Category Archives: Estate Recovery

Don’t Lose the Farm

By Thom Cooper & Melissa Reynard

LIEN Farm.jpgMost farmers love their farms. It is a slice of country life that most city folks can’t understand. Many times, the farm was passed down through the family and most farm families want that to continue to their children. What is unthinkable is that the farm could be lost to a catastrophic health care situation with a long nursing home stay.

Couples do not lose their homes if one of them goes into a nursing home and the State pays the bill. However, if one spouse is in the nursing home and the other is at home, the state of Ohio will place a lien against the property to pay back the state’s investment in their care. The healthier spouse is allowed to live there and is not forced to sell. Nothing happens until one of them dies. But, the rules are different if your is worth over 536k. At that point, you can be forced to sell or refinance in order to cover nursing home costs, even if you are married and still living in the home place on the farm- that can mean losing the farm.

So what does this mean for Ohio farmers? You may feel that you don’t own much. Maybe you’ve got a small emergency fund in the bank and not a lot more. However, if you own a substantial amount of acreage in your name, you may need to do some planning if you intend to keep it for your family when you are gone. You may not feel the land is worth that much, but with land prices rising, you might be surprised how valuable it is today. Come talk to us at Cooper, Adel & Associates to see how you can protect your land and keep your farm in the family.

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Ohio Medicaid Estate Recovery: What assets can be recovered by the State?

 

By Jess LoPiccolo

 

Working at an Ohio elder law attorney's Office, and dealing with Medicaid Estate Recovery, I see and learn a lot. Yesterday, one of our attorneys settled a case with the State that saved our client over half of what the State proposed they pay. Today, we took on a new case in which the State is asking the family to pay $77,000 to pay off an estate recover lien on a property. 

 

I should probably fill you in a little bit about what Medicaid Estate Recovery is. It is the when the State of Ohio tries to recover monies that were paid out for the long term care of individuals by Medicaid. The State can recover any asset that is in the decedent’s name at the time of their death. If you know anything about Medicaid, you would know that to be eligible for Medicaid, your resources must be below $1,500, so you might assume that the State won't be able to collect too much money back, but you would assume wrong. When there is property involved, it needs to be set up by an attorney who specializes in Elder Law. 

 

Whether you are trying to pre-plan to avoid estate recovery or you have received a letter from the Ohio Attorney General's office demanding payment, here at Cooper, Adel & Associates, we have an attorney who can help you determine the options that may help your particular situation.

 

Ohio’s Medicaid Estate Recovery: An Unlimited Statute of Limitations

By Attorney Dan Vu

If a creditor believes that you owe them a debt of some kind, you would expect that at some point the creditor would have to contact you and demand payment. In fact, as commonly understood, the creditor would have to do that within a number of years or the statute of limitations would run. Unfortunately, when it comes to Ohio’s Medicaid Estate Recovery, this rule does not applies. Medicaid Estate Recovery is the program administered by the Ohio Attorney General to collect assets left to the Medicaid recipient’s beneficiaries.

In the recently decided case, In Re Centorbi (May, 2011), the Ohio Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling that limited the State from initiating recovery after a one-year period from the date the Medicaid recipient dies. Instead, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the State could initiate recovery at any time after one-year from the date of death, so long as the person responsible for the estate has not filed the appropriate forms. Once the forms are then filed, the State still has one-year to collect; if that one-year period has run, the State has an additional 90 days.

Since many beneficiaries do not even know a debt is due, these forms are rarely filed without the urging of a knowledgeable attorney. The impact of this is that the State can, at anytime – even decades after the death of a Medicaid recipient – pursue the beneficiaries of the estate for what they received. With this potentially unlimited statute of limitations on Medicaid Estate Recovery, the State of Ohio has truly become one of the most aggressive estate recovery states.

 

Can My Parents Keep Their Home If They Have To Go Into A Nursing Facility?

By Jordan Myers

The simple answer to this question is, “yes”. However, If you have spent any time at all helping your parents plan for the unfortunate event that they might have to enter a nursing home, you know that “simplicity” is a luxury not often afforded in this situation. In today’s blog, I will elaborate on some of the restrictions that you must keep in mind when planning for you parents, or yourself, to enter a long-term care facility.

To pass the “asset test” for qualifying for Medicaid in Ohio an individual must have less than $1,500 in assets. The primary place of residence and one car are exempted from making this determination. If only one parent is going into a care facility then the other can remain in the home, but not free and clear. Any individual that receives Medicaid assistance is subject to Estate Recovery.

Estate Recovery is a program through the Office of the Attorney General that attempts to recoup any cost associated with providing Medicaid assistance at the time of the recipient’s death. The restriction with Estate Recovery is that the liens can be placed for no more than the amount spent on the individual’s care. With the rising costs of health care, a one to two year stay in a facility can deplete the majority, if not all, of the value of the home!

In the scenario where a parent’s spouse has pre-deceased them and there are no dependents, the home will then be considered to be a “countable” asset. This means that the equity in the home must be used to pay for the homeowner’s healthcare costs. The Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) does, however, allow each Medicaid recipient a 13-month “right to return home” in which the home cannot be considered a countable resource.

There are many complex scenarios and restrictions on the treatment of the home for Medicaid purposes, and many strategic plans that can be used to protect the parent’s home and the family’s heirs. The best way to discuss your specific scenario and develop the best overall plan is to meet with the experienced staff of Elder Law Attorneys at Cooper Adel & Associates. Call today to schedule your FREE consultation.

As always, remember that it is better to look ahead with preparedness than to look back with regret!

