Power of Attorney

Defense Finance
and Accounting Service
Providing payment services of the U.S. Department of Defense

Powers of Attorney and Guardianships

As they become older, many retirees and annuitants choose to have a loved one handle their account. The two ways to do this are to appoint a Power of Attorney (POA), or in severe cases, have a court appoint a guardian or trustee.

Power of Attorney

A POA can be useful for retirees and annuitants who are having trouble managing their accounts. However, it’s important to know what a POA can and can’t do.

Many states let a POA handle another person’s finances regardless of that person’s competency. These state laws often conflict with federal laws. Military retirement and annuities fall under federal law, which takes priority over state law. A POA cannot make pay related changes for a retiree or annuitant. They can help with non-pay related issues. These include: We can’t legally help a POA with any of the above requests without a copy of the POA document. To make sure your POA doesn’t run in to any roadblocks, you should provide us with a copy as soon as possible.

Guardian or Trustee

If you need a loved one to make all of the above changes as well as pay-related changes to your account, you will need to have a court-appointed guardian or trustee established. The courts will appoint a guardian or trustee if you are deemed incompetent and unable to manage your own finances.

Before we can legally make changes requested by a guardian or trustee, we need a certified copy of your court order. It must include:

  • the seal of the court
  • and the name of the appointed trustee.

If an annuitant receiving Survivor Benefit Plan payments is incapable of handling their financial affairs, and the next of kin does not want to go through the courts, they can complete a Representative Payee Application.  In addition to the application, a statement from a physician must be enclosed detailing the annuitant's incapacity.

As with a POA, you or your guardian should send us a copy of the court order or your Representative Payee Application as soon as possible. This will ensure that we are able to help your guardian or trustee without any delay.

Please note that the retiree/annuitant has to handle all of his or her affairs until we receive either a court order for guardianship, or a certification from a physician stating that the retiree/annuitant is no longer competent to handle their own affairs.

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Page updated March 31, 2015.