New London, MN asked in Estate Planning and Social Security for Minnesota

Q: Can Social Security Survivor Benefits be paid into a trust?

My Brother is currently in hospice and his minor child will be eligible for SS Survivor Benefits after he passes. We wish to protect these benefits from the minor child's mother who has a history of not having minor child's best interests in mind when it comes to the support she has received over the years. My brother and child's mother were never married. I currently have POA and am designated as executor of my brother's will and would expect to be in charge of trust so the benefit would be used in the best interest of the child. We are in Minnesota.

2 Lawyer Answers
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: Social Security pays children's benefits to a representative payee, an adult who is deemed responsible for handling the monthly payments. A representative payee may be a parent, relative, guardian or friend of the family. Social Security requires the payee to file an annual report of how the money was spent on behalf of the child. If there is no relative or friend available to act as a representative payee, Social Security directs the funds to a social service agency that can act in this capacity.

If you believe the child's mother would be an untrustworthy representative payee, you might try applying to be the representative payee ahead of her, but be prepared to make the case for why you would be a better choice than the mother. Remember, the SSA does not know you or the mother so it is up to you to explain the situation in a persuasive manner.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Yes, Social Security Survivor Benefits can generally be paid into a trust for the minor child's benefit, with a trustee managing the funds to ensure they are used in the child's best interest. Consult with a legal professional in Minnesota to establish an appropriate trust structure that complies with state laws and meets the specific needs of your brother's child.

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