Federal law requires that all states have estate recovery laws in place, which permit states to recoup some or all of their Medicaid Long-Term Care and medical services expenditures by placing liens on the estate of the deceased Medicaid recipients. Traditionally, estate recovery focused on recouping Long-Term Care expenses and only certain medical services were subject to Washington’s estate recovery laws; the list of these services has changed several times.
Estate recovery applied to medical services provided to individuals who were over the age of 55 at the time that they received the services. Additionally, estate recovery only attaches to property that is owned by the Medicaid recipient at the time of his or her death.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, however, Medicaid programs in most states, including Washington, expanded considerably and no longer required limits on assets. As a result of these changes, many more individuals over the age of 55 who have limited income now qualify for medical coverage under the Medicaid program.
Since this group of Medicaid recipients has expanded, the fear is that Washington’s estate recovery laws may extend to not only recouping the costs of Long-Term Care that Medicaid paid for these individuals, but also any medical expenses covered by Medicaid during their lives.
There are some exceptions to the estate recovery law for collecting on liens on the homes of Medicaid recipients. If a Medicaid recipient’s spouse, child under the age of 21, or a blind or disabled child resides in the home, the state cannot collect on the lien. The state also cannot collect on the lien if the individual qualifies for a hardship deferral.
You can ask for a deferral if you are the registered domestic partner of the deceased person. You also can ask for a deferral if you are an heir of the person who died or an otherwise qualified person and recovery would deprive you of a place to live and you cannot afford to live anywhere else, or if you have limited income and the property is your only source of income.
Asset protection, Medicaid eligibility, Long-Term Care, and estate recovery laws are all complex issues that can be extremely overwhelming. At Elder Law Group PLLC, we know that making arrangements for the eventuality of aging, Long-Term Care and mental or physical incapacity can be very stressful and emotional.
Allow us to remove some of the burden from you and your family; by letting us help you create an estate plan that addresses your needs in detail, you can rest assured that your affairs are in order and simplified as much as possible. As skilled Tri-Cities asset protection lawyers, we are here to give you the legal advice about the best options that are available to meet your objectives and protect the assets that you have accrued over a lifetime.