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Are we liable to pay back medicaid for my father in laws medical bills?

Gainesville, TX |

two years ago my father in law died. He was in a nursing home and received ssi, medicare, and medicaid. A year after he died, the 4 children sold the homestead for $31,000. They split it 4 ways. My husband was executor of the will and saw to it that all of the debts were paid off first. Yesterday, we got a letter from medicaid saying that we need to reimburse them with the $31,000. (of which we only got $7,750). We wouldn't have given that money out or spent it if we had known we were going to have to pay this, and my husbands' siblings are in no position to pay their portions back. Is there a way we will not have to pay this? Or, if not, will my husband be sued for the entire amount since he was the executor???

Attorney Answers 1


The Bad news. This is happening a lot. People with no assets other than their home apply for medicaid to cover nursing home care. Medicaid fronts the money with the idea that the person might return home some day. The caveat is that if they die, medicaid will try to recover from the estate, in most cases by levying against the house. That is why the house is an exempt asset for purposes of medicaid eligibility. This is also why medicaid has a lookback period (5 years now) for asset transfers for people who try to gift their house to others as a means of protecting it prior to nursing care.

The Really Bad News. Medicaid can go back and collect from the estate and void transfers from the estate deemed fraudlent and this would be one of them. I am not saying that you intended to commit a fraud, just that medicaid wants the asset and views any transfer that defeats their interest as a fraud. On March 1, 2005, Texas implemented the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program in compliance with federal Medicaid laws. They can try to get the $31K and since your husband was the executor, he's on the hook.

The Good News. You may be able to file a hardship waiver. Although you don't appear to meet most of the conditions for such a waiver, one provision is for "other compelling reasons".

I would suggest you engage an attorney at once and bill your relatives in 25% shares. Kicking in a little bit to batte this is better than a clawback suit down the road that strips it all away.

As FYI, here is the Texas info page:

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