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Medicaid can come after someone’s home after they die

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Most older adults qualify for Medicare when they retire. Both employment history and marriage can help people qualify for Medicaid coverage later in life. Retired adults can usually count on Medicare benefits to cover basic medical needs, including emergency medical care and routine visits with their primary care physician.

However, when older adults need long-term care support, Medicare may not cover their treatment. Those who stay at a rehabilitation center for months, who require nursing support to stay in their homes or who move into nursing homes may need Medicaid. The Virginia Medicaid program does provide long-term care benefits for older adults with support needs. Those who might eventually require Medicaid benefits need to know about the impact those benefits may have on their legacy and the people they love.

Medicaid seeks repayment for long-term care benefits

Both federal statutes and Virginia state law make it necessary for the Medicaid program to seek reimbursement for long-term care expenses. After someone dies, the state may initiate Medicaid estate recovery efforts.

Those efforts typically involve bringing a claim against someone’s estate. People generally only qualify for Medicaid when they have limited personal resources. Their home is the one valuable asset that does not automatically disqualify them from coverage. Regardless of the value of their primary residence, an older adult with limited income and limited other assets can still qualify for Medicaid.

They can retain ownership of their home and possibly even continue living there while receiving Medicaid benefits. However, the estate recovery program could make a claim against their house and any other personal assets after they die. Even if the recovery efforts leave someone’s beneficiaries with nothing, the state still demands full repayment in most cases.

Therefore, older adults in Virginia and those preparing for retirement often need to plan in advance to protect their assets and qualify for Medicaid when they need support later in life. Those who take the time to plan at least five years before they likely require benefits are in the best position. They may have an easier time preserving their assets even after they die and leaving a meaningful legacy for the people they love.

Recognizing the risk inherent in seeking Medicaid benefits might help people better plan as they prepare for retirement.