I've got the power....of attorney

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
This is the final part of a three story series highlighting Air Force Legal Assistance Month.

You are about to have a permanent change of station or deploy, but you still have bills to finish paying or things that still need to be taken care of. You can't be there yourself, so you are going to need a trusted friend or family member to help you out.

"Often times when members are preparing to PCS, there's a lot going on, like car sales and the buying or selling of homes," said Capt. Juan Godinez, 35th Fighter Wing Judge Advocate chief of legal assistance. "So it's not uncommon for a spouse to go back state-side beforehand to handle all of those affairs before the family completes the full move."

There are several types of powers of attorney. A general power of attorney allows you to name an agent to handle most of your affairs, such as paying taxes, selling property and dealing with retirement benefit accounts. General powers of attorney are most often given to a spouse or parents to handle things while you are deployed or incapacitated.

Typically to buy a home or enter into any type of bigger contract, it takes two competent adults of the family to make the decision, said Godinez. With the power of attorney, one spouse can give the other spouse full authority to act on his or her behalf, so both spouses don't have to go back state-side.

A special power of attorney is usually only good for a maximum of one year. It is used to give another person authority to do something that you would otherwise be able to do. It often only applies to financial situations or a specific property sale. Even though an attorney-in-fact is appointed, they have no control over any aspect of the principal's life apart from the sector they are charged with.

"What we see more here in the legal office is that a buddy comes in with another buddy and one of them is about to deploy or go on a temporary duty assignment," said Godinez. "He gives his buddy power of attorney to take care of his vehicle to do registration, pay Japan Compulsory Insurance and to basically maintain the vehicle for him and act temporarily as if he is the owner."

You can explicitly state in a power of attorney whatever you would like your friend or family member to do with the vehicle while you are deployed, TDY or about to PCS, said Godinez.

Another type of power of attorney is a health care power of attorney. This type is used for those who are terminally or mentally ill and it gives the attorney-in-fact power over medical decisions, but nothing more. It is similar to a special power of attorney, though it is specifically used for medicinal purposes.

If you decide that you would like to create a power of attorney, complete the form at https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil and take it to your legal office. Powers of attorney are handled on a walk-in basis. For more information contact the Legal Office at 226-4022.