I often respond to questions related to my firm's practice areas…wills, trusts, estate planning, business law, and real estate...on Avvo.com. I am sharing some of these answers on my blog for the benefit of my readers and clients.
Below is a recent question that I responded to on Avvo:
Can a husband collect an IRA from his deceased wife if she was under state medical assistance without the state taking it?
A man passed away and left his sister an IRA. She lived longer than he did and was never informed after his death that he left her money. Family apparently lost the Will. She now has recently passed and her living husband received a letter recently stating that an IRA is left in her name. In her later years, she became ill and was under full state medical assistance, while at home and in nursing homes. Her living husband would like to collect on this IRA but is careful and hesitant because he is worried that the state will take and/or collect it. Can he cash in this IRA without any repercussions from the state?
Attorney Thomas B. Burton Response:
There are many specific facts and dates that must be discovered and considered to answer this question accurately and it is beyond the scope of the specifics listed in this question. I recommend that the husband consult with a qualified local elder law attorney who is familiar with Medicaid rules and the Estate Recovery procedures of the WI Dept. of Health Services, including the changes implemented in the summer of 2014. Husband should consider whether he has ever received a notice from the Dept. of Health Services stating a claim for repayment of medical assistance. He should also evaluate, with the assistance of an attorney, whether that claim applies to a IRA that was not yet paid to his deceased wife before her death. The answer to this question may depend on how much time passed between the date of the wife's death, and the date of the discovery of the IRA etc. Whether or not a probate estate was every opened may also factor in to this discussion. I am changing this topic to "Medicaid" to also more accurately represent the subject matter of this question.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. You should seek a consultation with a licensed attorney in your area if you seek a complete review and discussion of your situation.