Category Archives: Liens

Medicaid Liens: The Newest Weapon in the Ohio Estate Recovery Arsenal

By Daneen Cline

In June 2005, then Governor Taft signed House Bill 66 which resulted in the most sweeping changes the Ohio Estate Recovery program has undergone in the program’s history.

What is the Estate Recovery program and who does it affect?  It is a program that is designed to recoup monies spent by the State of Ohio for a medicaid recipient’s care from their estate. All Medicaid recipients over the age of 55 are subject to the estate recovery process.

Before the passage of House Bill 66, estate recovery was limited to only assets that passed through the probate court.  Avoiding probate effectively avoided estate recovery.

After the passage of House Bill 66, all assets of the recipient were subject to estate recovery, including accounts that passed to beneficiaries under a Payable on Death, Transfer on Death or a survivorship arrangement, property passing under a Transfer on Death or Survivorship deed, property passing under a trust agreement, as well as any Life Estate interest the recipient had in any property.

House Bill 66 also allowed the State of Ohio to place liens on the real estate of medicaid recipients, both during their life and after their death.  This is the most unsettling change because the State is not required to notify the property owners they are placing the lien on the property.

In our practice, we have had many cases where the spouse of a Medicaid recipient has placed a property on the market with the intention of downsizing, only to find that the State of Ohio has improperly placed a lien on the property.  The statute clearly states that estate recovery can not occur if the Medicaid recipient still has a living spouse.  This does not stop them from placing the liens however and the  spouse is left with only two options:  either take the property off the market and be forced to stay in a home that they may be both physically and financially unable to maintain, or to hire an attorney to contact the Attorney General and have the lien removed.

The important thing to remember if you find one of these liens on your property, is that you still have options. As stated earlier, some of these liens are improper and can be removed with the assistance of an attorney.   Others have been properly filed and are valid liens, they can however be negotiated down with the assistance of an attorney.

The best way to avoid a Medicaid lien on your property is to do some pre-planning to protect it.  A qualified Elder Law Attorney can assist you with special trusts that will protect your property in the event you end up in a long term care situation and need to apply for Medicaid assistance.

Blood from a Turnip: An Estate Recovery Case Study

By Daneen Cline


One of our clients, Janet*, entered a nursing home when she was 79 years old. She had been widowed for several years and her 2 children spent her assets on her care before applying for public benefits. When Janet passed away, she had been receiving benefits for only 7 months.

Within 3 months of her death her son received a notice from an attorney, acting as special counsel of the Ohio Attorney General. The notice stated that the State of Ohio was pursuing estate recovery of the $63,875 they had spent on Janet’s care.

Estate Recovery is the program that recovers monies spent by the State of Ohio on a person’s care. The concept is that they will pay for your care during your lifetime and then recover as much of the money back as possible from the estate after your death. Any individual who receives any form of public benefits and is over the age of 55 is subject to Estate Recovery.

Janet’s son wasn’t overly concerned, his mother’s assets had been limited to the amount in her checking account at the time of her death and a life estate interest in a home. He wrote a check for $642, the amount in her checking account, and sent it to the attorney. He didn’t think the life estate was an issue so he didn’t mention it. The Department of Job & Family Services had never considered it to be an asset so it never crossed his mind that the Ohio Attorney General would consider it to be an asset.

A few months passed, he never heard from the attorney again and he forgot about the entire episode. His sister and he listed the home for sale and it went under contract very quickly. Then the title company handling the sale called him, their title search had discovered a lien on the property. The lien had been placed by the State of Ohio for the amount of $63,233 as part of the Estate Recovery program. Janet’s son made a few phone calls and discovered that the lien was valid but that the amount the State of Ohio was actually due couldn’t exceed his mother’s life estate interest. In the end, a check was written to the State of Ohio for $31,000 at the property closing.

Had Janet’s son consulted with a qualified Elder Law Attorney when he was first notified that Estate Recovery against his mother’s estate had begun, he would have discovered that the State of Ohio now has the right to place liens on any interest a person holds in real estate at their death. He also would have discovered that these liens can usually be negotiated for a reduced amount.

