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This check list is in two sections: Section A: Covers what needs to happen when the military retiree dies. Section B: Covers what you need to do NOW to have records immediately available upon the death of a military retiree, thus making things as smooth as possible for survivors. Suggest setting up a special file/folder for these items.
SECTION A: DEATH OF A MILITARY RETIREE
______: Notify the Funeral Home (that
you have made arrangements with) of the death, to prepare
the deceased for burial. Note:
if the death occurs outside of a hospital, normally the
remains are taken to the nearest hospital for a medical doctor to certify
the death and determine the cause to meet death certificate and local
_______: Advise Funeral Home if you
desire or not desire that burial will be with full military honors.
Provide them a copy of deceased veteran’s DD-214 form.
Funeral home arranges for this ceremony.
[If a US Marine is in a remote area contact Headquarters Marine
Corps at 1-866-826-3628 to arrange for military honors at a local
request at least 10 copies of the death certificate, which is processed by
the Funeral Home with State agencies.
______: Report death to the Defense
Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) at 1-800-321-1080.
Also request that Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) forms be sent to the
surviving spouse to be completed and submitted to DFAS.
Note: DFAS will remove the last month’s retired pay to the
deceased from his/her bank account normally within 48 hours of this
eight to 12 weeks for these forms be processed and the surviving spouse to
receive their first SBP allotment. The
back SBP pay will be part of the first allotment.
Insure surviving spouse has enough funds available to take care of
required expenses during this processing time.
_______: Notify your Social Security office of death of military
retiree at 1-800-772-1213. Note:
Normally a telephone interview can be set up with a Social Security
counselor to get information they need to process their paperwork. Social Security will request the ORIGINAL wedding license
from the surviving spouse to be sent to them, NO copies. [It should be in
your “Section B” folder.] Social Security Office will send this back
to the surviving spouse after their verification.
The other option is to go to the local Social Security Office with
the marriage license for their validation of marriage.
the local Veterans’ Administration for burial benefits.
This is to include partial payment for deceased burial preparation.
Telephone number is 1-800-827-1000.
In Hawaii call the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
(Punchbowl) to set up time for burial service at 532-3720. For burial in a
Hawaii Veterans Cemetery contact the State Office of Veterans’ Services
at 433-0422. Advise either
office if the burial will be with or without full military honors.
A DD – 214 form on the deceased veteran is required for
burial in a Federal or State Veterans Cemetery.
Notify the deceased
military retiree’s current or recent employer, if any, so
that pension, medical plan, company savings plan, and insurance can be
dealt with properly.
_______: Update your surviving spouse
military identification card at any military installation.
Refer to your MOAA Hawaii Membership Directory for Base phone
If deceased veteran had been receiving Veterans Administration
(VA) benefit payments, contact the VA to have a determination made if
cause of death was service related.
If deemed service related, surviving spouse may be eligible for VA
Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
If DIC is awarded this will be offset by SPB payments in the same
amount, but DIC is non-taxable. Telephone number is 1-800
_______: Notify deceased veteran’s life
insurance policy companies of death.
Processing of death benefits cannot occur until death certificates
have been issued. In Hawaii
this can take up to six weeks. Ensure that the current policies are in your folder or
_______: Notify any local or other
locations’ newspapers of death so an obituary can be printed.
Funeral home will many times assist
in the drafting of an obituary. Honolulu
papers usually require that the obituary come from the funeral home.
Notify any fraternal or professional organizations of the
decease of the veteran so they can publish this information in their
periodical to their membership. DFAS
notifies the deceased veteran’s military service for inclusion in their
“Retired Newsletter” to those service retirees. Your Hawaii MOAA
Assistance Officer will notify the MOAA National magazine, “Military
SECTION B: RECORDS AND
ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN PRIOR TO THE DECEASE OF A VETERAN.
Set up a file. Make sure that your survivors – spouse, children, and
executor – know where it is. Keep
it up to date. What to
The veteran’s DD – 214 form.
Have 10 copies of this form in your files.
NO earned veteran benefits, to include burial etc. can be received
without the agency involved being provided a copy of this form.
Know where this form is located if it’s not in your special file.
that a Will for the veteran (and spouse) has been prepared and is up
to date. Be specific about
your desires for the distribution of assets in the estate.
No Will means that your
estate ends up in the State Court system, even if there is a surviving
spouse. Copies of both Wills
should be in a location that is known by the surviving spouse, children of
the family, and family attorney, if not in your file.
________: Strongly consider having a Revocable
Trust established for the veteran’s (and spouse’s) estate.
In Hawaii, the estate will go into probate, even with a valid Will.
Without the trust, probate can take up to one year to settle and is
expensive. Check local State
laws, for they vary widely in this area.
Prepare and execute an End
of Life Directive (“Living Will”) that clearly states the
veteran’s (and spouse’s) preference relative to life support.
If this document is not available to the doctor or hospital where
the veteran (or his spouse) is being treated and may require life support,
these persons/agencies are required to continue a life support program.
Make copies! If the
patient is discharged, the “Living Will” will be destroyed; you’ll
need another for the next hospitalization.
If no “Living Will” is available the surviving spouse can
normally make the decision to continue or stop the life support process.
Include also the veteran’s (or spouse’s) desire for casket
burial or cremation.
Have a life insurance file readily available with location known by at
least two other people (children) other than surviving spouse.
Include the veteran’s military medical files and any Veterans’
Administration (VA) benefit award correspondence.
Have a financial file readily available with bank accounts, retirement
accounts, stocks/bonds, income tax returns, credit card accounts,
investments, real property documents, etc.
This can include employment information (pension, 401(k) accounts,
medical plans). If these are kept in a safety deposit box, insure at least
two people other than the spouse (children), know the location and number
of the deposit box, as well as where the first key to that safety deposit
box is located. Make a list names and addresses of former employers.
Insure two persons have the home safe combination.
Have a personal file readily available with funeral arrangement
preferences, medical records, contact information on children and other
close relations, personal property inventory and home insurance policies,
and so on. A “letter of
instructions” telling what you want done with your possessions – pets,
furniture, jewelry, art works, military memorabilia – will be useful.
If any of the above financial or other related information/data
resides in the veteran’s (or spouse’s) home computer, insure
that required passwords and PIN numbers (include security codes for credit
cards) are written down or put on a removable computer thumb/flash drive.
Either data storage system has to be stored in a secure location,
with at least two people (children) other than the surviving spouse
knowing this location.
December 2009 / JEH MOAA PAC
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