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What survivors should know; A veteran/retiree checklist

This checklist is designed to provide Veterans/retirees and their loved ones with some help in preparing for the future. The checklist is not all-inclusive and should be used with other estate planning tools.

1. Create a military file.

• Retirement orders

• DD 214

• Separation papers

• Medical records

2. Create a military retired pay file.

• Claim number of any pending VA claims

• Address of the VA office being used

• List of current deductions from benefits

• Name, relationship and address of beneficiary of unpaid retired pay at the time of death

Address and phone number for DFAS: Defense Finance and Accounting Service, U S Military Retirement Pay, Post Office Box 7130, London, KY 40742 7130 (800) 321-1080 option #3 (for deceased members).

3. Create an annuities file, to include:

• Information about the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).

• Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)

• Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP)

• Civil Service annuity

Note: (Additional information regarding SBP annuity claims can be obtained from the DFAS-Cleveland Center office at 1-800-321-1080.)

4. Create a personal document file.

• Marriage Records

• Divorce decree

• Adoptions and naturalization papers

5. Create an income tax file.

• Copies of state and federal income tax returns

6. Create a property tax file.

• Copies of tax bills

• Deeds and any other related information.

7. Create an insurance policy file.

• Life Insurance

• Property, accident, liability insurance

• Hospitalization/Medical Insurance

8. Maintain a listing of banking and credit information, in a secure location.

• Bank account numbers

• Location of all deposit boxes

• Savings bond information

• Stocks, bonds and any securities owned

• Credit card account numbers and mailing addresses

• 401K Accounts

9. Maintain a membership listing of all associations and organizations.

• Organization names and phone numbers

• Membership fee information

10. Maintain a list of all friends and business associates.

• Include names, addresses and phone numbers

11. Hold discussions with your next of kin about your wishes for burial and funeral services.

At a minimum the discussion should include cemetery location and type of burial (ground, cremation or burial at sea). This knowledge may assist your next of kin to carry out all of your desires.

12. You could also pre-arrange your funeral services via your local funeral home. Many states will allow you to prepay for services.

13. Investigate the decisions that you and your family have agreed upon. Many states have specific laws and guidelines regulating cremation and burials at sea. Some states require a letter of authority signed by the deceased in order to authorize a cremation. Know the laws in your specific area and how they may affect your decisions. Information regarding Burials at Sea can be obtained by phoning Navy Mortuary Affairs at (866) 787-0081.

14. Once your decisions have been made and you are comfortable with them, have a will drawn up outlining specifics.

15. Ensure that your will and all other sensitive documents are maintained in a secure location known by your loved ones. Organizations to be notified in the event of a retiree death:

• Defense Finance and Accounting Service, London, KY (800) 321-1080

• Social Security Administration (for death benefits) (800) 772-1213

• Department of Veterans Affairs (if applicable) (800) 827-1000

• Office of Personnel Management (OPM) (724) 794-8690

• Any fraternal group that you have membership with (e.g., MOAA, FRA, NCOA, VFW, AL, TREA)

• Any previous employers that provide pension or benefits.

[Source: Shift Colors — Fall/Winter 2016]

As always please see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by email at and as always have a great week.