It’s Your Money > U.S. Military Veteran Benefits

Help pls, I need some info-Hubby just passed away-US Army Ret-Liver Cirrhosis

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To all the Ladies and Gentlemen here, I need your advice guys.  My husband was in the US Army.  He retired Nov 2011 and we moved to the Phils Dec of 2012.  He was in Iraq year 2006-2007 as a Combat Medic.  He had a terrible PTSD and that caused him to drink excessively.  He got dianosed of Liver Cirrhosis Dec of 2013 and had an Ultrasound Guided Paracentesis at FEU-Nicanor Reyes Medical Center in Fairview, Quezon City, Manila.  He recovered for a bit  when he stopped drinking until March 15, 2014 and after that he started drinking again until Dec 13, 2014 just before his second Ultrasound Guided Paracentesis on Dec 17, 2014.  He got admitted in the hospital Dec 15, 2014.  We stayed in the hospital for 3 days and he was persistent to go home so his attending physician let us to go home.  Before Christmas I was convincing him again to see a doctor but he refused most of the time.  He said he will go Dec 29 but   yesterday, Dec 27, 2014 I knew he was very ill and so I drove him to the hospital right away and sadly, he passed away this morning at 103 am, Dec 28.  He had and internal bleeding, his liver failed and his other organs got affected too.

Now, I know that I need to contact Veterans Affairs in Manila and the US Embassy when they are open after the holidays but any advice you can give me guys will be VERY MUCH APPRECIATED.  And is VA will give me financial help on the burial?.  I read on their Manual before that they will give a U.S. flag and something made of marble where is name is written(  I am sorry I forgot what its called now, my mind is somewhere right now ), we call it here in the Phils "LAPIDA".  My second question is, what paper work do I need to prepare to submit to VA and the US embassy or the Army?.  I know I need to prepare all his medical records, laboratory tests, anything else please?. 3rd question, Do i need my husband to be autopsied??, to be on the safe side?.  US is very meticulous when it comes to people passing so I want to do the right thing. 

I have spoke to his Dad, Mom and Aunt on the phone even when my husband was still alive in the ICU, and when he passed away I inform them again (been emailing his mom and dad before he got admitted on the 15th of Dec 2014, so they knew pretty much what was going on here in the Phils).  My husband will be buried here in my hometown-Panay Island.  That was his wish when he was alive.  He said that he wanted to be buried where my mom was buried.  His family said they will not come to see him for the last time and they agreed for my husband to be buried here in the Phils, I feel  so sad for that because in my culture, we make sure even when we are so far away if we can afford it, we will go home and pay our last respect to our loved ones, but I understand that not all cultures are like ours and I respect it.  I know most people they want to remember their loved ones to be still alive in their minds and not to see them in a box:-(. 



Marie of Antique, Phils.

Sorry to hear about your loss.  I don't the answers to all your questions though.  Same doesn't apply to me as it probably does with your husband.  About all I know is that I can get a flag and a slab of marble or something.  I suggest you contact the U.S. Embassy and also go to VA website.  Some help in giving you some answers will also eventually pop up on here.

Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am:
Sorry to hear about the loss of your husband, my condolences to you and to his family.
For now, all I can advise you is to have at least half a dozen certified death certificates as soon as you can avail them from your hospital's doctor or administrator, it will be the most important document you will need to send to the military, VA, SSA, his life insurance agency and or other agencies your husband was collecting benefits or pensions from. If you live near a Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), you can ask for their assistance in what you should do to manage your husband's affairs and to also get any survivor's benefits you are entitled to, besides the VA, military, U.S. Embassy and the SSA. Also important, whatever joint bank accounts you may have now, withdraw all the money you can before the bank freezes all of you bank joint accounts. Open your own new bank accounts ASAP in your name only, because you will need a new bank account to provide to any agency assisting you with your survivor's benefits!
Take care!

Sorry to hear of your asawa's passing.  I will pray for you.

Art hit a very important issue that I was not even thinking of when I was planning a response.  The death certs are VERY important and will be requested a lot.  My grandpa served in the Navy for a career and at his death it was crazy how many demands there were for his death cert.  From all the places that Art mentioned and more that will pop up over time of places that you either didn't know of, or expect to ask for them.  Make sure you get enough of them.

My suggestion would be to call, if you can, and work with someone at the VA and/or VFW(if you have one anywhere near your area(I never even knew they existed in the Phils honestly) and I think that you'll get a lot of your questions answered either by them, or they'll point you in the correct direction to get the help you need.

I hope you are able to endure this better than most.

Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am:
Your husband could have been in contact with a few of these government websites. If he has usernames and passwords to these websites, you can access them.
If he was ever a civil service employee and receiving a pension

For Military and VA

Here's also a list of the Retirees Activities Offices (RAO) offices
for various important information concerning military retirees living
in the Philippines.

Here's also a few topics I saved over the years that may help members on here if ever or whenever these situations arise:

Report of Death and the Legalities

This is one aspect to life that we really need to have organized before it happens.

What happens when we die?

Although we have everything fairly well organized for my wife and family if I died in Australia, dying in the Philippines adds a whole new world of comlexity to the situation my wife would then face. And she will need to face this at exactly the time when she will feel least able to deal with things.

However, it will be crucial that she handles all of our affairs properly and well, in order to gain everything she is legally and financially entitled to, and well deserves, for the remainder of my dear wife's life.

It's so important that we have our affairs in order. Personally I'd rather be buried than cremated, but I'm not convinced that any Philippines funeral company and also our lawyer and other family members still in Australia could properly handle everything necessary.

It does seem very complicated, as the following post from another forum demonstrates. Are others here properly organized? Opinions and exeriences?

Recently i had a good friend die all of a sudden who had no girlfriend or wife, his name was Howard 60 years of age and lived in Dalaguete Cebu. We thought it would be a good idea to share the information that i learnt from death to burial so if any other member finds that they are in the same position, they will have some idea of procedures and costs.

Howard died at 7.45am fortunately i was by his side at the time so he was not on his own. First thing i learnt is that they will not move the body to the morgue unless there is a friend or relative present. I then had to aquire his Philippines death certificate which a friend or relative has to sign.

They will want to know about his occupation, birth date, full name, current address and whether they are to be buried or cremated, so have these facts in hand when you go back to the hospital to aquire the death certificate. I wanted Howard moved to a funeral home asap, so had to pay his medical bill that morning before they would release his body.

After i recieved the death certificate i had to take it to another medical center where another doctor signed it off, then i had to go to the local municipality hall and register his death there at a cost of 200 pesos.

I went back then to the funeral home and was offered packages from 32,000 pesos for cremation and starting at 45,000 pesos for burial, though i had to pay 50,000 pesos because he was over 6ft tall and had to get a slightly larger coffin. The package included embalment, coffin, a week period of stay at the funeral home and transporting the body around. As Howard was non religious we had him buried in the municipality grave yard, at a cost of 1000 pesos for the plot. If he was Catholic the church would want 5000 pesos for the plot.

I then had to arrange for someone to dig the grave and put a slab of concrete over the top. That came to 900 pesos but i had to supply the cement which was two bags in total. I also got Howard a plaque to go on top i choose a concrete one for 600 pesos, though there was a mable one for 1500 pesos. Then there was the food and drink after the burial i brought 100 cokes and 100 pieces of bread for the Filipinos and a round of beer at Charitos in Dalaguete for the foreigners.

As he was renting the owner of the house was unwilling to have him there until the burial so I had no choice but to leave him at the burial home until the day of his burial, where i then moved him to where i am staying for the afternoon so people could come and pay their respects and sign the condolence book..

You also need to speak to the Barangy Captain to organise the Barangy Tanod to help with the traffic on the way to the cementary, that cost 500 pesos also. Flowers came to 5000 pesos. I sold of his possessions in the house he was renting as it was unfurnished, and raised enough money to pay half the funeral home to get his body released from there and for the other items i have already mentioned. I of course kept his personal possessions and sent them back to the UK for his son to keep.

I had the full authorization from his only son Tony to make all the arrangements and to get him buried, unfortunatly he could not make his father's burial. Though he will be out here sometime soon.

The next step after he was buried was to get a British death certificate from the British embassy in Manila. This is no simple feat. I had to get Tony to sign an application death form and send it over to me. Then i had to send that with his passport and Philippine death certificate to the embassy to get the British one, this cost 12.750 pesos. It took them 5 working days to do their own investigation and send the British death certificate back to me. I then had to FedEx that back to the UK to Tony, so he could give it to his lawyer to have the Will read out.

I managed to pursuade his bank here in the Philippines to give me his account balance, but i will need a letter of authorisation from Tony with a copy of Tony's birth certificate to allow me to draw out the funds. Though when Tony comes here he can do that himself.

Well thats about all i have learnt in a very short time. I hope no one will have to go through this, but if they do i hope this helps in some way to point you in the right direction and have some idea what the procedure is.

