What Is Medi-Cal Recovery? Tales Of Caution!

What is Medi-Cal Recovery and how can it affect your estate when you pass?


Hi, Bridget Mackay here with the Law Offices of Bridget Mackay. I do estate planning and elder law here in Petaluma, California.

And, today I want to talk about Medi-Cal recovery. So, if you are on Medi-Cal, if you’ve gotten any long-term care through the Medi-Cal program or long-term care program. They have a right when you die, or you and your spouse pass away, to recover from your estate for the monies that they spent on your care. And, that could be pretty steep. I’ve seen recovery claims anywhere from as low as $1,200 to as high as four or $500,000.

So, this is a tale of caution and another and another one. In that, I had a client call whose mother received long term Medi-Cal in a skilled nursing facility. Died and had owned a home that was left to her and her brother. But, the medical issued a recovery request for $250,000. So, unfortunately for them, there’s really not a lot they can do. Because, their mother didn’t, or they and their mother did not protect that asset prior to, or shortly after getting on Medi-Cal. At least prior to go… to their mother dying from being exposed to recovery.

The things that expose your assets or protect your assets from being recovered from Medi-Cal is if you put them into a trust or you do a life estate. An irrevocable life estate on the property. Anything that would take it out of a probate situation.

So, unfortunately in this situation, the house was still in the mother’s name. And so, Medi-Cal can recover from any assets the mother had during life.

One caveat is, and I often get this question associated with this, is if you are faced with a Medi-Cal recovery claim, would she and her brother be liable for that debt? And the answer is no. The debt is only limited to any assets that the parent had.

So, the moral of this tale of caution is… if you come to be on Medi-Cal you should contact an attorney who knows the medical benefits planning and recovering statutes and regulations. And, get a consultation to make sure you protect those assets from any recovery that occurs at your death.

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