It is very common that a person who dies or is incapacitated receives health care and services that are paid for by government agencies in the form of Medicaid. As New York estate lawyers often encounter, a decedent who had been ill and unable to pay for his care through private insurance or personal funds probably would have had his care paid through Medicaid. Medicaid payments can cover persons who live at home or who reside in nursing homes or other facilities. Particularly where a person has had a serious illness with extensive hospitalization and nursing home stays, the expenses that are paid by Medicaid can be quite large. Under various state laws and rules, Medicaid is entitled to be reimbursed for its expenditures. This reimbursement typically occurs after a person dies if there are assets in his estate. It may be that the decedent passed away owning a home or other assets but had been receiving Medicaid coverage during his life.
It is the fiduciary obligation of an Executor or Administrator to make sure that all of the decedent’s debts and the claims against the estate are satisfied. Thus, the estate fiduciary is required to satisfy a claim for reimbursement that is asserted by the local Medicaid authority. Also, in the event the estate Executor or Administrator is aware that the decedent may have been receiving medicaid benefits, it is important to obtain information regarding this claim before distributing estate assets. Once the assets are distributed to beneficiaries, the Medicaid authority may attempt to obtain payment of the claim against the fiduciary personally and assert that the fiduciary should have known about the claim before he paid the beneficiaries. Estate settlement can be a very complicated process and the collection of assets and payment of a decedent’s debts often require the guidance of an experienced estate attorney.Similarly, when a person is incapacitated and a Guardian is appointed to handle the person’s property affairs, Medicaid may seek reimbursement from the IP’s assets. Depending upon the situation, the Medicaid authority might also discontinue coverage until the IP’s personal assets are paid down by reimbursement and payment for current care costs.
I have represented many clients in connection with estates and guardianships where the payment of a Medicaid claim was an issue presented during administration and needed to be resolved. An example of the assertion of a Medicaid claim appeared in the recent case of Matter of Miller. In Miller, the New York State office of Mental Health sought to enforce its claim against an estate in an Administrator’s accounting proceeding. The Court refused to dismiss the claim and found that there was a question of fact regarding the claim’s validity.
If you have an issue regarding an estate or guardianship accounting or are concerned regarding a claim asserted by Medicaid against an Executor, Administrator or Guardian, do not hesitate to contact a professional advisor for assistance. The issues and procedures regarding these matters can be complex and involve a significant amount of funds.
New York City probate lawyer, Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years throughout Manhattan and Queens Counties resolve issues relating to estate litigation and settlement in New York Probate proceedings. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.
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