Medicaid Estate Recovery

When a person dies and was a recipient of Medicaid assistance, Medicaid may have a claim against the estate for any amounts spent on behalf of the recipient. This claim is called a Medicaid Estate Recovery. Medicaid can recover against an estate if it has a valid claim. The deceased person could have died either with or without a will. It is important for any Miami-Dade County, Broward County or West Palm Beach County resident to have a good attorney when handling the deceased person’s estate. Medicaid serves approximately 3.19 million people in Florida, with more than 1 million of recipients being aged 21 years or older. An attorney can take steps to ensure that the Medicaid claim has been paid, before distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Medicaid’s claim against and estate will include all payments made by Medicaid for services or goods when the recipient was age 55 years or over. Payment of benefits for a person under the age of 55 years does not create a debt. Florida Statutes requires that the attorney or personal representative of any estate in which the decedent at the time of death was 55 years of age or older, promptly send a notice and a copy of the death certificate to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Once received, ACS (Affiliated Computer Services) will determine whether Medicaid provided any medical assistance and, if so, file a claim with the probate court. The claim will state the amount owed. The Clerk of Court then forwards a copy of the claim to the estate attorney or personal representative.

Assets that are not exempt are used to pay the expenses of administration and other obligations of the decedent’s estate. First, the expenses of administering the estate such as filing fees and attorney fees are paid. Second, the estate may pay for funeral and burial expenses, not to exceed $6,000. After these are paid, the Medicaid claim must be satisfied before any lower-class creditors or heirs receive any non-exempt assets or money.

Heirs of an estate may wonder if the house will have to be sold to satisfy the claims of Medicaid. In general, if the Medicaid recipient owned the home as the primary place of residence and it passes to his or her relatives, a judge would likely declare it to be “homestead protected from creditors.” If so, then Medicaid, or any other creditor, cannot force its sale. If however, any real property is not “homestead protected,” it may need to be sold to pay Medicaid.

An estate may be protected from a Medicaid Estate Recovery claim if the deceased person has a spouse still living, a child younger than 21 years old, or a child who has been determined by the Social Security Administration to be blind or permanently and totally disabled. In some cases, Medicaid may waive recovery, or reduce the amount of the claim if it is believed that recovery would create a hardship. If someone depending on the deceased person’s estate may be deprived of food, clothing, shelter, or medical care necessary for the maintenance of life or health the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration may reduce or dismiss the claim against the estate.

If you or someone you know has an issue regarding a Medicaid Estate Recovery claim or you would like the assistance of an experienced attorney to help with the probate process please do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Chepenik Trushin. The experienced team at Chepenik Trushin is ready, willing and able to assist in all matters of probate administration and litigation. Please feel free to contact us for an initial consultation.

Resources:
Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, www.flmedicaidplrecovey.com, 2011