Many estate planners are surprised to learn that federal law requires the state of New Jersey to collect money from the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient as repayment for any long-term care services that were provided. The best way to protect your assets and your beneficiaries from Medicaid estate recovery is to consult with an experienced trust and estate lawyer.
Located in Morristown, E.A. Goodman Law, LLC is a premier elder law and estate planning practice serving clients throughout New Jersey. We have proven strategies that can help you make the necessary legal and financial arrangements for your long-term care needs while protecting your assets from Medicaid estate recovery.
When you become our client, we will work closely with you to help you preserve your wealth and provide for your loved ones. Please contact our office for a consultation with one of our experienced Medicaid asset protection lawyers today.
What is Medicaid Estate Recovery?
Under federal and state law, the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) is required to recover funds from the estates of deceased Medicaid beneficiaries for all long-term care services received on or after the age of 55. Medicaid’s definition of long-term care includes nursing home care, in-home care, hospital and prescription drug services and any other services provided under the state’s Medicaid plan.
What Assets Are Subject to Medicaid Estate Recovery in New Jersey?
Federal regulations give the states wide latitude in administering their Medicaid estate recovery programs. While federal law requires states to pursue recovery of the probate estate of the deceased recipient at a minimum, states also have the power to pursue a broader range of assets in addition to those that pass through probate.
In New Jersey, the DMAHS has expanded the definition of estate to include any property that belonged to the deceased at the time of death, including assets conveyed to a survivor, heir or assign of the recipient through joint tenancy, tenancy in common, survivorship, life estate, living trust or another arrangement.
This means that there is a greater asset pool available for Medicaid estate recovery in New Jersey, such as the decedent’s home or share of a home, bank accounts (whether solely or jointly held), trusts, insurance policies and annuities, stocks and bonds, and any other real or personal property.
This is a particular concern to individuals and families who rely on certain types of tenancies and trust-based estate plans to avoid probate. At the same time, you should know that under New Jersey law, the term “estate” does not include:
- A life estate in which the Medicaid recipient held an interest which expired upon his or her death death
- A properly structured inter vivos trust established by a third party for the benefit of the deceased Medicaid recipient within the 5-year lookback period
- Certain testamentary trusts established within the 5-year Medicaid lookback period
Ultimately, it takes a highly skilled trust and estate lawyer to help you explore the Medicaid asset protection techniques and strategies that are available to you. When you consult with E.A.Goodman Law, LLC, you can rest assured that your assets and loved ones will be protected.
Are there any limits?
Federal regulations prohibit the DMAHS from pursuing Medicaid estate recovery under the following circumstances:
- During the lifetime of the surviving spouse, regardless of where he or she lives
- From a surviving child who is under the age of 21, or is blind or disabled, no matter where he or she lives
- There is a sibling with an equity interest who has lived in the home for at least one year before the deceased recipient’s nursing home admission, as long as the sibling has lived in the home continuously since that date
- There is a non-disabled adult child who has lived in the home for at least 2 years immediately before the deceased recipient’s admission, and who provided care that delayed the recipient’s admission to the facility, as long as the adult child has lived there continuously since that date
Also, the state may not pursue recovery against the Medicaid recipient’s estate if doing so would cause undue hardship for the survivors. The executor or estate administrator must request a consideration of undue hardship within 30 days of the notification of the Medicaid estate claim. Finally, the DMAHS may decide not to pursue estate recovery if it determines that the value of the estate is insufficient to justify the cost of recovery.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Medicaid Estate Recovery Lawyer
Because Medicaid estate recovery is complicated, and because New Jersey uses an expanded definition of estate for recovery purposes, it is crucial to have the informed representation E.A. Goodman Law, LLC provides.
When you consult with us, our experienced Medicaid asset protection attorneys will take the time to understand your financial and family circumstances and advise you about the available options to protect your assets. Please contact our office today to set up a consultation.