Military Retiree/Veterans

“My Personal Affairs Planning Guide”

Prepared for: ___________________________

Compiled by

Military Retiree Council at Redstone Arsenal, AL 35808

Completed Version 7/02/2016


(A simple, easy to use checklist to annotate your military career information, family data, insurance policies, financial data, and other information.  When completed, members of your family will have what they need to help settle your estate, funeral and burial actions, meeting your personal desires. Upon completion it is recommended that you provide each member of your family a copy, but that’s your choice.  Also place a copy for safe keeping (along with your Wills/Discharge (DD214) Papers.)

(Note: A detailed 26 page Survivors plan at:  sponsored by National Association of Retired Federal Employees, NARFE).  References:  Military Personnel Office-Redstone Arsenal, Army Community Service, several Huntsville area Funeral Homes, Still Serving Veterans, VA National Cemetery, Tutt Fann Veterans Home, various local veteran organizations.  Compiled by: CW3 Alfred Reed (US Army Retired)



Mil Retiree/Vet Planning Guide and References

Pre –Deceased Section - Part 1

(To be completed by retired Service Member/Spouse - for Death Certificate, Obituary, Eulogy)

*Name-Phone number for Assistance: __________________________________________

(Could be Minister or family or Military Casualty Assistance or Funeral Home, if pre-arranged)

*Executor of the Estate/Will: __________________________________________________

Veterans Information:  (For Death Certificate & Newspaper)

Full Name (Incl Middle):__________________________________________ Retired Rank: __________

Social Security Number: __________________ Old/New Mil Service Number: _____________________

Date of Birth: _______________Place of Birth:  __________________ Home Phone: _______________

Home Address:________________________________________________County:_________________

Organ Donor:  Yes/No     Is there a Will:  Yes/No     Living Will:  Yes/No     Power of Attorney:  Yes/No

Receiving Social Security:   Yes/No   (Active-Retiree Wills/POA can be provided by on-post Legal Offices)

Date Entered Military: _____________________ Date Separated/Retired: _____________________ 

Military Retired Pay:  Yes/No       VA disability:  Yes/No   Long Term Care Policy:  ________________

Check:      Married:                 Widowed:            Divorced:             Never Married: 

Current Spouse: ____________________________   (Maiden Name):__________________________ 

Eligible for Survivors Benefit Plan:  Yes/No      Civilian Pension: Yes/No    Cell Phone#: _____________

Place of Marriage: ________________________________ Spouse SSN: ________________________

Divorced Spouse: ____________________________    Date of Divorce: ________________________

Mothers Name: _________________________   Fathers Name: ______________________________

Children: (Names/Birthdate/Address)  

 (1)   _______________________________________________________________________

 (2)   _______________________________________________________________________

 (3)   _______________________________________________________________________

Physician: _______________________________ Minister: __________________________________

Financial Advisor: _________________________ Lawyer:  ___________________________________





Funeral Arrangements:  Part 1 Continued:

**Has the funeral been “Pre-arranged”, if so Name, Phone Number, Policy #:


Do “You” want Burial or Cremation: ___________________   Do you want a Memorial Service:  Yes/No

Place of Funeral Service:  _______________________________________________________________

Place of Visitation:  ____________________________________________________________________

Place of Burial:  _________________________________________    Plot Purchased?  Yes/No

Special Persons Notifications:  ___________________________________________________________

(Suggest a listing or “roll call” or “call chain” of who calls who)

Do you want Military Honor Guard requested:  Yes/No

Do you want Patriot Guard Riders or other “Special Groups/Organizations”: _____________________

Do you want to be buried in Uniform, If available? :  Yes/No

Do you want burial in a National Cemetery: Yes/No : _________________________

Employers Name/Phone/Supervisor:  _____________________________________________________

Documents & Location (Needed immediately):

