Issue 1: To Repatriate Unclaimed Veterans' Cremated Remains
Currently, many funeral homes across the country are holding the cremated remains of veterans that have been unclaimed by family members or relatives. NFDA strongly believes that these remains should be properly identified and given the proper burial or interment along with the appropriate military honors.
Issue 2: Codify the SSI Exclusion for Irrevocable Funeral and Burial Trusts
Under current regulations, the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) provides that funds set aside by low income individuals in an irrevocable funeral/burial trust to pay for funeral and burial expenses are not treated as resources when determining an applicant's eligibility for SSI. By providing this exclusion, Congress and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have recognized that funeral planning is good social policy – especially for low-income individuals. Pre-need funeral planning and funding actually saves federal, state and local governments money as it encourages individuals to pay for their funeral and burial with funds set aside in advance, thus avoiding government-funded indigent funerals.
Issue 3: To Make Permanent the Current Federal Estate Tax
Under current law, estate taxes are paid by the estate of a decedent on the value of assets owned at the time of death in accordance with a graduated scale. As a result of Congress passing H.R. 4853, the "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010" which was signed into law by President Obama as Public Law 111-312, the estate tax has been extended for two years until December 31, 2012. Among other things, the law sets the exclusion at $5 million dollars ($10 million for a couple) and lowers the tax rate above that limit to 35%. Unless Congress acts otherwise, it will automatically revert to the 2001 exclusion of $1 million dollars ($2 million for couples) and a tax rate of 55% for everything above that limit starting January 1, 2013.
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