The State of Ohio has led the nation in monies recovered through the Estate Recovery Program. They are very good at it and are becoming increasingly aggressive. This isn’t a program that is going to go away, so it is important to consider the ramification of estate recovery in any asset preservation plan you may have.

*(names are not real)

Keeping the Family Farm …

By Attorney Thom L. Cooper

In our practice we have a number of farm clients. A consistently high priority for these clients is making sure that the farm stays in the family. Typical characteristics of our farm clients: (1) They have worked hard all of their lives and plowed most of the profits from the farming operation back into improvements, equipment and purchasing additional ground. (2) They tend to be asset rich and cash poor. (3) They are good businessmen with respect to their farming operations. (4) They have also given a great deal of thought about how the farm should be passed to their heirs.
HOWEVER, one of the things many farmers rarely consider is the impact to the farm of a catastrophic health situation, like a nursing home stay. Many times our farmers have heard that the farm is “an exempt asset” and therefore not subject “sale” or “spend down”.
While it is true that the farm is an exempt asset if it is associated with the home, the farm is not protected from Ohio Estate Recovery Liens. Estate Recovery Liens are placed on a farm for the amount the government pays for any nursing home care or in-home medical care and related services. For example, if the farmer’s wife would go into a nursing home and the government pays $6,000 per month for four years for her care, a $288,000 lien is attached to the farmer’s property.
There are ways to avoid these liens but preplanning is essential now more than ever. If you are interested in learning more about how to make sure your farm is not subject to one of these liens and stays in your family, you are invited to come in for a free consultation where we will discuss the techniques available to save your farm.

Beware of Ohio’s New Estate Recovery Program


Last week I sat across the desk from a retired widow who was upset because recently she was unable to close on the sale of her house. She wanted to sell her home and move into her daughter’s house. She had lived alone for a number of years and felt it was safer to live where she was constantly surrounded by family. The day before the closing was scheduled she received a phone call from her mortgage broker who notified her that the house could not be sold because there was a lien placed on the title of the home. The widow was notified that the lien was placed on the home by an attorney who worked for the State of Ohio. The attorney was contracted by the state to assist the Ohio Attorney General’s office with the process of estate recovery.

The goal of the Ohio Estate Recovery program is to recover correctly paid Nursing Home or In Home Care medical benefits from the estate of the recipient. The widow’s husband was in a nursing home in greater Cincinnati for 5 years, dating back to 2000 till his death in 2005. The last 3 years of his stay was paid for through government benfits. Prior to the husband’s approval for government medical benefits it was determined by Ohio that the Widow could keep the home as a necessary protected asset.

The value of the lien totaled $176,700.00, which was placed on a home that was valued at approximately $130,500.00. I explained to the widow that the value of the lien was based solely on the amount of money that the Govermet contributed to her husband’s care. She was upset because even if she felt that even if she sold the home and gave all of the money to the State there would still be a significant amount of money that she would have to pull out of savings to eliminate the debt.

We were able to use our knowledge of the Public Benefits to assure her that the state could not recover any money owed until after her death, and therefore the current use of lien was not valid. The good news was that we contacted the attorney who issued the lien and were able to negotiate the invalid lien off the property. The widow now has a new closing date and is once again excited about her move and secure in her retirement.

Learn more about Ohio Liens

Estate Recovery Liens


In a recent review of the Ohio Records, it has come to our attention that Medicaid Estate Recovery Liens been filed against real property, in which you may have an interest! The State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has filed this lien/affidavit in an attempt to recover the Medicaid Benefits paid on behalf of the deceased.

In the past our office has been successful in resolving many of these liens to our clients’ satisfaction. Of Course, every case is different, and specific results will depend upon the specific factual and legal circumstances of each case. If you are interested in finding out more about Estate Recovery Liens we encourage you to visit our website at liens.cooperelderlaw.com.



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