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VA Headstone and Marker Requests: A Clarification

Posted: June 13, 2012

There has been some confusion about the VA's policy on ordering headstones and markers for a veteran, particularly the requirement that requesta be accompanied by a written authorization from the next-of-kin (NOK) indicating that a funeral director is acting on their behalf to place an order.

The specific language of the rule states:

Who Can Apply for a Headstone, Marker or Medallion?

Under this rule, only the following individuals may apply for a headstone, marker or medallion:

    1. Decedent's next-of-kin (NOK)
    2. Authorized representative on behalf of decedent
    3. Authorized representative on behalf of next-of-kin

If someone other than the NOK is applying for the headstone, marker or medallion, the application package must include a written statement signed by the NOK or decedent authorizing that person (the applicant) to apply for this benefit. A notarized statement is not required for these purposes.

When burial is in a private cemetery, VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker or VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for Government Medallion must be submitted by the next of kin, a person authorized in writing by the NOK, or a personal representative authorized in writing by the decedent, along with veteran's military discharge documents, to request a Government-provided headstone or marker. Do not send original documents, as they will not be returned.

Ordering a Headstone or Marker in a National, Post, or State Veterans Cemetery

When burial or memorialization is in a national, post, or state Veterans' cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin.

NFDA's Advocacy Division staff in Washington, D.C., has been in conversation with the VA regarding the authorization by the NOK. The Association has been advised that there is no specific VA form for the authorization. Rather VA indicated that funeral directors should "... simply have the NOK sign the existing VA Form 40-1330 in Block 17, and then the funeral home could fill out the rest of the form, including the NOK's name, mailing address, and daytime phone number. The completed VA Form 40-1330 would then be faxed or mailed to us with the Veteran's military discharge documents, and no written authorization would need to be included."

As an alternative, NFDA has developed a new form, the "Appointment of Representative to Process Claim for Government Headstone, Marker or Memorial" form, which has been included with NFDA's other sample legal forms and documents. Members can download this new appointment form by visiting www.nfda.org/legalforms (login required).

In a preneed situation, where a veteran is making his or her own funeral arrangements, the funeral home may use this new Appointment of Representative form so that funeral director can obtain the VA headstone or marker upon the veteran's death. When the veteran dies, the funeral director can fill out VA Form 40-1330, check the second box in Section 16 of the VA form and then sign Section 17 as the Representative. There is no need to involve the family, especially in those cases where family members may not be around.

Again, it should be noted that if burial is in a VA national cemetery or Arlington National Cemetery, VA Form 40-1330 is not required. The cemetery officials will obtain the desired inscription information from the NOK and order the headstone or marker. They have access to the VA Headstone and Marker Electronic Ordering System.

If burial is in a State Veterans' or post cemetery that does not order through the VA's electronic ordering system, the cemetery official will complete Form 40-1330 and submit it to VA. The funeral home would not need to assist the NOK with the application form in this case.

To view all VA rules, regulations and forms related to funeral and burial issues, visit www.cem.va.gov.