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Cherry Hills Village

PAGE 12 | THE VILLAGER • November 26, 2020

THE LAW

ABOU

OPEN TO SERVE

FOR A FREE TELEPHONE OR VIDEO CONSULTATION, PLEASE CALL: Donald Glenn Peterson, Esq. Don Peterson Law Firm 4100 E. Mississippi Avenue, Suite 410 Denver, CO 80246

Phone: (303) 758-0999 E-Mail: Donald@PetersonLaw.co Website: www.donpetersonlawfirm.com

BY DONALD PETERSON Dear Readers,

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• Each examination room is completely enclosed • PPE standards exceeding CDC and state regulations • Daily pre-screening of all patients and employees • Daily disinfecting with a fogger machine

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How do I become a Representative Payee for Social Security benefits? (Part 1 of 2)

More than eight million people, who get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, need help managing their money. In such cases, the Social Security Administration can appoint a relative, friend, or other interested party to serve as the “Representative Payee”. Social Security thoroughly investigates those who apply to be Representative Payees to protect the interests of Social Security beneficiaries, because a Representative Payee receives the beneficiary’s payments and is given the authority to use the funds on the beneficiary’s behalf. With certain exceptions, a Representative Payee may not collect a fee for services provided to the beneficiary, unless Social Security allows it, or you are the legal Guardian or Conservator authorized by a court to charge such a fee. As a Representative Payee, you must know what the beneficiary’s needs are so you can decide the best use of the benefit payments for their care and well-being. This is especially important if the beneficiary does not live with you. Each year, Social Security will ask you to complete a form to account for the benefits you have received on behalf of the beneficiary. You can either fill out the

form and return it to Social Security, or go online at: www.social security.gov/payee to file the report. You may also be contacted by a contractor hired by Social Security to review your receipts and records of income and expenses. As a Representative Payee, you will also need to advise Social Security about changes that may affect the beneficiary’s eligibility. Such changes include if the beneficiary moves, starts or stops working, starts receiving another government benefit, gets married, or dies. It is important to remember that the law requires the Representative Payee to use the benefits properly, in the best interest of the beneficiary. If a Payee misuses benefits, they must repay the misused funds. A Payee who is convicted of misusing funds may be fined and imprisoned. It is also important to note that Social Security appoints a Representative Payee to manage Social Security and SSI funds only. A Payee has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters. A Representative Payee, however, may need to help a beneficiary get medical services or treatment. Accordingly, family members/ Representative Payees often use a General or Health Care Power of Attorney as an additional way to handle a family member’s/ beneficiary’s finances. Another option is to become a court-appointed Guardian and/or Conser-

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vator on behalf of the beneficiary. For Social Security purposes, however, a Power of Attorney is not an acceptable way to manage a person’s monthly Social Security benefits. Social Security recognizes only the use of a designated Representative Payee for handling the beneficiary’s funds. The most convenient way to conduct Social Security business at any time is to go to: www. socialsecurity.gov. If you do not have access to the internet, you may call Social Security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll free at 1-800-772-1213. More information about being a Payee is available in the Guide for Organizational Representative Payees (Publication No. 17-013), which is available at www.social security.gov/payee or from any local Social Security office. In my next article, I will cover the requirements concerning how a Representative Payee must hold and use monthly Social Security and SSI benefits on behalf of a beneficiary. What are the four key medical/estate plan documents you need now? Many of my clients have asked what are the critical documents needed, particularly in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply being married does not give you the legal right to gain access to your spouse’s medical records or make medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf, even in an emergency. To avoid this problem and to help others care for you and to achieve your overall estate planning goals, the following documents create an effective medical/estate plan package: 1. Healthcare Power of Attorney; 2. General Financial Power of Attorney; 3. Advanced Directive for Medical/Surgical Treatment (“Living Will”); and 4. Will (or a Will with a Trust). Careful medical/estate planning should include preparation and signing of these documents, to accomplish your goals and protect you, both during your lifetime, and at the time of passing. The Power of Attorney documents allow you to designate those agents whom you authorize to help you on your behalf during your lifetime, and the Will/Trust documents allow you to nominate others to help with your estate after your passing, as well as to identify the beneficiaries and the distributions to them, to accomplish your estate planning goals.