Help for Representative Payees of Government Benefits

According to the AARP Caregiving Resource Center, there are 42 million people age 50+ in the U.S. who are caring for their parents or another older person.  We have seen our clients and friends need to assist older family members with their financial affairs.

If you have not been asked to do this yet, you most likely will in the future.  To help those in this “financial caregiver” role, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published four guides titled “Managing Someone Else’s Money” to assist these individuals.

Each guide is tailored to individuals in a specific role, and will be a valuable resource for anyone who is in the role now or will be in the future.

The four guides cover the following:

  1. People named agents under a power of attorney
  2. Those appointed by a court as a guardian or conservator
  3.  Trustees in charge of living trusts, and
  4.  Those appointed by a government agency to manage Social Security or veteran’s benefits.

Trustee over Social Security Family member Social Security PaymentsEach of the guides has three purposes:

1.  to walk caregivers through their duties,
2.  to inform them how to watch for scams and financial exploitation (and what to do if a family member becomes a victim); and
3.  to let caregivers know where they can turn for additional help.

We have discussed each guide in separate posts over the past several weeks.

The last guide of this series is titled “Help for Representative Payees and VA Fiduciaries.

An example of this function will help to understand this guide better.  Let’s start with a scenario about how you might have become a representative payee or VA fiduciary:

Your family member or friend receives Social Security or veterans benefits. For this guide, let’s call him Robert. The Social Security Administration has named you as representative payee for Robert, or the Department of Veterans Affairs has named you as Robert’s VA fiduciary.

You now have the duty and power to manage his Social Security or Veterans Affairs benefit checks.  In this role on Robert’s behalf, the federal government gives you a lot of responsibility.  You are now a fiduciary with fiduciary duties.

Like many people, you may never have been a representative payee or VA  fiduciary before. That’s why they created these pamphlets.  This guide will help you understand what you can and cannot do in your role as a representative payee or VA fiduciary. In both these roles, you are a fiduciary. For this guide, a fiduciary is anyone named to manage money or property for someone else. You will find brief tips to help you avoid problems and resources for finding more information.

This guide is for family and friends serving as a representative payee or VA fiduciary, not for professionals or organizations. The guide does not give you legal advice. State laws vary, so you may have additional duties. Talk to a competent Trust & Estate lawyer if you have questions about your duties.

If you want to learn about how to become a representative payee or VA fiduciary, this guide is not designed for you. You should contact the federal agency that pays the benefits.

The first three guides which dealt with powers of attorney, court-appointed guardians of property and conservators and help for trustees under a revocable living trust can be found here:  Power of Attorney ;Helping Someone Manage Property and Help for Trustees Under a Revocable Living Trust

To download the guide, click on the orange button below:

Help for Representative Payees of Gov’t Benefits

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About Dan Crimmins

Dan Crimmins, co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management, is a financial coach and fee only financial planner. Have a financial question? ASK DAN

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