Q: The surviving parent dies while residing in a nursing home. She has been covered by Medicaid for past 4 years. The Will reads that the only child is her beneficiary. Knowing that Medicaid is entitled to some portion of the parent’s estate (less than $2,000), is Medicaid entitled to the full amount or only a share of the residual estate? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Generally, Medicaid will be entitled to a share of probate assets depending on the amount of their claim. If it is necessary to open an estate, the estate is required to notify the PA Department of Human Services (DHS), who manages the federal Medicaid program, of the death. DHS will reply to the estate with an Estate Recovery Statement of Claim, which will inform the estate how much DHS is seeking as a claim. The estate then needs to address DHS in writing regarding settling the claim or explaining with supporting documentation why the claim cannot be settled (i.e., insufficient assets), whether an estate is opened or not. If the remaining estate of this person is $2,000.00, it is doubtful Medicaid will seek a claim, but you never know. You may be able to shelter the money with a funeral related expense. I suggest you consult with an attorney regarding this matter.