one specific case, our search experts were tasked with locating a Vietnam War veteran who lived on the streets for years after returning home from service.

Serving Those Who Serve Our Country

The decision to serve your country in the military is courageous and not a choice made lightly. As estate and trust professionals, having proactive and upfront conversations with your military clients about providing for their loved ones after they’re gone will save time, money, and unnecessary hardships should they become seriously injured or worse in active duty.

The HeirSearch team’s extensive knowledge of and networks that cover military records can assist you in locating, identifying, and proving records for heirs who served in or are currently deployed in military service. 

Contact us to learn more about our process and how we can support your needs.

Phone: +1 (800)-663-2255


This report is for informational purposes only and is intended only as a reference. HeirSearch does not endorse or recommend any of the products or services offered in the third-party articles or content contained within. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or effectiveness of the same and will not assume any liability related to the same. Additionally, nothing contained herein may be construed as legal advice. All offers are void where prohibited by law. Copyright © International Genealogical Search Inc. All rights reserved.