Navy lawyers who are members of the Navy Judge
Advocate Generals Corps.
This assistance is
available to give you advice in connection with any
personal legal problem you might have. Navy
lawyers, however, cannot normally represent you in
More than 200 Navy legal assistance offices are
located at commands throughout the world and
aboard large naval vessels. We cannot overemphasize
the importance of taking advantage of this service and
consulting a Navy lawyer before you make major
decisions that have legal implications. For example,
whenever you transfer, you may unintentionally
change your domicile or permanent legal home. This
change might affect your property ownership or
subject you to new state tax liabilities, automobile
registration, and drivers license laws. It also may
affect distribution of your property if you die intestate
(without a will) or place some control over what you
may put in your will (in some states you cannot
omit your spouse). To avoid these problems, you
should make it a point to periodically discuss your
personal, legal, and financial affairs with your Navy
POWER OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney is the formal written
appointment of another person to act as your agent. It
can be for a specific purpose (called a limited or
special power of attorney), or it can be for the general
transaction of your affairs (called a general power of
attorney). Even though your agent is limited to the
powers specifically written down in the document,
you should give a power of attorney only with caution
and only where absolutely necessary. For instance, if
you are in the process of buying or selling a house or
car, you may want to leave a special power of attorney
limited only to that purpose.
In years past, leaving a power of attorney with a
friend or relative to take care of contingencies that
might arise while a service member was deployed was
Today, because of
improvements in communications and the wide
availability of Navy lawyers, we do not recommend
executing a power of attorney without a specific
reason. If your spouse must cash checks made out to
you, you can usually arrange to have the checks
deposited in a joint bank account or make prior
arrangements with the bank.
requiring your signature while you are away from
home can be sent to you to sign. Legal officers are
available to act as notary publics if the document
needs notarization. Few unforeseen emergency
situations will require your signature in less time than
that needed for someone to mail a document to you to
read, sign, and return.
In any event, before you give anyone a power of
attorney, be sure to consult a legal assistance officer.
You should be aware of all the legal effects of what
you are doing so that the document can be specially
tailored to fit your individual needs.
Do not assume that if you are young or do not
have much property, you should not make a will. The
property of a person who dies without a will is
distributed according to state laws. In effect, the state
writes your will. By preparing a will, you have the
opportunity to dispose of your property and to take
care of your family the way you want.
Even though a will may look simple, it is not a
do-it-yourself document. Many factors affect the way
a will must be written to pass property exactly as you
want it. A lawyer is trained to recognize these factors.
A will should always be drafted to meet the particular
needs of each person. NEVER use blank or fill-in
will forms. Consult a legal assistance officer about
preparing a will that will be best for you.
YOUR MAILING ADDRESS
You will move around quite a bit during your
naval career. You may be aboard ships that spend
weeks at sea. Your mail will have enough necessary
delays without you making things worse by
inaccurate or delayed changes of address. You are
responsible for sending your correct mailing address
to correspondents, publishers of magazines, insurance
companies (regardless of whether premiums are paid
by allotment), and anyone with whom you have
business dealings. The post office has Notice of
Change of Address cards specifically for this purpose.
As soon as you receive your orders, start notifying
people of your new address. Notify your new duty
station so that mail arriving there is held for you.
After detachment, keep the old station informed of
your address so that mail arriving after you have gone
may be readdressed and forwarded.
Naval ships have unique postal ZIP Codes
addressed through a fleet post office (FPO) identified
by such codes as AE and AP. You can find out the