Sorting out the Paperwork
The serving member of your family being away may affect your family’s financial affairs. You need to be confident that everything is set up correctly and that you will be able to continue making any regular payments, such as mortgages, loans or insurance policies. RAF pay and allowances are covered in more detail later on.
Once the serving person leaves, you may be responsible for all of the household finances, including sorting out any problems that may arise. The following tips may help you to avoid any difficulties:
- Talk over a budget with your serving partner prior to deployment. Consider agreeing a realistic amount for spending whilst away, and budget for their cheques cashed in theatre to come out of the account.
- If you have separate bank accounts ensure that you both have access to whatever funds you may require and that funds are available in case of an emergency.
- It may be that the only means the serving person has to get cash whilst deployed is by cashing UK cheques. Make sure they have plenty of cheques to last the deployment and be aware that they may take a long time to come out of the account.
- Consider making bill payments by direct debit or standing order from your bank account.
- Discuss where you might be able to save money whilst your partner is away (e.g. cancelling/reducing the package from your satellite TV provider, their gym membership, subscriptions etc) but be realistic about the additional cost of entertaining children as a lone parent.
- Consider asking the person going away to authorise you to deal with all the finances and insurances they may have in their sole name. Check what the companies concerned will need to make this arrangement.
- Take time to think about reviewing regular savings. The deployment may be an opportunity to save. There are many tax-efficient options available, and numerous ways of making the most of your money. Consider consulting an Independent Financial Advisor.
- Consider consulting, for example, Money Made Clear the Financial Services (FSA) website for information on the best rates available www.moneyfacts.co.uk. Most national newspapers will also feature articles on financial matters.
Ensure you know the whereabouts of all the key documents you may need whilst the serving member of your family is away, a checklist is at the end of this section.
Wills and InsuranceThose deploying are strongly advised to draw up a Will with a solicitor prior to deployment. In addition there will normally be a pre-deployment briefing where your unit will discuss what will happen when your partner is away which may cover the following:
- Every adult should have a Will detailing their specific wishes in the event of their death, this is especially important when embarking on a deployment.
- Wills can be lodged with a solicitor, with a bank, at home or with a relative. Military personnel also can make a simple Will by completing a MOD Form 106. This can be lodged at the MOD Document Holding Centre in Glasgow. Consult a solicitor if you feel that your current arrangements are not adequate. This is particularly important if you own property or other valuable assets or have special wishes that you want noted formally. It is also worth discussing what your partner might want you to do if they are seriously wounded or killed in action - if you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner might want to formalise these wishes in their Will.
- If you are buying property you may suggest to the solicitor who is working on your behalf to produce a Will at the same time.
- If you have recently married, formed a civil partnership, divorced or undergone a dissolution or your personal or family circumstances have changed you should consider updating your existing Will to reflect the changed situation.
- You and your partner are encouraged to review your family's personal insurance needs. Whilst it remains MOD policy not to sponsor any commercial organisation, you and your partner should consider joining the Services Life Insurance or PAX insurance schemes, which offer accident cover and life cover options and can be taken out for the duration of the tour and are especially designed to take account of the unique needs of Armed Forces service. Further details are given. Decisions about selecting financial insurance services or products are a personal responsibility and if appropriate you should seek advice from a qualified financial advisor.
- All Service personnel should consider joining the RAF Dependants' Fund for the duration of their service.
- Power of Attorney
- You and your partner may wish to consider a Power of Attorney which is a legal document authorising you to act on behalf of your serving partner in some circumstances. In England and Wales the most common types are Ordinary or Lasting Power of Attorney which can be drawn up by a solicitor and may be revoked on your serving person’s return.
- Those unmarried fathers remaining behind who are either step-parents or partners with responsibility for children (if they haven’t registered as the father on the birth certificate of the child) should consider getting parental responsibility. This provides formal legal recognition of their status when dealing with authorities over children issues such as schooling and health matters.
- If renting a private property and the tenancy is in the name of the deploying person, ensure that this will not cause any difficulties with the landlord before deployment. Those who own property registered only in the name of the deploying person may wish to seek legal advice to ensure that there will be no complications whilst the owner of the property is deployed.
- Think about the documents you may need access to. The following check list may be of help:
- Birth Certificates.
- National Insurance Numbers.
- Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate.
- Insurance policies including house, contents, life health, pets and critical illness.
- Car Insurance policy and certificate (and how to claim).
- Car Registration Document.
- Car MOT Certificate.
- Bank Statements.
- Guarantees for domestic appliances.
- TV Licence.
- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - if travelling within the EC.
- Savings Accounts books and the details of other investments including TESSA, PEPs, ISA shares and unit trusts.
- Make sure your families passports and any visas required are up to date and valid.
- Don’t forget you may need passwords for Internet or online banking accounts.
The CarIf the car is not being used
- Your serving partner should complete a SORN declaration (available from the Post Office). This should mean that you do not have to pay Road Tax for the period of their deployment. You can also do this by phone, by contacting DVLA on 0870 240 0010.
The car should be parked off the road.
- Change the car insurance to ‘Laid Up’ cover for the period that the car will not be driven. This often means paying full insurance for the duration but claiming back 50% of the premiums at the end of the laid up period. Do check that your partner will be able to drive the car during R&R.
- Arrange for the car to be started and the engine allowed to turn over regularly.
Make sure that:
- The car is fit for driving before your serving partner goes away, eg: water /coolant/ spare blankets and torch in the boot in case of breakdowns.
- The car is serviced at the correct intervals and MOT’d on or before the due date.
- The car tax and insurance are renewed when they are due.
- You know where the spare key is.
- You keep details of who to contact in an emergency in the car.
- You consider joining a reputable breakdown, repair and recovery organisation for additional peace of mind.