If you need to write your will, are considering signing a lease, or need a power of attorney or notarized signature; then you need legal assistance, and best of all, military family members have access to legal assistance - absolutely free!
Military Lawyers are called Judge advocates (JAGs). JAGs can offer help in legal and non-legal matters ranging from purchasing a car to renting an apartment, buying a home, paying taxes or writing a will. A "judge advocate" is an attorney who has graduated from an accredited law school, and is licensed to practice law by the highest court of a state or by a federal court. Judge advocates assigned to assist individuals with personal legal problems are known as legal assistance attorneys.
Legal assistance offices are located on almost every base, ship and installation. If you have trouble locating legal assistance, you can search the Legal Assistance Office Locator to find the office nearest your location.
Generally, the military services offer limited legal assistance to Guard and Reserve members during inactive duty training periods to prepare legal documents such as wills and powers of attorney needed in the event of an involuntary call to active duty. Each military service has specific regulations regarding the extent of legal assistance they provide. For further information, contact your legal assistance office.
If a legal assistance attorney is unable to resolve the case or a specialized attorney is needed, the legal assistance attorney will refer you to a civilian attorney, normally through a local lawyer referral service, who can handle the case.
Legal assistance offices can help with the following:
- Serving as advocate and counsel for an eligible client
- Preparing and signing correspondence on behalf of an eligible client
- Negotiating with another party or that party's attorney
- Preparing legal documents, as permitted by the JAGMAN
- When necessary, referring eligible persons to a civilian lawyer
- Drafting powers of attorney
- Drafting wills
- Estate planning advice
- Reviewing contracts and leases (ideally, before you sign)
- Providing notarizations
- Personal finance advice
- Family and domestic relations advice (divorce, separation, family seaport, adoption, custody, paternity and name changes)
- Consumer affairs
- Tax advice on real and personal property and income (and in certain locations tax preparation and electronic filing (ELF))
- Answering questions about landlord-tenant issues (including leases, security deposits and evictions)
- Providing advice on immigration and naturalization issues
Legal assistance attorneys hold all conversations and dealings with clients in strict confidence, as required by rules of professional responsibility.
Military legal assistance offices are located on almost every base, ship and installation. If you need legal assistance you can call or drop in to your local Legal Assistance Office. Visit the Legal Assistance Office Locator to find the office nearest your location.