Posted on Oct 9, 2014
MAJ Operations Officer (Opso)
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Last year I was in a "huddle" and they briefed us on our benefits and this website where you can go to show what benefits you and your family can get when you retire with this many years or that. It also shows what benefits your family would get if you died in theater or stateside. Ever since I have tried to give this resource to my Soldiers and others. It then opened up the topic: how do you talk to your loved ones about the future after you die? Many I know only talk about it before deployment, but you never know when you may be in an accident or killed stateside. How did you or how would you recommend starting the conversation and what would you recommend to ensure to include in the topic?
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CSM Director, Market Development
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That is one of those "necessity" conversations. I had a good friend who recently lost their spouse. There were all sorts of issues in the weeks/months that followed. Finding insurance policies, passwords to accounts, etc.....

I recommend putting together a packet (The Army loves packets) with all of the specific information. Make sure they have access to your updated Will, POA, and so on.. (your huddle should have covered all of that).

As far as bringing up the topic, I recommend the Matter of Fact approach. But if you have all of your stuff in order, makes it a lot easier. Death is a part of life. We all have to face it. Let your significant other know that you are having the conversation to make the stress easier on them!
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MSG Wade Huffman
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These discussions, while difficult for many, need to be had, and they need to be revisited at every major life event (marriage, birth of a child, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.) as these events can all have an impact on your own end of life plans.
There is no use to try to sugar coat it... the best way to start is just to simply say "I think we should talk about what will happen when I / you / we die". The discussion should include, at a minimum, life insurance, retirements/pensions/SBP/Social Security, Wills, living wills, medical power of attorney, locations of all important documents, guardianship of minor children, and funeral plans.
By having the discussions, and keeping you end of life planning up to date, you are really doing yourself and your loved ones a huge favor by taking care of many of the questions that come up at a time when we may not be able to objectively process the situation..
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COL Vincent Stoneking
COL Vincent Stoneking
7 y
Also, they need to be had because people simply lose track of decisions that were made in the past.

Example - I know firsthand of cases where someone's SGLI went to the FORMER spouse, rather than the CURRENT because the SGLI hadn't been updated. I never really "got" how someone could allow that to happen. However, I just went on a long ADOS tour, and in going over what of my civilian benefits I wanted to keep or drop, I found out that my FORMER spouse was (is at least until later today/next week) the beneficiary of my insurance, instead of my current spouse of three years.

In an attempt to mitigate it to myself, that decision was made almost 16 years ago and the civilian world doesn't do SRP, birth month audit, etc. However, the fact is that I made that decision at the time for a very specific reason for a certain set of facts (son was roughly 3, wanted to make sure he had the finances for a normal childhood, wasn't sophisticated about trusts/etc, no other people I felt obligated to.). That set of facts changed radically several times over that time period, but I never revisited the arrangements.

Edit: I also found that my former spouse was still the beneficiary of a 20 year old civilian policy. This one was taken out when we were still married and before it started going south. I have quite honestly gotten so used to the money disappearing from my bank automatically that I think of the policy maybe once a year for about 30 seconds.
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
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I think TSgt J.D. Hall is on to something in that it's an inevitable fact. There's no way to sugar coat it. We always approached as being a SMs responsibility and duty to insure their loved one's were taken care of when the time came. Its a difficult and cold topic to discuss but if you add a little touch of humor in like - "See how much I'll be worth to you when I go" - it makes it easier to discuss. My wife and I really started talking about it more when our kids were born as we had to have wills drawn up for their benefit if either or both of us kicked it.
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
7 y
TSgt J.D. Hall, my wife still won't take the 500K$ bounty off my head from my deployment years, she thinks it's bad luck. (for her) :-)
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