Veterans may have a few extra items on their retirement and estate planning checklists.
Are you a veteran?
First, thank you for your service and sacrifices.
The path you chose was not an easy one.
But it is an honorable one.
As you look forward to retirement and end-of-life concerns, proper preparation is key.
Not sure where to begin?
The Wadena Pioneer-Journal article titled “What survivors should know; A veteran/retiree checklist,” gives a summary checklist to help.
Although not all-encompassing, it is at least solid place to begin.
Organization is key.
Start by creating different files.
Then place all pertinent information and documents into the appropriate file.
What files will you need and what should you include in each?
- Retirement orders
- Medical records
- Your DD 214
Military Retired Pay File.
- List of current deductions from benefits
- Claim number for pending VA claims
- Address for your VA office
- The name, relationship and contact information for your retired pay beneficiary
- Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)
- Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP)
- Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
- Your civil service annuity
Personal Document File.
- Naturalization papers
- Marriage records
- Divorce decrees
- Adoption records
Income Tax File.
- Copies of state income tax returns
- Copies of federal income tax returns
Property Tax File.
- Tax bills
- Relevant property information
Insurance Policy File.
- Accident insurance records
- Liability insurance records
- Life insurance records
- Hospitalization insurance records
- Property insurance records
- Medical insurance records
- Bank account numbers
- Savings bond information
- Location of safety deposit boxes
- 401(k) accounts
- Credit Card account numbers and mailing address
Be sure these are secure.
- List of organizations and associations
- Contact info
- Membership fee information
Family and Business Contacts.
- List business associates
- List friends
- Compile contact information
With these files in place, what should you do next?
Prepare funeral arrangements.
Would you prefer to be buried or cremated?
Where would you like your remains to rest?
What type of service would you like?
When you have these questions, be sure your loved ones are aware of your wishes.
You can also prearrange and prepay at the funeral home of your choice.
Click here for a free helpful tool to document the information needed for your obituary and whatever you decide regarding your final wishes.
I simply call it the "My Last Wishes" form.
Create an estate plan.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a plan appropriate for the disbursement of your assets to your beneficiaries.
An experienced estate planning attorney will enable you to develop an estate plan specific to your situation and wishes.
Notify the proper people.
All of your estate planning and important personal and financial documents should be kept in a safe and secure location.
Be sure to tell your family where to find them and how to access them.
As a veteran, your loved ones will need to contact certain organizations ASAP when you pass.
Who might these be?
- Department of Veterans Affairs (that DD214 is the key that unlocks funeral benefits!)
- Previous employers who provide pension or benefits
- Fraternal organization where you have membership
- Defense Finance and Accounting Service
- Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
- Social Security because of death benefits
By following these steps, you will set yourself and your loved ones up for success come what may.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Wadena (MN) Pioneer-Journal (January 21, 2017) “What survivors should know; A veteran/retiree checklist”