12 Situations Where You Can Get Free Legal Help
As a service member or eligible member of a military family, you have access to free legal benefits and services through your legal assistance office — for a wide range of circumstances, from reviewing a lease agreement to doing estate planning to getting advice if you get sued.
Matters you can get free legal help on
Specific legal services may vary by installation, but your legal assistance office can generally help with the following:
- Powers of attorney. A power of attorney allows one person to legally act on your behalf on legal and money matters. For example, a power of attorney document can appoint someone to release your household goods shipment if you're leaving before your furniture will ship or bank on your behalf while you are deployed.
- Reviewing leases and rental contracts. A lawyer can review your lease or rental contract before you sign it to be sure the terms are acceptable, and that the agreement includes any military rental protection clauses for your state.
- Living will. With a living will, you can declare what medical treatment or life-sustaining measures you want or don’t want if you become seriously ill or injured.
- Estate planning. Estate planning is an important part of retirement planning and can include:
- Drafting of a will, a legally binding document describing how you want your property and belongings distributed after your death.
- Designating your beneficiaries
- Planning ahead should you become mentally or physically disabled.
- Family care plan. This serves as a blueprint, for military purposes, for how you want your family cared for while you’re deployed. A plan is required for single parents, dual-military couples with children, or if you care for a disabled or elderly family member. Legal assistance offices can review and advise on this matter.
- Notary services. Notaries can administer oaths, witness signatures, take acknowledgements, sworn statements and affidavits, and more.
- Consumer issues. If you're having credit problems, believe you're the victim of a scam or have a dispute over a consumer issue, legal assistance attorneys may help you communicate and negotiate with collection agencies, lawyers or other parties.
- Tax assistance. Many legal assistance offices operate tax centers or provide income tax return preparation to help with filing federal, state or local taxes.
- Family law. Get legal advice for a range of issues, including adoption, child support, marriage, divorce, separation, child custody, alimony, property division, name changes, paternity or legal benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act.
- Service member rights and responsibilities. Legal assistance offices can help you understand the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides specific protections for service members.
- Civil lawsuits. In limited cases, you can get help with the preparation of legal correspondence, documents and pleadings.
- Immigration and naturalization. You can get support and referrals for immigration, citizenship and naturalization matters, including alien registration, re-entry permits, passports, naturalization of a surviving spouse and citizenship of military children born abroad.
Legal matters where you’ll need to look elsewhere
The legal assistance office is restricted from providing help and advice in some circumstances, including the following:
- Providing legal advice to third parties or opposing parties on the same issue
- Claims against the government
- Serious criminal matters
- Citations for driving under the influence
- Legal matters concerning your privately owned business
- In-court representation
While Military OneSource does not offer legal assistance, you can call or visit your legal assistance office to find out more about the services offered at your installation.