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Veterans and Funeral Expenses: What You Need to Know As a Family Member

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Losing a loved one can bring about an onslaught of new expenses for a funeral and burial at a time when the last thing you want to think about is finances. As the family member of a veteran, you should know that the same expenses may not always apply when you are making arrangements. In fact, veterans often qualify for extensive benefits after they pass away to help cover the costs of the funeral. Here is a quick look at a few of the things you likely want to know if you are facing the planning of a funeral for a veteran who is also your family member. 

Most veterans do qualify for some help toward funeral expenses. 

As long as your relative was honorably discharged or retired from the armed forces, there is a high likelihood that you can receive reimbursement or help paying for funeral expenses. The VA (The United States Department of Veterans Affairs) offers a $700 allowance for funeral expenses for veterans who were still eligible to receive a military pension when they passed away or were entitled to pension but receiving military pay. However, there are specific rules that create eligibility as well, such as the dates of service of the veteran and the branch for which they served. This allowance can be claimed after the passing of your loved one by submitting a reimbursement form to the VA.  

Your loved one may qualify for free burial in one of the VA national cemeteries. 

In some cases, a veteran's family will not have to pay anything for the burial of their loved one. If a veteran qualifies, they can be buried in a VA national cemetery at no charge. This service includes the digging of the grave, the burial plot itself, the liner for burial, and the headstone. In some situations, the VA will even help family members cover the expenses of transporting their deceased loved one to a national cemetery for burial. If this is something you are interested in doing, let the funeral director know so they can help you make arrangements.

You may be eligible for burial coverage even in a private cemetery. 

If you would prefer your veteran loved one to be buried in a private cemetery, you may still be eligible for some help with burial expenses. For example, a headstone may be provided for the veteran free of charge. For more about these benefits, check with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs or talk to a funeral home about their veteran's funeral package.