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Plan a Burial for a Family Member

When a Servicemember or Veteran, spouse, or dependent child dies, the person who plans the burial or memorial service has to take certain steps. Find out what to do if your family member has just died.

How do I plan a burial for a family member who has just died?

If you have a pre-need decision letter confirming they can be buried in a VA national cemetery:

To start, you may want to choose a funeral director to help you plan the burial. Then either you or the funeral director can call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117 to request a burial.

You don’t need to do anything else except prepare yourself and your family for the funeral. Find out what to expect at a memorial service.

If you don’t have a pre-need decision letter:

To start, you may want to choose a funeral director to help you plan the burial. Then either you or the funeral director will need to take these 3 steps to apply for a burial.

  1. Gather the information and documents you’ll need to identify the deceased

    You’ll need:

    You’ll need the deceased’s:

    • Name
    • Gender
    • Social Security number or Military Service number (Veteran ID)
    • Date of birth
    • Relationship to the Servicemember or Veteran whose military service will be used to decide eligibility
    • Marital status
    • Date of death (and zip code and county at the time of death)

    You’ll need information about the deceased’s next-of-kin (the deceased’s closest living relative), including the person’s:

    • Name
    • Relationship to the deceased
    • Social Security number
    • Phone number
    • Address

    You may also need more information in certain cases:

    • If the deceased was married, you’ll also need the surviving spouse’s status as Servicemember, Veteran or family member.
    • If the deceased has any children with disabilities, you’ll need the status and detailed information for any disabled children who may be buried in the future in a national cemetery.
    • If the deceased’s spouse died previously and was buried in a VA national cemetery, you’ll need the full name of the predeceased spouse as well as the cemetery section and site number where they’re buried.
  2. Decide on the burial details and gather all related information

    You’ll need to tell us:

    Request gravesite memorials and burial honors.

  3. Contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office

    The funeral director you’ve chosen can help you with these steps too:

    • For burial in a national cemetery, fax any discharge papers to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417. Or, scan and email the papers to with the deceased’s name in the subject line.

    • Then call 1-800-535-1117 to confirm the burial application. Be sure to have all the information handy that’s listed above in the “Prepare” section.

    Can I get information about the Burial at Sea program?

    If you have questions about the Burial at Sea program, please contact the United States Navy Mortuary Affairs office toll-free at 1-866-787-0081, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET).
    Get more information about the Burial at Sea program.

    Can I get help paying for burial costs?

    If you’re the spouse of record (the legally recognized spouse) or a designated (legally chosen) family member of a Veteran who died, you may be able to get financial help for burial and funeral costs. Apply for burial allowances.