November of each year holds special meaning for Canadian Veterans. It is the month in which formal tribute is paid to those persons who fought and died for their Country in World War I, War II and the Korean War. When veterans of these conflicts die, those who qualify are eligible for funeral and burial allowances administered by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Last Post Fund (LPF).
As this is the November issue of the newspaper, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit an item, which I touched on in a previous article about Veterans and the funeral and burial allowances available to those that qualify.
By way of background, the Last Post Fund is a non-profit Corporation whose purpose is to ensure, where possible, that no eligible Canadian War Veteran of WW I, II and the Korean War is denied a dignified funeral and burial for lack of sufficient funds at the time of their death. It operates in cooperation with and is supported financially by Veterans Affairs Canada.
In accordance with the Veterans Burial Regulations, for eligibility to be considered on the basis of insufficient funds, an assessment of financial resources at the time of the Veteran’s death must be undertaken. The scope of the assessment will vary depending on whether the Veteran is single at death or is survived by a spouse and/or dependent children.
If the Veteran dies single the Veteran’s estate as a whole is taken into consideration with no exemptions.
If the Veteran is survived by a spouse and/or dependent children the Veteran’s estate, the assets of the surviving spouse and Canada Pension Plan death benefits must be taken into consideration. However, in calculating the value of the Veteran’s available estate and the assets of the surviving spouse the following assets are excluded:
- The family’s principal residence and car.
- An amount equal to the Veteran’s monthly income that was received in the month of death.
The maximum asset an eligible Veteran may have has is $12,015.00. The exemption for each dependent child 18 and under is $700.00. The cost of the funeral, burial and grave marker is added to the basic estate exception of $12,015.00
Note if, after the funeral and burial services have been paid for through the LPF, it is found the value of the available Veteran’s estate and/or assets of the surviving spouse exceeded the financial eligibility criteria, the LPF will seek to be reimbursed in whole or in part.
For those who qualify the maximum funeral services grant available is $3600 plus HST for the services of one funeral home and $4100 plus HST when two funeral homes are involved.
With a casket burial in addition to professional services and provision of a solid hardwood or veneer casket the LPF will compensate Veteran’s families for other expenses, such as, local transportation of the remains for distances over 16 KM and, under certain conditions, non-local transportation, a single perpetual care grave with standard LPF marker, the opening and closing of the grave, a grave liner or vault where such are required by cemetery regulations, rental of lowering devices and grass matting and the provisions of an oversized and hermetically sealed casket, if warranted.
When cremation is chosen, the cost of the disposition of cremated remains will be limited to the cost of a casket burial of $3600 plus HST. This will include the cost of a cremation hardwood urn up to a maximum value of $350.00, the use of a rental casket, if viewing is requested, and provision of a cremation container along with cremation. Allowable additional services will include, where applicable, those noted above, such as, transportation, a single perpetual care grave with standard marker and the opening and closing of the grave.
In both cases the LPF will also pay the applicable taxes in addition to the grant and additional allowable expenses.
There are two types of services available, the LPF Standard Services and the LPF Assisted Service (after-the-fact).
LPF Standard Services may be applied for only at the time of death. When death occurs the next-of-kin or other responsible person should contact an LPF office as soon as possible in person or by phone. The purpose of this contact is to provide the basic information that will permit an Officer of the Fund to establish eligibility.
If the next-of-kin or other responsible person chooses to apply for LPF Standard Services an application form must be completed and signed by the applicant at the time of contact or, if contact is made by phone, an application form will be mailed to the applicant for completion and signature as soon as possible thereafter.
If the application for LPF Standard Services is approved, the LPF will enter into a contract with a funeral home of the family’s choice to provide funeral services to a pre-determined LPF standard.
LFP Assisted Services may be applied for at the time of death or up to one year after the time of death. However, regardless of when the application is made during this one-year period, there will be no final determination of eligibility until itemized invoices or receipts for funeral and burial services contracted or paid for have been presented to the LPF.
Implications associated with applying after-the-fact include:
- The applicant or applicant’s family assumes full responsibility for making the arrangements with the funeral director for the services of their choice.
- The payment of these services becomes the direct responsibility of whoever signs the contract with the funeral director.
- The amount payable, either the full amount or a portion thereof assuming the application is approved, will be paid by the LPF whether directly to the applicant, or if bills are outstanding and at the applicant’s request to the funeral director.
Veterans Affairs Canada
Veterans currently receiving benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada may also qualify for a partial or full burial allowance. Qualifications in this case will again depend on both the financial and marital status of the Veteran as defined herein. For those who qualify, the maximum funeral services grant is the same as offered under the LPF.
For more information regarding burial grants available for Veterans you may contact the Newfoundland and Labrador Branch of the LPF in St. John’s (ph 579 4288), the local office of Veterans Affairs Canada (ph 772 4716) and/or a funeral director.