What to Bring to The Hospital: Many of our clients and friends of the firm ask us how they can update their Wills and Trusts during these trying times. We continue to work with and advise clients remotely and can do so with you. Call us at 760-436-8832 with any questions. One question we get a lot is what should I bring to the hospital if the worst occurs. Here’s the link to one group’s very detailed take on that issue.
Dear Mr. Miller:
My Dad receives social security; but he is mentally incompetent. The social security checks are deposited to his bank account but we need to change banks as they are charging us $20 per month due to a low balance. That is eating up his $600 per month payment. He can’t do it and the Social Security Administration refuses to take instructions from me.
What can I do to preserve my Dad’s money?
Wanting to Be Helpful Daughter
Representative Payee: As you might imagine, there are a lot of folks receiving social security that cannot handle their own finances. So Social Security has a title for what you want to be and do: Representative Payee. You need to be appointed by them and there is a form that you need to complete. To do so usually requires a face to face meet at the local office.
Advance Designation: There are reportedly over 5 million representative payees. Since there is such a need for this position, the Social Security Administration has made it easier to name someone. Although this won’t help you or your Dad, one can now name (nominate) someone to that position in advance. Go to the MySocialSecurity web page to log in. Once logged in, if you are not already there, navigate to “My Home” and scroll down the page to “Advance Designation of Representative Payee.” There you can designate your choice and even designate a priority order if you have multiple choices.
Who Can Be Appointed: For those without an advance designation, Social Security will typically appoint a person who is a relative or close friend. When I was appointed for my Mom almost 20 years ago they wanted to see the physician’s report that she could not handle her own finances and the power of attorney that she had previously signed appointing me to that position. In other words, they want to feel comfortable that the person they appoint is not going to steal the money.
Common Sense Rules: There are some various common sense rules that a representative payee needs to follow such as not commingling the payment with their own money, i.e. have a separate account. Depending on the person appointed, there may be a requirement to account for the money each year, i.e. file a fairly simply financial report.
Powers of Representative Payee: All in all, being named Representative Payee should allow you to change the bank account to which they deposit the monthly payments as well as changing addresses for notices, and discussing with Social Security any issues and problems.
Opening Accompanying Bank Account: You will also, however, need to have a power of attorney for finances (and possibly the document from Social Security appointing you as the representative payee) to open the account with the new bank.
Powers of Attorney: If you don’t already have a power of attorney, this could be a problem. And this is why we advise all of our clients to have such a document. And while a bare bones version may allow you to open a bank account, it may fail to contain extraordinary powers. You can read here about Powers of Attorney, different things they can cover and why, if not done correctly, they can fail to solve other problems. For our readers who do not have a Power of Attorney, please call us at 760-436-8832 to discuss this issue.