Do I need to probate my mom’s estate?

Q: My mom passed away two years ago. She lived with me and I paid all her bills. I paid $13,000 for her funeral expenses. Recently, I received refunds from the hospital for approx. $2000 in checks for copays when my mom was paying. I helped her pay them. I didn’t probate the estate because I was told it’s insolvent and there wasn’t any need to do so. Now I have these checks made out to her name. What do I do? The $600 in her bank account was split between myself and my brother. The credit cards are still unpaid, but they were told her estate is insolvent. Where do I go from here? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: To answer your question I would need more information on the extent and type of assets and debts. The Estate Recovery program managed by the PA Department of Human Services can seek recovery of monies paid out to a Medicaid recipient, from their estate. If there no estate opened, it is doubtful if they will pursue recovery. However, they can go after other monies held in your mother’s name with others. You may want to consult with an attorney to determine if it is worth opening an estate. From what you describe, it may not be. You have no duty or obligation to open an estate.

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