District 11 Legal Assistance Office
Attorney Belinda Alcantara
USCG District 11 Legal Assistance Office
Coast Guard Island, Bldg. 54A
Alameda, CA 94501-5100
Title 10 U.S. Code § 1044 authorizes the provision of legal assistance to certain specified personnel in connection with their personal civil legal affairs, subject to the availability of legal staff resources.
Legal Assistance may be provided to:
Members of the Armed Forces who are on active duty, Active Duty Reservists on Title 10 U.S.C Code Section 1044.
Members and former members entitled to retired or retainer pay or equivalent pay.
Officers of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service who are on active duty or entitled to retired or equivalent pay.
Dependents of members and former members mentioned above.
Assistance is subject to the availability of legal staff and resources. The statutory authority does not extend to civilian employees or members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary whether acting under official orders or not.
The Legal Assistance Office May Be Provided Primarily as Follows:
ADOPTIONS: Adoption is a two-step judicial process in conformance to state statutory provisions in which the legal obligations and rights of a child toward the biological parents are terminated and new rights and obligations are created between the child and the adoptive parents. The Legal Assistance office can provide advice regarding adoption and change of name may be given together with assistance in preparing the necessary documentation.
DIVORCE: A Divorce is the legal termination of a marriage by a court in a legal proceeding, requiring a petition or complaint for divorce (or dissolution in some states) by one party.
The Legal Assistance office can only assist if the dissolution is uncontested. In addition our office can only provide assistance to one of the parties in the matter; in addition we are limited in our assistance as we cannot appear in court on your behalf.
WILLS AND ESTATE PLANNING: A Will is the legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his death.
The Legal Assistance office provides basic estate planning services, including drafting of wills and basic testamentary trusts and giving SGLI advice. More advanced estate planning such as arranging a client’s affairs to minimize taxation of his or her estate, will normally be offered only by legal assistance attorneys who possess the special competency to do so.
Legal Assistance Will Worksheet
MILITARY TESTAMENTARY INSTRUMENTS (MTI): Federal law provides for the recognition of testamentary instruments by any state or jurisdiction without regard to specific legal requirements as to form, formality or recording imposed by that state or jurisdiction when the instrument is prepared pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 1044d and executed by a person authorized to receive legal assistance.
ADVANCED MEDICAL DIRECTIVE (AMD) or "Living Wills": An Advanced Medical Directive (AMD/Living Will) is a legal document in which an individual designates another person to make health care decisions if he or she is rendered incapable of making their wishes known. A Legal Assistance attorney may prepare AMDs when requested by a client. AMDs may be prepared using existing state law provisions or as a Military Advance Medical Directive.
POWER OF ATTORNEY: A Power of Attorney is a legal document that you create. It gives another person the legal authority to act on your behalf. You can give your agent broad or general powers. We also assist with Military Powers of Attorney.
Power of Attorney Application
SERVICEMEMBER CIVIL RELIEF ACT (SCRA): The SCRA provides a wide range of protections for individuals entering, deployed, or called to active duty in the military. The SCRA is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty and relieve stress on the family members of those deployed servicemembers. The SCRA covers such matters such as:
Credit Protection: Prohibits adverse credit actions when exercising SCRA rights.
Eviction: If rent for your dwelling (in 2004) is $2,465 or less, court could stay eviction up to 3 months, and a court order is required to evict.
6% Interest Rate: May give you a 6% maximum interest rate on certain PRE-active duty debts, if you follow strict statutory steps. Interest in excess of 6% is forgiven, not postponed.
Terminating Leases: You may be able to terminate a lease for your home, business, or motor vehicle signed before or after starting AD. If you are terminating a lease of any type, talk with a Legal Assistance Attorney as soon as possible regarding termination. Know your new SCRA rights for all future leases.
STAYS: The SCRA provides for automatic stay of at least 90 days upon proper request from servicemember in administrative and civil matters. See a Legal Assistance Attorney for the strict statutory requirements before requesting any stay.
DOMICILE AND RESIDENCY: The Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act protects active duty military pay from being taxed by any state other than the service member’s state of domicile. In addition to income tax issues, there are numerous other issues related to one's state of legal domicile, to include voting, vehicle registration and jury duty.
