Retiree checklist: What survivors should know

Shift Colors periodically provides a checklist for retirees and their surviving family members. This checklist is designed to provide retirees and their loved ones with some help in preparing for the future.

___ 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 that includes the following contact information for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and Navy Personnel Command:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service U.S. Military Retired Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1200

Defense Finance and Accounting Service U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1300

(800) 321-1080 or (216) 522-5955 / (800) 269-5170
(for issues regarding deceased members)

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.

___ 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.

___ In a secure location, maintain a list of all charge accounts and credit cards. Include account numbers and mailing addresses.

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

___ Maintain a list of all friends and business associates who may be helpful. Include name, address and telephone number.

___ 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.

___ 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.

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

___ When all the decision-making and documenting is completed, sit back and continue to enjoy life.

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.
The above information is not all-inclusive and should be used with other estate planning tools to lessen trauma to your loved ones.