Medicaid Estate Recovery

We’re back in the car and have been traveling for quite a while. We are going to take a break from our road trip today to hike in the Grand Canyon. The scenery is amazing, and the exercise will do us some good. No worries though because while we are on the trail, we will chat about Medicaid Estate Recovery as promised last week.

Will Medicaid take your house?

Although we love staying at roadside hotels and quaint bed and breakfasts along our journey, we all favor our own bed and the familiar surroundings of our own home. A person’s home is often the essence of their family and the walls contain many special memories. As we discuss Medicaid planning with our clients and their families, one of the primary concerns we hear is “will we lose our house?”   This can be a concern for a single person who wants to give their home to a family member as well as married couples where the well-spouse wants to continue living in the home. Luckily the house is an exempt asset while your loved one is receiving care, but what happens once they die?

What is Estate Recovery

After a Medicaid beneficiary who received support for long-term care services and support, either through institutional care or through home and community-based services, dies, the state is required to ask for reimbursement for any funds spent on that beneficiary’s behalf while they were alive. In other words, the federal government requires each state to attempt to recover the money it spent from the estates of all deceased Medicaid beneficiaries.

After the Medicaid recipient’s death, the state will ask the administrator or executor of the estate or the next of kin to provide information on the value of the Medicaid beneficiary’s estate. If the value of the estate is over $25,000, Medicaid will request to be paid back or even place a lien on property owned by the deceased beneficiary. The first $25,000 is exempt.  Heirs will only receive their inheritance after Medicaid is reimbursed.

Are There Any Exceptions?

You may be wondering if there are any exceptions and the answer is ‘yes’. There are limits on Georgia’s right to recover money from a beneficiary’s estate. Medicaid estate recovery will not be sought:

  • until after the death of the surviving spouse
  • if the beneficiary has a child (under age 21 or is blind or permanently disabled); and
  • if the estate is worth less than $25,000

How Can I Avoid Estate Recovery?

There are always options for avoiding Medicaid Estate Recovery, but doing so requires proactive decisions. The rules are tricky, so be sure to consult with a knowledgeable, experienced Elder Law Attorney.

WOW! What an extraordinary hike. There is nothing like the Grand Canyon to make you appreciate the beauty of nature. We enjoyed your company and your great questions about Estate Recovery. As with most Medicaid rules, it can get quite complex and every situation is different. It is certainly worth a call to Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121 to learn more. Join us next week for our next stop on our Medicaid road trip as we discuss waiver programs. You will definitely not want to miss that conversation! As always, stay safe and enjoy the journey.

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