Widows Checklist / Estate Planning

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For information regarding Estate Planning click here.

First Steps:

  1. Call funeral home
  2. Call Clergy
  3. Call Family and close friends
  4. Find will and any other estate documents; call your attorney, if necessary.
  5. Locate DD Form 214


Additional first steps:

  1. Contact Veterans Administration (VA) to obtain flag for burial and other burial assistance that might be available.  800-827-1000
  2. With the funeral director, discuss military honors for the deceased, as appropriate. Request 10 death certificates and find out how to get more in the future, if needed.
  3. Notify Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)    800-321-1080
  4. Notify Social Security  800-772-1213
  5. Notify USNA Alumni Association (USNAAA)  410-295-4000 or Class rep
  6. Notify your Certified Financial Planner (CFP), if you have one


PAUSE for funeral, memorial service, celebration of life, and interment


After funeral:

  1. Notify life insurance companies
  2. With Veterans Administration (VA) apply for reimbursement of burial expenses and any survivor benefits, for which you are eligible.   800-827-1000
  3. Check with banks and other creditors for any life insurance and/or accidental death benefits.


Create a Balance Sheet of Assets and Liabilities:

     Assets—things you own

  1. List all cash accounts (identify institution holding the account, who owns account, account number, balance on day of death.)
  2. List all investments (identify the kind of investment (e.g.: CD, mutual fund, brokerage account, debt (i.e. money you’ve loaned to someone else), etc); which institution holds the investment; who owns the investment; account number; and balance/value on day of death.)
  3.  List all investments for children and grandchildren (identify the kind of investment (e.g. UGMA account, 529 plan account, UTMA account, etc); which institution holds the account; owner of the account; beneficiary of the account; and balance on day of death.)
  4. List all retirement accounts (e.g. IRA, SEP-IRA, ROTH IRA, 401(k), etc); which institution holds the account, who owns the account; beneficiary; balance on day of death.)
  5. List all personal assets (e.g. home, boat, timeshare, car, etc); who owns the property;  value on day of death.)
  6. List safe deposit boxes (location of box, ownership of box).  (Locate the key to the box.)


     Liabilities (Debts)—money you owe

  1. Compose a list of all debt (e.g. mortgage, car, credit card, home equity, etc).  (Determine lending institution, registered owner of the loan, loan number and balance on day of death.)

With your CFP, if you have one, or attorney:


  1. Work through probate/estate settlement process
  2. Realign asset ownership, as necessary
  3. Update your life insurance and retirement account beneficiaries, as necessary
  4. Ensure annual Required Minimum Distribution from retirement accounts is taken
  5. Realign trustees on trusts, as necessary
  6. Adjust ownership/custodian arrangements on investment accounts for children and grandchildren (e.g. UGMA, 529 Plan, etc).
  7.  Have house appraised, if necessary
  8. Assemble data for income tax
  9. Update your own estate plans


Contact former employers and professional organizations to which the deceased belonged.

  1. Inform them of deceased death
  2. Inquire if there are any spousal benefits about which you should be aware


Visit closest military base and have your ID card updated (take a death certificate with you)

For the first twelve months:

  1. Make no major decisions unless absolutely necessary, and then only after discussion with your family and/or trusted advisor.  (You are grieving and even though you may feel all right, you won’t think rationally for awhile).
  2. Remember the happy times and good memories of the past (It’s ok to cry and feel badly from time to time.)


After awhile:

  1. Force yourself to turn the page and begin a new chapter
  2. Be active. Despite the difficulty, force yourself to create new happy times and memories.
  3. Turn your attention outward.  Become a blessing to someone.

Glossary                                                                                                         Phone Number


DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service)                                  (800)-321-1080


Social Security                                                                                                (800)-772-1213


VA (Veterans Administration)                                                                       (800)-827-1000


USNA Alumni Association                                                                            (410)-295-4000


CFP (Certified Financial Planner)


CD (Certificate of Deposit)


UGMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act)


UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act)


IRA (Individual Retirement Account)


SEP-IRA (Simplified Employee Pension –IRA)



Helpful Websites:

2013 Deceased Retiree Survivor’s Guide (post-death guidance for military families)



USNA Class of 1952 Personal Affairs Planning Guide (useful estate planning guide)



How to get a DD Form 214




Helpful Contacts:

President USNA Class of 1956, George Mushalko (gmushalko@cox.net)

Updated 4/12/13

For all contact information please see the Class Register.

For the ID and password, please contact webmaster@usna56.org

Contact information on this web site is intended  for use by those directly associated with the USNA Class of 1956. Any other use, including commercial purposes, is unauthorized unless authorized in writing by the appropriate class representative. For any questions on this policy contact, Bob Keller at rmkeller34@verizon.net