Medicare + Social Security - do both honor docs prepared by an attorney?

Do Medicare + Social Security both honor documents prepared by an attorney?  I've had a Power of Attorney for Health Care and Finances + Will prepared by a licensed attorney in my state (Washington), but I'm concerned that these organizations don't honor such documents. (I'm talking about when someone 1) dies or 2) becomes incapacited.  


1) If someone dies, a funeral director reports the person’s death to Social Security (must have the deceased’s Social Security number). What else is required of my executor?  Will Medicare honor documents (such as a Will) prepared by an attorney?


2) If the person becomes incapacitated (cannot use the computer + or sign documents), what's required of my Power of Attorney? Will Medicare honor my PoA documents prepared by an attorney or do I need to sign something else from Medicare? 




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AARP Expert

@madhuri9 In response to your questions:

  • When someone dies, you can call and notify Social Security (and yes in some cases funeral direct will do so but you should definitely ask if they will do that). In my experience, Social Security then notifies Medicare and you don't have to make a separate call to Medicare (but again, always ask if they will do that or if there is anything else you need to do). Once you have notified them, there is generally nothing else you need to do, unless they ask you send a copy of the death certificate (I've never had to do this though). If the person who dies has survivors who are eligible for Social Security survivors benefits though, then you'll want to ask about how to apply for survivor's benefits and follow up.
  • In terms of your ability to manage a loved ones' Social Security, they do require their own paperowork so you can become a "representative payee" (their term). Here is the Social Security website page that explains this process, and you can also call 1-800-772-1213 to speak with someone at Social Security. In my experience they are very helpful. 
  • Medicare generally recognizes a legal power of attorney, but in some cases if you are managing a Medicare claim you may need become their "representative" . You can call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 and ask about this. 
  • FYI  - if you're caregiving for someone who is a Veteran and they become cognitively unable to manage their finances, Veterans Affairs also has their own process to appoint a "fiduciary" to manage a Veterans cash benefits (such as Aid and Attendance benefits). I was my Dad's fiduciary and, like many VA processes, it took time to get it set up. 

AARP has a lot of great information on the website at these links:

I hope this is helpful information! I'm sure our other experts and other caregivers will also have some great info to share. Let us know if you have any other specific questions. 


Hang in there - I can feel your stress - it's great you are thinking ahead about these things. You're doing your best and gathering information - feel good about that! You're a step ahead by even asking the right questions. You will handle everything. 


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones




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