 

Ohio’s Medicaid Estate Recovery NOTICE: THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT ON A DEBT

By Attorney Daniel Vu

You have always paid your bills on time. Never made a late payment. Never even kept a large balance on your credit cards. Yet, you, like many other Ohioans, receive a threatening collection letter from the Ohio Attorney General for the purpose of collecting on a Medicaid debt owed to the State. No, not your Medicaid debt, but a debt owed by a loved one’s Estate. Perhaps your late father or grandfather stayed in a nursing home before he passed away. During that stay, he qualified for Medicaid benefits but now that he has passed, the State has come to collect. But from whom? The Attorney General, through a Special Counsel they appointed, is collecting from you, the potential beneficiary of a Medicaid recipient’s estate. So whether or not you received an inheritance, the collection notice was still sent to you demanding information and/or payment.

These overly intimidating collection notices serve only to scare family members. They usually state boldly “YOU MUST REPLY WITHIN 10 DAYS.” Some letters state “failure to respond may result in legal action being taken against you.” Others state that “this is a collection notice” or that “this is an attempt to collect on a debt.” Do you provide more information than they are entitled to receive? Worse, are you duped into paying them more than what should be paid? Too often the answer to both the questions is, yes.  And who can blame you when the notices make blatantly ominous threats.

In the past decade the State has become more aggressive than ever before. The decision to allow the Attorney General to appoint private collection attorneys to act as Special Counsel has only made this worse. Now, private collection attorneys, acting as Special Counsel, with the incentive of commission from anything they collect, are treating ordinary Ohioans like the debtors they have been used to dealing with. In fairness, the high-pressure tactics of some of these Special Counsel attorneys are only a reflection of the State’s need to solve a budget problem.  However, the unfortunate result is that I have seen clients who have grossly overpaid the State because they been unnecessarily stressed and intimidated. So, if you receive a notice from the State, take a deep breath, then find an experienced elder law attorney to help you.

What Do I Do If I Receive a Letter from the Attorney General Demanding Payment for My Parent’s Nursing Home Bill?

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)

The 800-Pound Piano: Medicaid Estate Recovery in Ohio

By Dan Vu

As the attorney handling our firm’s estate recovery cases, I am often asked, “How long does the State have to collect on my parent’s estate?” or “Isn’t there a statute of limitations for the State to recover these assets?” The answer will many times surprise them. The Ohio Attorney General, who administers Ohio’s estate recovery, has maintained that they have no statute of limitations and that they can collect on a parent’s non-probate estate FOREVER.  And for those of you who have seen the movie The Sandlot, I am sure you mouthed that slowly with me.  Yes, forever. The Ohio Attorney General argues that even ten years after a Medicaid recipient has passed away, the State could recover from the beneficiaries any amount distributed to them from the Medicaid recipient’s estate.

To make a clarification, this is for the Medicaid recipients NON-probate estate. For their probate estate, there is a definite time period for the Attorney General to submit a claim. For assets in probate court, the Attorney General must make a claim or lose their claim against those assets. However, for those who have had some estate planning done, most if not all of their assets avoid probate. This is done for many good reasons. On the other hand, this places an 800-pound piano hanging over the beneficiaries’ heads forever. This strikes most people as patently unfair. And in my opinion, it is unfair. For the rest of us, we have a certain time period to settle on our affairs. For example, if you hit my car and I wait 10 years to sue you, I will be laughed out of court! But for the Ohio Attorney General, when they sue a beneficiary years after the Medicaid recipient has passed, the only one laughing will be the Attorney General.

All of this can be upsetting, but don’t stop reading. There is some good news! The trend in Ohio has been to rectify these unfair and unjust laws that allow the State to collect on a debt indefinitely.  The Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 390. This bill set a statute of limitations for the Ohio Attorney General to collect on certain tax debts. This was a major blow to the Ohio Attorney General’s revenue recovery office. No longer could the Ohio Attorney General wait 10 years before making its first attempt to collect on an alleged tax debt. The same needs to happen for Ohio’s Medicaid Estate Recovery Program. But if this does not occur because of legislative action, the courts may be doing it themselves.

In the Eight Appellate District in Ohio, the Ohio Attorney General has recently lost a very important case. In this case, In re Estate of Centorbi, the Court held that the Ohio Attorney General has one year to present an estate recovery claim. That means the Ohio Attorney General must send out a letter notifying the beneficiaries of its Medicaid recovery claim within one year of the Medicaid recipient’s death. This is a major victory for beneficiaries. No longer will they be blind sided by a Medicaid claim years after the Medicaid recipient has passed. Of course this is not a full victory yet. This ruling is only binding in the Eight Appellate District of Ohio. It certainly is a persuasive precedent in other districts, but each district will have the final say until the Ohio Supreme Court ways in. In light of this, I personally asked the Assistant Attorney General managing Ohio’s Estate Recovery Program whether he would willing to abide by that ruling elsewhere in Ohio. Surprise, the answer was … NO! Furthermore, this ruling is not a complete victory because it does not address the fact that the Attorney General still has forever collect on a claim once it is timely made. So Ohio still has a lot further to go in this regards. But the trend has started in both the legislature and in the courts. Lets hope it continues.

If you receive a letter from the Ohio Attorney General, call our office for a free consultation.

What Are Medicaid Estate Recovery Liens?


Estate recover is a program by the state where liens are placed on the homes, and real estate for medical bills that the state pays for nursing home or in-home care situations. Attorney Mitch Adel explains in-depth detail on estate recovery.

Exempt vs. Protected Assets


Often people believe assets are protected when they are not. Just because a property may be exempt from a nursing home spend down, that doesn’t mean its protected. Estate Recovery is the states way of coming back after peoples properties or assets, after a public benefit recipient has passed away. Estate Recovery can come back for the amount of whatever the state paid including at home benefits, passport and Hospice.

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)



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