Is Your Spouse Prepared If You Should Die First?

Is Your Spouse Prepared If You Should Die First?
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The death of a loved one is a tumultuous life transition. To prevent their spouses from suffering the consequences of being unprepared when dealing with the numerous details associated with a loved one's passing, MOAA members are encouraged to understand the tools and subject-matter experts available to them.

MOAA is aware of the limited assistance provided to military retirees and surviving spouses in these situations. Many military bases have Retiree Activity Offices (RAOs) that do their very best to assist. However, these facilities are staffed mainly by volunteers and are severely under-resourced. In these austere times, improvements to RAO services are unlikely. Additionally, many survivors do not reside anywhere near a military installation.

Here are several MOAA resources that can help:

Member Service Center: The Member Service Center, (800) 234-MOAA (6622), is staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time with dedicated professionals who have an affinity for assisting the military community. They have been expertly trained to provide or pursue answers to the wide array of questions. If our member service representatives cannot adequately address an issue, they will connect a member or survivor to one of two staff subject-matter experts. These retired military officers possess a combined 50 years of active duty service and have gained in their post-military experience expertise and accreditation as financial and benefits counselors and educators. They routinely advise MOAA members on the full range of military and federal benefits - TRICARE, Medicare and TRICARE For Life, Social Security, VA benefits, and the Survivor Benefit Program, to name a few.

Publications and Guides: MOAA has an array of publications designed to assist paid members and their survivors. Most publications can be accessed online. Copies of printed publications can be obtained via U.S. mail by calling the Member Service Center.

The following publications pertain to military survivor issues:

  • Help Your Survivors Now: A Guide to Planning Ahead. This guide can help you prepare, make decisions, and ease the financial, medical, and property transition for your family after you're gone.
  • Survivor's Planning Guide. Following the death of a loved one, it can be overwhelming to keep track of what arrangements need to be made, who needs to be contacted, and notes on important phone calls. Designed by surviving spouses, this handbook is intended to help you do just that.
  • Survivor's Checklist: First Steps for Moving On. Keep this essential checklist on hand to refer to when dealing with a death in the family.
  • Your Guide to Military Burials. Use this resource for planning and decision-making regarding military burials and rights and to create a plan for the future.

The other publications in MOAA's library include topics such as personal finance, military benefits, transition, spouse and family, and MOAA chapters. The most popular publications include Aging Into Medicare and TRICARE For Life and Survivor Benefit Plan: Security for Your Survivors.

Surviving Spouse Membership: Finally, MOAA will transfer a member's Life Membership into a Surviving Spouse Life Membership for the surviving spouse or the remaining time of a premium membership into a Surviving Spouse Premium Membership. Additionally, we invite all survivors to join our Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter, which provides a common space for surviving spouses across the country to connect with one another and communicate about challenges of adjusting to a new life and the resources available. You can reach out to this virtual chapter by emailing

Survivors also might be interested in joining a local MOAA chapter. Local chapters frequently can provide assistance with issues members and survivors face or offer some like-minded camaraderie. Locate your nearest local MOAA chapter.

About the Author

Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret)
Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret)

Frost co-leads MOAA's Financial and Benefits Education program and is also an accredited Veteran Service Officer (VSO), providing VA disability compensation claim and appeal information and advice to the military community.