Can I include social security benefits in my estate plan?
Social Security benefits are designed to help people with disabilities, widows, and widowers. While Social Security benefits are often overlooked in estate plans, it's important that these benefits are protected in the event that a recipient is unable to make decisions on his or her own.
It's important to first point out that your power of attorney can only manage your estate plan, but not your Social Security benefits. In order to designate a representative payee, you must contact the Social Security Administration.
How can I protect Social Security benefits in my estate plan?
According to Forbes, a law was passed in 2018 allowing recipients to utilize the "advance designation of a representative payee" feature. Here is how the process works:
- You must first contact the Social Security Administration
- Choose up to three designee
- Rank each designee in order of priority
Each designee will have the power to receive money on your behalf. They must then:
- Use the money to pay for your needs
- File a report each year showing how the money was spent
- Keep receipts and records, and produce them when requested by the Social Security Administration
What if a designee isn't chosen in advance?
If you do not choose a designee and become incapacitated, then the Social Security Administration will need to choose a representative payee on your behalf to manage your Social Security benefits. A family member may be appointed as a representative payee, or can apply to become one.
Why hire an attorney to help me with my estate plan?
Estate planning is an essential, yet complicated, process. Most people simply don't know where to start and don't fully understand how the process works. Consulting with an experienced Arizona estate planning attorney is a good start.
Your Social Security benefits are only one key part of your estate plan. You will also need to manage your financial assets, property, and health wishes. In addition, you will need to choose the right beneficiaries and power of attorney to receive or manage assets on your behalf.
The attorneys at the Law Firm of Brown & Jensen can guide you through this complex process. Our team has the legal knowledge and resources to help you establish an estate plan that best suits your needs.
We have law offices in Mesa, Tucson, and Scottsdale, Arizona. To get started, contact us online and schedule your free consultation. You can also call us at 866-867-3987.