I was recently watching a professional football game where they had a family down on the field honoring them for the service of their son who was serving our country in Afghanistan. As the announcer was describing this impressive young man, he appeared on the field and surprised his family who thought he was still overseas fighting for our country! The joy that they had was contagious and I found myself tearing up at this wonderful reunion.
This also made me think of all of the veterans we serve at Legacy Safeguard that believe since they are veterans that their funeral expenses are completely paid for because they served our country. In fact, many veterans believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay for their funeral expenses.
While the VA does provide burial allowances, they are in fact partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot or interment allowance.
According the VA website, http://www.va.gov, if you are a veteran you may be eligible for VA burial allowance if:
- you paid for a veteran’s burial or funeral, AND
- you have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran’s employer, AND
- the veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
- the veteran died because of a service-related disability, OR
- the veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
- the veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
- the veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA facility, OR
- the veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, OR
- the veteran had an original or reopened claim pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date or death, OR
- the veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.
Now for the big question…How Much Does VA REALLY Pay?
Service-Related Death. VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
Nonservice-Related Death. VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance for deaths on or after December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the veteran’s remains may be reimbursed.
While these are good benefits, they won’t usually cover the cost of a funeral. Many veterans are disappointed when they learn that the government doesn’t pay more for their funeral expenses. This false sense of security can lead to a lot of stress for families when a veteran passes away. This is why proper final expense planning is so important for all of our clients. Therefore, be sure to educate your veteran clients about the reality of the benefits that they are entitled to, so this doesn’t happen to them.
Funding a Funeral Trust and enrolling your veteran clients in Legacy Safeguard is another service you can provide not only for the veteran, but for their family. This will not only ensure their family is not left with the burden of having to pass the hat to pay for their funeral, but gives them a powerful venue through the Legacy Safeguard to detail the memories they want to pass down to their loved ones. Legacy Safeguard can also assist the family as they plan to honor their veteran when the need arises. We will be proud to stand by you and assist you as you support those who have done so much to preserve the freedom of our great nation.
Bryan W. Adams is President & CEO of Premier Planning, LLC and Founder of Legacy Safeguard. Bryan is considered one of the nations’ leading experts on final expense planning, and he frequently speaks throughout the country about the importance of assisting clients to gain peace of mind through advanced funeral funding.
Bryan’s passion for helping families prepare for their final expenses came from being raised in the funeral business. His family still owns and operates several funeral homes, and he is constantly amazed at how unprepared families are when a death occurs. Bryan has worked tirelessly to help Americans plan for the inevitable and lessen the burden on their loved ones.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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