In the last blog, we covered the history of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the types of benefits it administers to veterans and their families. A historical overview may help you understand your military estate planning needs.
In addition to providing pension, health care, indemnity benefits and survivorship benefits, the administration provides other types of benefits. The VA provides burial benefits, including giving certain family members a burial allowance and the privileges and rights to bury their loved ones in national cemeteries. Because of the extensive benefits the VA provides surviving family members and spouses of veterans who served our country and in doing so, gave up their lives, veterans and active service members should understand their rights to these benefits as part of their overall estate planning.
The VA distinguishes between service-related deaths and non-service-related deaths when determining the amount of the burial subsidy allowance to eligible families. For families of service members who died in-service or after sustaining a service-related injury, the VA’s burial allowance gives eligible family members up to $2,000 each to pay for their burial expenses for deaths that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 or after that date. For deaths that occurred before Sept. 11, 2001, the VA’s burial allowance is limited to $1,500 for each service member. Additionally, the VA pays a portion or may pay for all transportation costs incurred by family members who buried their service members in a national cemetery. There are 131 national VA cemeteries. For non-service-related deaths, the VA caps its burial allowance at $700.