When having the difficult discussions about planning ahead for funeral services and the end of life, don’t forget to take time to seek pre-need eligibility determination to be buried in one of the VA’s 155 national cemeteries.

Pre-qualifying ahead of time through the application process will save family and others from having to establish eligibility while also grieving. Planning ahead also helps to ensure your wishes are fulfilled after death.

The pre-qualification application does not apply for burial or inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery or the United States Soldiers and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, which have their own separate processes.

To apply for pre-eligibility at a VA national cemetery, visit va.gov/find-forms and search for VA Form 40-1007.

Veterans who did not receive a dishonorable discharge are eligible. So too, are service members who died on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty for training. A veteran’s spouse or a child under the age of 18 are also eligible, even if the veteran died first. Sometimes, a veteran’s adult dependent child is eligible for burial with proper supporting documents about the child’s disability.

Be sure to express a preference for which VA national cemetery the burial rights are being sought.

To apply, you will need the veteran’s social security number, date and place of birth, and the military service history and status to include dates of service, discharge character, and rank that are often found on discharge papers like a DD214. There are ways to request discharge papers if you do not have them through the National Personnel Records website.

You will need documents showing you have the legal authority to apply for another person if not applying for yourself. You can also appoint an organization like DAV to act as your representative in filing for such benefits by filling out VA Form 21-22.

People who have pre-need eligibility, or their funeral director, may plan a burial by calling the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117.

Make an appointment for yourself or your family to apply for the pre-need eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery. This is by far one of the best ways to ensure your final requests are honored, and to care for your family after you are gone.