MILITARY SPOUSE RESIDENCY RELIEF ACT (MSRRA): Among other rights, allows military spouses to keep residency in their home state if their servicemember spouse receives PCS orders outside of their domiciled states.
TAXES: General advice and assistance may be given in the area of federal, state and local taxes. Tax forms may be made available for filing returns, and clients may be assisted in preparing appropriate forms.
JURY DUTY: If a servicemember is called to Jury Duty in the state of California but is not domiciled in California they may be exempted from Jury Duty.
LANDLORD/TENANT: Refund of Security Deposits in California: A landlord may not demand or receive a security deposit, in excess of two months’ rent for unfurnished residential property or an amount in excess of three months’ rent for furnished residential property, in addition to any rent for the first month paid on or before initial occupancy. The security deposit may be applied to unpaid rent and damages beyond normal wear and tear.
MOTOR VEHICLE LAWS AND REGISTRATION
50 States Driver's License Laws: Each state has a different law regarding expiration of an active duty Servicemember's driver's license. The member must know what his or her state of legal domicile says regarding the driver's license. When assigned outside the state of legal domicile, civilian spouses of active duty service members must rely on the state laws of the member's state of duty assignment regarding the validity of their out of state driver's license.
Vehicle Registration and Driving in California: When registering your vehicle, your state of legal domicile is an important concept, as distinguished from state of residence, which is merely the state where you are physically present or the state in which you are stationed. The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) governs where the servicemember must pay any "ad valorem" property taxes when registering a vehicle. The SSCRA can provide significant advantages and tax savings when members are assigned in a state that is not their legal domicile. MLCP provides a fact sheet regarding federal and California State motor vehicle laws affecting members assigned in California. Under a recent California law, spouses are afforded the same advantages as the member on Active Duty (AD) when registering a vehicle.
Non-Resident Vehicle Registration Form
NOTARY PUBLIC Civil Notaries: Many legal offices have staff members qualified and commissioned as notaries within their local jurisdictions. The services provided are within the limits of the commission under the rules and regulations for the jurisdiction. No fees may be charged for these services.
REAL PROPERTY: Any property that is attached directly to land, as well as the land itself. Real property not only includes buildings and other structures, but also rights and interests. Real property can be either rental or aassistance in this area may take the form of specific advice and review and/or preparation of documents, including leases, purchase and sale agreements, and deeds for personal residences.
CIVIL SUITS: Civil law is a body of law that determines private rights and liabilities, as distinguished from criminal law. Civil cases usually involve private disputes between persons or organizations. A civil lawsuit is a lawsuit based on non-criminal statutes, such as disputes involving accidents or contracts. Civil suits typically seek to recover money damages or allow/disallow certain acts, rather than to imprison or punish a person. General advice may be given in civil suit matters. Cases requiring in-court representation will normally be referred to private civilian counsel (except for those cases suitable for the Extended Legal Assistance Program (ELAP)). Extensive advice on small claims court procedures may be given and assistance may be provided in preparing documents and correspondence.
CRIMINAL MATTERS: No Representation Will Be Provided For Any State Of Federal Criminal Proceedings Including Any Military Criminal Justice Matter Under The UCMJ And Cases Before A Federal Magistrate's Court.
DOMESTIC RELATIONS: The Legal Assistance office may be provided in marriage, annulment, legal separation, divorce, financial nonsupport, child custody and visitation, and paternity cases to the extent qualified legal assistance resources are available. Representation of both parties in domestic relations cases by attorneys from the same legal office is prohibited since representation would result in a conflict.
How to Request Legal Assistance
Persons within the Eleventh Coast Guard District may schedule legal assistance appointments by calling their closest geographic provider. The following is a list of Legal Assistance Offices:
· TRAVIS AFB Travis, CA (707) 424-3251
· BEALE AFB Sacramento, CA (530) 634-2928
· Camp Pendleton Camp Pendleton (760) 725-6172
· Tracen Petaluma Petaluma, CA (707) 765-7237
· NAVSTA San Diego San Diego, CA (619) 556-2211
· Los Angeles, AFB El Segundo, CA (310) 363-6460
· Presidio of Monterey Monterey, CA (831) 242-5083