Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Final Mission - The Retiree Survivor Checklist

As Special Forces Soldiers we are all used to planning missions and contingencies. Don't forget to plan for the final mission and consider the contingencies for your loved ones. Make sure you have left behind written guidance. Here is a sample format:

Retiree Survivor Checklist

Retiree Checklist: This checklist is designed to provide retirees and their loved ones with some help in preparing for the future. The following information is not all-inclusive and should be used with other estate planning tools to lessen trauma to your loved ones.

* Create a military file that includes a copy of retirement orders, separation papers, DD Form 214, medical records, and any other pertinent military paperwork. Make sure your spouse knows the location and telephone number of the nearest military installation.

* Create a military retired pay file. It should include the following contact information for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and Navy Personnel Command:

1. Defense Finance and Accounting Service, U S Military Retirement Pay, Post Office Box 7130, London, KY 40742-7130 (800) 321-1080 or (216) 522-5955/(800) 269-5170 (for issues regarding deceased members).

2. Navy Personnel Command (N135C), Retired Activities Branch, 5720 Integrity Drive, Millington, TN 38055-6220 (This file should also include the number of any pending VA claim as well as the address of the local VA office; a list of deductions currently being made from retired pay or VA benefits. Also include the name, relationship and address of the person you have designated to any unpaid retired pay at the time of death. This designation is located on the back of your Retiree Account Statement)

* Create an annuities file. This file should information about the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) or the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP), or any applicable Civil Service annuity, etc. Additional information regarding SBP, RCSBP and RSFPP annuity claims can be obtained from DFAS office at (800) 321-1080.

* Create a personal document file that has copies of marriage certificates, divorce decrees, adoptions and naturalization papers.

* Create an income tax file. Include copies of both of your state and federal income tax returns.

* Create a property tax file. Include copies of tax bills, deeds and any other related documents/information.

* Create an insurance policy file. Include life, property, accident, liability and hospitalization policies.

* Create a bank file. In a secure location, maintain a list of all bank accounts (joint or individual). Include the location of all deposit boxes, savings bonds, stocks, bonds and any securities owned.

* Create a debt file. In a secure location, maintain a list of all charge accounts and credit cards, and outstanding loans. Include account numbers and mailing addresses.

* Create a membership file. Maintain a list of all associations and organizations of which you are a member. Some of them could be helpful to your spouse.

* Create a personal contacts file. Maintain a list of all friends and business associates who may be helpful. Include name, address and telephone number.

* Disposition of remains. Discuss your plans/desires with respect to the type and location of your funeral service. You should decide about cremation, which cemetery, ground burial, etc. If your spouse knows your desires, it will resolve some of the questions that might arise at a later date.

* Burial. Visit a local funeral home and pre-arrange your services. Many states will allow you to pre-pay for services. 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 the Mortuary Affairs Division at
(866) 787-0081.

* Will. Once your decisions have been made and you are comfortable with them, have a will drawn up outlining all your wishes and store it in a secure location with your other paperwork.

* Notification. Attach the following list of who should be notified in the event of my death:
1. Defense Finance and Accounting Service (800) 321-1080 or (216) 522-5955.
2. Social Security Administration (for death benefits) - (800) 772-1213.
3. Department of Veterans Affairs (if applicable) (800) 827-1000.
4. Office of Personnel and Management (if applicable) - (724) 794-8690.
5. Any fraternal group that you have membership with such as MOOA, FRA, NCOA, VFW, AL, TREA.
6. Any previous employer that provides pension or benefits.

Make sure you provide the Chapter and other Veterans Groups you are affiliated with, a complete bio sketch to include a photo - otherwise we'll use a photo of Woody Woodpecker for your Obit.

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