In case of death

I recently made a " checklist" for my Girlfriend to run should I assume room temperature here in the Philippines. I will try to cover the important items in order. (1.) Go to bank or banks asap and withdraw all, or most, money in joint accounts. (2.) Made a list of people to notify, complete with email addresses and phone numbers. (3.) If you die in a hospital she will need to pay the hospital bill. When she does that she should ask if she will need to carry a certificate of death to the funeral home that your body was sent to. (4.) The funeral home will have to sign off on the death certificate, and you will have to carry that paperwork to your local city hall. They will issue an original blue copy death certificate. (5.) You will need to get an additional  number of certified true copies of the death certificate from City Hall. (In my case that # was eleven, and I indicated who to mail copies to).  (6.) I left instructions on small issues such as getting my money out of the Philippine Retirement Authority ( good luck with that one!), going to L.T.O. to put car in her name and how to sell it, etc. (7.) And last, but not least, I told her to go through personal papers with one of my friends and who to send them to, along with a reminder that my Will is kept at the local RAO. ...In my case I wish to be put in the ground at Clark and have sent instructions to a son on how to make that happen complete with names and phone numbers of RAO and VFW. I hope this info can be of use, but I miss the old days when the subject was usually more muff related.

Inheritance laws in the Philippines and Joint Account concerns

Below are just a few excerpts I bunched together on one page that came from a group forum descussion:

Yes, well the banks will never tell you nothing about accounts here, not like
U.S. where they give you a handout on your accounts that explain everything
regarding various types of accounts. No real estate involved anymore with us,
we liquidated 2 houses in California and one in Manila already, so that money is
in the states in Joint Accounts (with survivorship), treasury bonds in both our
names, so with our life insurance. So going to Attorney tomorrow to have Last
Will done, I suggested a joint will, which I have the form for, but only problem
with those, is once one dies, they can never be changed. So will get two wills
done, mainly for Philippines. None of our things in Nevada require a will, as
all held jointly, but as you know here in Philippines does not really mean
jointly. Will also retain my attorney here to speed my friends sister in states
account along, whose brother passed away one year ago, Metro dragging their feet
on that. The sister has forwarded everything to Metro, his will, her power of
attorney, IDs, but her being in states, they keep saying the case is pending and
now they are saying she must have a Surety Bond in force before they release his Dollar Account to her

That is exactly what my attorney told me when my wife and I did our wills.
Thanks for the information on this. It appears that there is a lot of confusion
on how bank accounts are handled if one account holder dies. Another thing to
think about is that your wife or partner could die before you. The ex-pat could
also run into problems getting funds from the bank. Also if the Filipino partner
owns property the ex-pat could end up with nothing. Something to think about and plan for.
The best answer I have received with my ongoing investigation into bank
accounts here came from BIR, and not the banks, banks know absolutely nothing about what happens generally to your accounts when one spouse dies. Consumer protection in Philippines far as banks go, is non-existent. The BIR told me that to avoid putting a hold on any bank account is to keep the amount at P200,000 or below either type of account singular, joint, dollar, peso, etc. This makes sense to me also and I was thinking the same thing when I talked to the BIR, the chart plainly shows no tax on P200,000 and below. So if you want your spouse to avoid getting a hold on accounts, keep them below P200,000, I guess, that could change next week.

Same with BDO

At the bottom of a BPI ATM receipt:

Not when it is done electronically over the internet as BPI allows.

True but on the withdrawal form ay BDO (I did not check other banks) you
are required to state or affirm  on joint accounts the other person is still

True, however with an or account the survivor can withdraw funds before the bank is notified of the death.

In regards to Sec. 97 of the National Internal Revenue Code (or Republic
Act No. 8424

In case of death of one of the parties of a joint account, the surviving
party cannot legally withdraw funds from the joint account until
authorization from the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. In connection
with this law as it pertains to death of one of the joint account holders,
there is no distinction between and/or joint accounts.
By way of consolation though, the law allows the administrator of the
estate or any one of the heirs to withdraw from the account not more than
P20,000 even without such certification on condition that the Commissioner
authorizes him to do so. The article below indicates that some bank
manager will look the other way, and allow more funds to be withdrawn, but don't count on it. Here's a pretty good article explaining joint accounts can be found here:

Just a note on joint accounts.
Make sure it is John or Jane Doe NOT John and Jane Doe on the account.
This way either of you can withdraw money without needing the others signature....And if you don't trust your wife enough to list the account this way then you should not be married at all.

Do not know if everyone has knowledge of this or not, I did not until I got to researching a case for a High School Friend;s sister who is claiming his dollar account here recently. General Johnny passed away in Cebu last year and his sister in states is having one hell of a time getting his proceeds from his dollar account here, even though she has his will and power of attorney. They evidently even tax a Joint Account for married couple and also insurance proceeds here. Limited funds here is the answer far as I am concerned until I find more about this matter.


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