Leave behind a legacy, not litigation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. William Cordero Jr.
  • 4th Force Support Squadron first sergeant
One of the things that I've noticed lately is the fact that many people do not have a will and testament and even worse they do not know what it is.

While a will and testament is not mandatory, I highly encourage it. You would pay hundreds of dollars getting one drafted downtown if you were a civilian. Two or three hundred dollars is nothing compared to the headaches of the probate process when you do not have one.

Probate is the procedure of settling the estate of a deceased person. The estate of one who has died consists of the property that person owned upon death.

Here is a personal experience with the probate process that went sour because of an invalid will and testament. My ex-wife's grandmother passed away in 2003. Grandma's will and testament consisted of just one piece of paper with a few names and very brief distribution of possessions. The "will" was taken to court for validation and was deemed it invalid. Grandma had almost $300,000 in assets and because the will was not valid, the entire process had to be closely reviewed which took more than a year and a half to complete. After all of the legal fees, her estate had lost more than $80,000.

Keeping your Service Group Life Insurance beneficiary designation up to date is very important. I know of a case in which a military member got divorced and then remarried. He passed away before he updated his SGLI beneficiary. Who do you think got the SGLI insurance proceeds? You're correct -- the ex-wife.

Please take care of yourself and remember that a will and testament is not just for members with dependents; single members should have one too.

The base legal office drafts free will and testaments, power of attorney, contracts and a host of other legal documents to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled in case a tragedy happens.

The legal office has powers of attorney walk in hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and wills and testament walk ins are Thursday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Will appointments are available Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information about base legal services, call (919) 722-5311.