Bethlehem, PA asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Social Security for Pennsylvania

Q: How do we fight dad getting moms ss benefits, when she passes away?

They've not been together since the 1970s but are still legally married. Mom can't afford to file for divorce&even if she did, there's no guarantee dad would agree to it. He doesn't deserve to receive her benefits, she doesn't want him to get them. She wants them to go to me&my disabled brother. Is there any way I can fight this or prevent it from happening due to how long they've been apart? He went on to have a whole other family after they split

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

A: I understand your concerns. In the U.S., if your parents are still legally married, your father might be eligible for certain Social Security benefits upon your mother's passing, regardless of their prolonged separation. Your mother's wishes about her benefits cannot change Social Security Administration (SSA) rules.

Divorce would be one way to prevent a spouse from claiming survivor benefits, but, as you mentioned, it may not be feasible. However, survivor benefits and inheritance are distinct. Your mother can ensure her assets, outside of SSA benefits, go to you and your brother by having a clear will or trust in place. If preventing him from accessing her Social Security benefits is a priority, consulting with legal counsel to explore all options would be wise. It's essential to understand the specific rules and your rights in this situation.

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