____ DD 214 (Active Duty Discharge)                  ____ Power of Attorney (Not Valid after death)

_______________________________               _______________________________________

____ Living Will (if you are incapacitated)          ____ Current Will (with Addendum for bequests)

________________________________             _______________________________________

____ Pre-Arranged Funeral Home Policy            ____ Burial Plot Policy/receipt   

________________________________             _______________________________________

____ Insurance policies (to pay expenses)          ____ Is a Guardian Appointed for Minors/Disabled

__________________________________          _______________________________________

____Obit/Eulogy                                                      ____ Special Readings

__________________________________         _______________________________________

____ List of organizations/groups to notify        ____ Special Traditions to Follow                                                         

___________________________       ______________________________





Part 2


(Funeral Section - for Death Certificate, Obituary, Eulogy)

*Note-These actions will be assisted by your chosen Funeral Home/Director

To be done immediately:

Encourage delay in social media posting until after this step

Call 911 If death occurs at home. (The Police will assist with notifications)

Select and/or notify the Funeral Home (*If pre-arranged, most decisions will have been made, just call their contact Phone #__________________________________)

If your Veteran is an Organ Donor ensure the Mortuary is informed, if the Veteran has passed in a hospital or at home with Hospice, ensure they are aware of "organ donor" status

Make immediate family and close friend notifications; let others help you (Use call tree);


To be done next day :  (With Funeral Director assistance & Completed PART 1):

Remember that the VA does “NOT” cover all costs of a veteran’s funeral. (Plot, Vault, Opening/closing and Flag.)  Details and pricing options will be provided by the chosen Funeral Director and/or .

Establish contact with chosen Funeral Home, meet with Director and Focus on the funeral/memorial service, dates and times, financials.  (Take someone you trust with you to help with decision making.  Decide in advance the maximum amount you can spend)

If military cemetery is desired, the Funeral Director will help.  The US Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration website has a listing by state with contact information.   or call: 1 (800) 827-1000 (Recent change: Pre-eligibility of grave sites IS NOW allowed, also note, a spouse can be buried in a National Cemetery)

Start several “to do” and thought lists.  A “last wishes” list.  Are there things that your loved one would have liked or preferred?  Write it down.

If you have ties to another geographical area or home town, consider posting obituary there as well.  Watch the cost of the obituary, it can add up quickly.

If there will be an open casket, select what your Veteran will wear.  If it is a uniform, seek help from another Veteran or Veterans Organization to ensure that it is properly displayed.  If you want anything else placed in the casket, such as a cross or rosary, ensure that it, along with clothes are delivered to the Funeral Home as soon as practical.





Part 2 Continued:

The degree of military honors afforded an Active/Retiree/Veteran vary.  The Funeral Director will be able to help.  Other resources include the Casualty Assistance Office on your nearest Base, Military OneSource  or contact the Military Cemetery Administration at or 1 (800) 827-1000.

Consider requesting the presence of Patriot Guard Riders, American Legion, or VFW.  These are dedicated group of Veterans and volunteers who will provide a military presence at Veteran and Military Services.  Support can be requested on their website at:

Within a Few Days:  Important notifications/Contacts:

Notify anyone who was sending your Veteran checks including retirement(s), social security, or employer.  Here are some common numbers:

Army - Ft Rucker Casualty Assistance (334) 255-9081   (24 hour automated line), or Benefits (334) 255-9005

Redstone Casualty Assistance (256) 876-4252, (256) 824-2718

Navy        1-800-368-3202              Air Force 1-800-433-0048         Marine Corps 1-800-847-1597

Coast Guard   1-800-772-8724       Redstone ID card Section 256-842-2413 or 256-313-0018

____ Army Emergency Relief 256-876-5397 (For emergency funds for immediate needs of survivors)

____ Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) 800-321-1080

____ DEERS/ID Card/Medical Update   800-538-9552

____ Office of Personnel Management (For federal civilian employees) 1-888-767-6738

____ Social Security 1-800-772-1213 (there may be a $255 benefit)

____ Veterans Administration 1-800-827-1000 (there may be a burial benefit, Headstone, Certificates)

____ Employer’s Human Resource Office (they will also be able to help on life insurance,  cancelation of medical insurance, and/or payment of any unpaid salaries/benefits)

 “Locate” the following documents (in addition to those in Part 1):

