In many posts, we have eluded to and discussed the basics on Medical Assistance (see: Jamie Held‘s Medical Assistance & Real Property and Jen Santini‘s Medical Assistance Basics for Minnesotans). Medical Assistance, or Medicaid as it is known, is the insurance program provided by counties to those who have no money of their own to pay for private insurance and/or long term care. In order to obtain Medicaid, one has to qualify to prove they do not have the assets or funds to pay for care. Oftentimes, those that qualify for Medicaid (and their families) tend to think that once they qualify, the county will not look to be reimbursed for the expense. This is an incorrect assumption.
Particularly, if a person owning real estate – whether alone or as a joint tenant or tenant in common – who qualifies for Medicaid, their portion of the real estate could eventually have a lien placed on it by the county with provides Medicaid services – thereby protecting the county’s interest in the real estate should it ever be sold. Basically, the County wants it share of the proceeds.
Therefore, in Minnesota, it is oftentimes required – and good practice – to obtain a clearance certificate from the county agency to ensure any real estate to be sold out of an estate is free of any medical assistance claims.
To obtain a clearance certificate, the application must state the decedent‘s name, date of birth, and Social Security number; the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of any predeceased spouse of the decedent; the names and addresses of the devisees and heirs; and the name, address, and telephone number of the petitioner or the attorney making the application on behalf of the petitioner.
Once the application is received, the county agency will determine whether the decedent or any of the decedent’s predeceased spouses received medical assistance, which could give rise to a claim by the agency. If there are no claims, the county agency will issue the petitioner a clearance for medical assistance claims stating no medical assistance claims exist. If there is a claim, the county agency will issue the petitioner a clearance for medical assistance claims stating that a claim exists and the total amount of the claim. The county agency will mail the completed clearance for medical assistance claims to the applicant within 15 working days after receiving the application without cost to the applicant or others.
Should there be a claim, then the claim will be payable, in whole or in part, from the sale of the property. The county agency may collect, compromise, or otherwise settle the claim with the estate or the assignees of the property on whatever terms and conditions are deemed appropriate.
If you have questions or concerns about obtaining a clearance certificate on a piece of property, please consult an attorney in your area.