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What Role Does a Representative Payee Play in Estate Planning?

The Social Security Administration defines a representative payee as a person or entity that is designated to manage or receive supplemental security income or social security income payments on behalf of a beneficiary.

This is usually associated with those recipients of government benefits who are not able to manage their own income. Representative payees are formally appointed by the Social Security Administration based on an application.

More often than not this is a family member of the beneficiary but it can also be an organization. The beneficiary’s current personal needs should be the chief factor in determining the representative payee. This same person who also serves as trustee of a beneficiary’s special needs trust or the beneficiary’s agent under a power of attorney can also become the representative payee.

The representative payee has to do a number of different tasks associated with managing these benefits, including the opening and managing of a joint bank account as a representative payee in the beneficiary’s name. Having these additional estate planning documents in place can help to draw the connection between the role that the representative payee plays for the beneficiary and can enable this party to make important financial decisions on behalf of a party who is otherwise unable to do so on their own.

For more questions about the estate planning documents needed when you have a loved one with special needs in your family, set up a time to speak with an estate planning lawyer.       

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