We have discussed preparation and prior planning before. Just the other week an elderly Veteran and his wife came into the office. The Veteran had a three ring binder with him and had made an appointment to go through the binder and ensure that everything was in order for the time when he died. He wanted to make sure that all of the necessary paperwork was there to make it as easy as possible for his wife.
We have mentioned how important it is for Veterans to have their DD214. Last week we wrote about where to find other important paperwork. This week brings everything together into one place.
Taking the idea of a 3-ring Binder from the Veteran who visited a few weeks ago, we have put together a checklist for a Veterans Preparation Binder.
First, all paperwork in the binder should be in document protectors so that they are kept safely in place. The checklist should be the first page. You can use a dry erase marker to check off each item on the checklist as the binder is built until all of the paperwork is assembled.
The checklist and the booklet “The Next Steps” can be found in our Freebie library. Simply fill in your email address and hit Submit below and you will receive an email with the password to reach the Freebie Library at https://nwavet.org/freebies/.
In addition to the paperwork from the checklist, you can add any other paperwork you think might be necessary. Keep in mind, though, that this is not an “I love me book”. Veterans do not need to include copies of awards, orders, or any paperwork of that type from the military. This binder is an “I love you book” that they are leaving behind for their surviving spouse or other family, so only the paperwork that will help them out should be added.
This could include things like life insurance policies, bank information, mortgage, health insurance, or anything that the Veteran generally takes care of which will need to be “handed off” to someone else. In addition, The Next Steps booklet in this website’s Freebie library has some good information for Surviving Spouses / Family as well as important phone numbers.
I would suggest including the VA Forms on the checklist. These are the typical forms which spouses / family members will need to submit for burial benefits, government headstones, and/or Dependent and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or Survivors Pension. The best thing to do is talk to a local Veteran Service Officer. They can help Survivors navigate through the documents as well as help fill them out and submit them online so that the process is easier. However, if the Veteran and family are located in a very rural area or they are unable to locate a VSO easily, having a copy of the forms will make it easier to file for the benefits they are eligible for.
Please feel free to contact me via email or the comment block below if you have any suggestions or questions. If you come up with other documents or information that should be added to the binder, feel free to let us know!
Thank you and God Bless,