____ Military Retirement Orders     ____ Previous Death Certificates       ____ Retired Pay Statements

____ VA Disability Paperwork          ____ Marriage Certificates                   ____ Safe Deposit Box

____ Divorce Decrees/Pre-Nups      ____ Citizenship/Passports Papers    ____ Real Estate Deeds

____ Birth/Adoption Certificates     ____ Bank Acct Statements                 ____ Tax Returns

____ Vehicle Titles & Registration   ____ Insurance Policies                        ____ Investment Statements

____ On Line/Computer passwords (phone, Banking, Facebook, etc)





 “Pay” the following (or be prepared to Pay):

____ Funeral Expenses (Average cost $3500-$12,000)     ____ Income taxes (regular filing time frame)

____ Burial Plot/Urn/Vault    ____ Current or Urgent Bills   ____ Monument/Marker for the gravesite

____ Clergy   ____ Organist   ____ Florist   ____ Transportation   _____ Clothing   ___ Ambulance

Follow-on Actions Part 3

Within a Few Weeks:

Consider both ID Theft and Social Media.  Notifications can be made to Credit Reporting agencies such as TransUnion or Experian for a death to prevent ID theft.  Social Media Sites you should close accounts and reopen a new if desired or as a minimum change the passwords as soon as possible.

The Funeral Director will order Certified Death Certificates.  Order 6 to 10 copies for financial and insurance companies.  Many organizations require “certified copies” (with raised seal), but some will accept scanned images. 

Notify all life insurance companies.  Research to see if there are small “add on” policies that might be associated with such things as Credit Union membership, bank accounts, or through your employer.

Notify home insurance company.   Notify auto insurance company

Notify your banking and your mortgage holder institutions.  They will require a copy of the death certificate to make changes to joint accounts.

Request new debit card (if you use one) and delete all others once it arrives.  (Note: This will force service providers to contact you to continue charging to automatic payment accounts)

Notify creditors including credit card issuers.  Caution: if the card/account is only in the Veterans name, some companies will immediately turn off the card and you will not have access to the services.  If you need the card, delay the notification until you can establish one in your own name.

Decide whether a lawyer will be required to assist with probate or estate handling.  While expensive, getting good legal advice can be invaluable during this critical time.  If retired military, On-Post Legal Office may be able to help or refer.

If you have home security system, notify provider. 

Cancel email and website accounts, if possible.  If not, they will just become inactive over time.   Change the passwords for major accounts like Amazon, Apple, etc., even if they are in your name alone. 

If you have had a joint checking account, consider whether you want to add someone you trust onto the account in case of emergency.  Make this decision carefully. Death Certificate will be needed.

Review your wills and/or trusts to reflect your new status and desires (May not be required)




  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 1)2:09
  • Nowhere To Run2:55
  • I Get Around2:08
  • The Game of Love2:04
  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 2)0:15
  • Sugar and Spice2:13
  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 3)0:47
  • Liar, Liar1:51
  • The Warmth of the Sun2:48
  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 4)0:34
  • I Got You (I Feel Good)2:45
  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 5)0:08
  • Baby Please Don't Go2:40
  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 6)0:33
  • Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead2:28
  • Five O'Clock World2:18
  • California Sun2:22
  • Adrian Cronauer (Pt. 7)1:21
  • What a Wonderful World2:16

Home of the late Medal of Honor Recipient  Col Leo K. Thorsness

Operation Zero Website

Grave Marker Ordering

Exposures and associated diseases by War & Operations start here.  Pick which war(s) and folloe applicable hyperlinks

To replace lost or damaged medals

To obtain a copy of Military Service Records

All of these can be requested by the Veteran OR next of kin if the veteran is deceased

Contact Reba Adams for just about any other help or assistance needed.

256-656-4186 OR

Below is a easy to use checklist to annotate your military career information, family data, insurance policies, financial data, and other information.  When completed, members of your family will have what they need to help settle your estate, funeral and burial actions, meeting your personal desires. Upon completion it is recommended that you provide each member of your family a copy, but that’s your choice.  Also place a copy for safe keeping (along with your Wills/Discharge (DD214) Papers.  

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1067

Sound track from "Good Morning Vietnam"