When a Medicaid recipient passes away, the state can recover Medicaid expenditures from the individual’s probate estate and perhaps from other assets in which the individual once had an interest. As explained in greater detail throughout SpecialNeedsNJ.com, individuals may employ various planning techniques to preserve savings and qualify for Medicid to fund long term care. For instance changing a will or title to a home and other assets may shelter assets against Medicaid estate recovery.
An unusual story in the December 26, 2011 Eagle Tribune of North Andover, Massachusettes illustrates how expensive estate recovery can be. Massachusettes courts ruled that close to $200,000 found in a safe on a vacant lot could be taken to repay Medicaid provided to the safe’s former owner. While the state may be more deserving of this money than potential claimants, like the person who dumped the safe in the lot, it seems a shame that the owner’s relatives lost so much money to Medicaid. Perhaps the moral of this story is that consulting an elder law attorney early regarding options to fund long term care may permit families to protect substantial savings and still obtain quality long term care.