Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers the following question: How Do We Get Amount Owed from Wisconsin Estate Recovery?
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This is Attorney Thomas Burton and today we continue our popular Question and Answer Series.
Today's question is the following: "My question is, we are dealing with the Medicaid Estate Recovery. My mom just passed away and we most likely will not be going through probate as most of her assets are either payable on death or joint, with one of her children and the balance left, will be under $50,000. So do we need to get information on the Medicaid Estate Recovery since my dad used some Title-19 funds. How do we get the amount owed, so we can pay?"
Great question. I'm sorry to hear about your mom passing but you're correct here to identify that if your dad received Title-19 benefits, which for other viewers Title-19 is the Federal Program that gets money to the States what we commonly refer to as Medicaid benefits in Wisconsin and there's also multiple names in Wisconsin by which those Medicaid benefits get to people like the community options program, the long-term care program which is nursing home care etc. but this viewer is basically saying, the mom passed away but they know her father received Medicaid benefits. So Medicaid will have a claim on the estate likely for the value of the benefits the father received and she's asking "How do we get the amount owed so we can pay?", so, you bring up here that you likely don't need to go through a probate, through the probate process there is a form you would file to inform Medicaid of their death, to give notice just like you would give notice to other creditors but if you have a balance under $50,000, there's a small estate method in Wisconsin called the Transfer by Affidavit which can be used on an estate when all probate assets are $50,000 or less. So you mentioned here some of the assets are going to pass payable on death or joint, so those are excluded from probate, if they're properly set up that way but if you have a remaining balance of $50,000 or less which you mentioned that figure here, the balance off will be under $50,000, you can use the transfer by affidavit process and part of that process before you can use the transfer by affidavit, what it is is it's a simplified, less complex probate process for small estate. The legislature basically has recognized that below a certain level of assets, opening a full formal or informal probate proceeding is expensive because generally, people hire an attorney to help and you have the probate court costs and fees and so $50,000 is the level the legislature has set, for the small estate transfer method which we call transfer by affidavit but as part of it, before you can transfer any assets under a transfer by affidavit, it will ask you questions about the person who died and their spouse and if they ever received Medicaid benefits, in this case you mentioned Title-19, so you would answer it and you said you are aware your father has, so you would check that box saying yes and then you need to send the affidavit to the department of health services estate recovery program via certified mail return receipt requested. They will then have notice and they can provide you with a claim letter listing the amount of the claim. So be aware if you use that small estate transfer by affidavit, you must send notice, they would then have notice to send you the amount of the claim and you have to send them the notice and have proof before you could present the transfer by affidavit to the bank or financial institution to transfer those assets you mentioned.
So in your situation, I would sit down with a qualified attorney and discuss this in depth about which assets you're looking at transferring under the transfer by affidavit and that attorney can also explain to you exactly how this notice process works with the state of Wisconsin because be aware that, the claim could be for more than just the amount transferring under the transfer by affidavit. I don't know how long your father received benefits but it could be larger than that amount. So I would sit down with an attorney to discuss it and they could help you process the form to complete the transfer by affidavit and send notice to the State of Wisconsin.
If you want more information about how the estate recovery program works, if you go to dhs.wisconsin.gov, they have a whole page on there that explains their process.
So excellent job knowing that, that Title 19 triggers that notice requirement for you and again, you can do it under the transfer by affidavit but you need to provide notice to the State of Wisconsin department of health services estate recovery program.
Excellent question and thank you for asking and if you have a question that's similar, you can submit it to be featured on an upcoming episode on our YouTube Channel and we'll review it and try to get to it in the future.
Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.
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