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Do I need 'designated' bank accounts for daughters receiving survivor benefits?

My husband passed away a couple weeks ago and I've been to the SSA and completed the paperwork for benefits for my 2 daughters and myself (though I will keep working so will not receive benefits). I went to 2 banks to see about their checking and savings accounts and make sure I can manage any accounts along with my own online (to move money in and out of mine as needed for their needs).

One bank said that each of the girls' accounts cannot be tied in any way online with mine and that I cannot get a debit card for either. The second bank said we can make 2 accounts in my name with them as beneficiaries and I *can* manage them online right along with my account.

The first bank said that I'm a 'designated payee' and I felt as though I was put in the same category as an institution looking to steal from my daughters! I'm their mother, for heavens sake! I want to have the same authority of parenthood that I had *before* my husband's untimely death. We always believed, and I still do, that our job as parents doesn't end until they're 18. (it continues after that, of course)

SSA.gov is no help in explaining the 'bank account' thing. It also makes me feel like a potential criminal instead of a parent by saying I have to account for everything. OF COURSE I'm going to meet my children's needs and hopefully be able to save for them, too.

Any suggestions of where to find answers?

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I believe you're referring to what the SSA refers to as a "Representative Payee".

Here's an excerpt from their FAQ regarding bank accounts :

http://www.ssa.gov/payee/faqrep.htm

What Type of Bank Account Should I Set Up for the Beneficiary?

A checking account is better in some ways, because you will have canceled checks and/or statements that show how the funds are spent. In making the decision to use a checking account, you should consider the fact that some beneficiaries cannot maintain high enough balances to avoid service charges. But if you must pay bills through the mail, a checking account would still be cost effective because cashier's checks and money orders have charges associated with them, as well. You should set up an account that minimizes fees and enables you to keep clear records. SSA encourages interest-bearing accounts. The bank account must be titled so that it is clear that the money in the account belongs to the beneficiary.

Regarding account titling, here's an interesting report I found which indicates a third or more of all Representative Payee accounts are improperly titled :

http://www.ssa.gov/oig/ADOBEPDF/A-01-09-19055.pdf

Unfortunately, I've heard of plenty of cases where folks claim someone (ex-spouse, in-law etc.) is misusing funds that should be used for a child or disabled adult. So the SSA needs some type of accounting to help prevent these types of things.

Here's another link which may be useful :

http://socialsecurityhop.com/en/handbook/16/1616-what-are-the-responsibi...

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