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Things To Do Before A Veteran Dies

One of the eventualities in life...an unpleasant one to be sure, but one that the spouses and families of veterans must keep in mind.  In the inevitable death of a veteran, to help ease the burdens on a newly deceased veteran's family during this emotionally trying time, certain preparations should be made in advance.  Here are a few of the more important papers and useful information to have on hand.

Important Records

The first step to be accomplished by all families is to have easy access to the following papers and records.

  • Family life insurance policies and any VA insurance policies, including beneficiary designation.
  • Birth certificates for all family members.
  • The veteran's discharge certificate (DD214).
  • VA documents, if any, indicating a VA claim number (after June 1974, the social security number is assigned as the claim number).
  • A copy of the family Will (not required for VA benefits).
  • A copy of all marriage certificates and divorce decrees, if any.
  • Location of any safe deposit boxes (not required by the VA).
  • Copies of any meritorious awards.

The American Legion has fully accredited Service Officers located in each VA Regional Office.  These representatives are at your service to help develop and file claims and assist you and/or your dependents in applying for the various benefits to which you may be entitled.  It is recommended that you list numbers and locations of the following noted items so that your family will have the details necessary to file for benefits if you are incapacitated or deceased.  You should file this information in a safe place at home or provide it to the Post for safekeeping.

  1. Full Name
  2. Date of Birth
  3. Location of Birth Certificate
  4. Social Security Number
  5. Military Service Number
  6. Branch of Service
  7. Place of entry into the Service
  8. Dates of Service
  9. Discharge Type
  10. Location of Discharge Certificates
  11. Name/address of those you served with
  12. Duty stations
  13. VA Claim number
  14. County/state where discharge is recorded
  15. Spouse's Full Name
  16. Date/Place of marriage
  17. Location of marriage certificate
  18. Names of children
  19. Location of your children's birth certificates
  20. Other information: wills/location, insurance, bank accounts, mortgage