Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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Arnold and Vesta Melby were trustors of separate irrevocable trusts. Both Arnold and Vesta received Medicaid benefits. After the Melbys’ deaths, the Iowa Department of Human Services notified Arnold’s estate that it would seek reimbursement for all Medicaid expenses it had paid on behalf of Arnold and Vesta. The Department then filed an application in the estate seeking a judgment declaring the Melbys had interests in the corpus of their trusts that should be counted as assets available for repayment of the Department’s Medicaid claim. The district court concluded (1) the Melbys’ interests in the trusts were limited to their right to receive the net income from the trusts’ assets, and (2) the Department’s right to recover the Medicaid payments could be enforced against such income, but not against the corpus of the trusts. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Department’s right to recover Medicaid payments under the facts of this case extended beyond the Melbys’ net income interests; and (2) the district court erred in determining the scope of medical assistance for which recovery was authorized by the general assembly. Remanded.View "In re Estate of Melby" on Justia Law

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The Department of Health and Welfare appealed an order that disallowed its attempt to recover assets in a probate proceeding. The Department sought to recover assets of a dead Medicaid recipient for medical assistance payments made on the decedent's behalf from her widower. The magistrate court held that the Department could not reach the separate property of the decedent's spouse. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded the Department was permitted to seek recovery from the decedent's community property that was transmuted to her widow as his separate property. View "In re Estate of Wiggins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Pamela Mattison, gave birth to twins who were conceived by artificial insemination after their father, Jeffery Mattison, had died. She sought social security survivors' benefits for the children based on Jeffery's earnings. The Social Security Administration denied her application, and an administrative law judge affirmed that decision. Plaintiff then filed an action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan challenging the decision. That court has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on whether the children could inherit from Jeffery under Michigan intestacy law. Having heard oral argument, the Supreme Court granted the district court's request to answer the question and held that under Michigan intestacy law, plaintiff's children could not inherit from Jeffery. The matter was returned to the district court for further proceedings. View "In re Mattison v. Social Security Comm." on Justia Law

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Here the Supreme Court answered a question of Utah law certified to it by the U.S. district court. The question was, "Is a signed agreement to donate preserved sperm to the donor's wife in the event of his death sufficient to constitute 'consent in a record' to being the 'parent' of a child conceived by artificial means after the donor's death under Utah intestacy law?" In this case, after she gave birth, the wife of the donor applied for social security benefits based on the donor's earnings. The Social Security Administration denied the benefits, finding that the wife had not shown the child was the donor's "child" as defined by the Social Security Act. The wife subsequently filed a petition for adjudication of paternity, and the district court adjudicated the donor to be the father of the child. On appeal, the U.S. district court certified the state law question to the Supreme Court. The Court held that an agreement leaving preserved frozen semen to the deceased donor's wife does not, without more, confer on the donor the status of a parent for purposes of social security benefits. View "Burns v. Astrue" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a claim filed by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in the probate proceeding of George D. Perry, the deceased spouse of Medicaid recipient Martha J. Perry. The Department sought to recover funds under I.C. 56-218 from the sale of the couple’s home (their only significant asset) to recoup Medicaid benefits paid to Martha during her lifetime. The magistrate court disallowed the Department’s claim for recovery, finding that Martha had no interest in the real property because George, acting for Martha under a power of attorney, conveyed the property to himself before his death. That decision was upheld on appeal to the district court. The Department appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court found that the district court erred in finding that federal law preempted the Department's ability to recover from George's estate what was once Martha's community property during the marriage. The Court reversed the district court and remanded the case for further proceedings.View "Id. Dept. of Health & Welfare v. McCormick" on Justia Law

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Pooled Advocate Trust, Inc. (PATI), the managing corporation for a Medicaid pooled trust, brought a declaratory judgment action on Medicaid eligibility issues associated with the trust and named the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) as a necessary party. The circuit court granted declaratory judgment for PATI. Fred and Gladys Matthews transferred assets to the pooled trust. When the Matthews subsequently applied for Medicaid long-term care benefits, DSS imposed a penalty period because they were over age sixty-five at the time of the transfers. PATI petitioned for further relief, seeking a declaration that DSS could not impose penalty periods for transfers made by pooled trust beneficiaries age sixty-five or older. The circuit court granted PATI's petition. The Matthews also appealed DSS's application of a penalty period, but an ALJ upheld the decision and another circuit court affirmed. DSS appealed the circuit court's order granting PATI's petition and the Matthews appealed the other circuit court's affirmance of the ALJ's ruling. The Supreme Court affirmed the administrative appeal and reversed the declaratory judgment, holding that transfers of assets into pooled trusts by beneficiaries age sixty-five or older may be subject to a transfer penalty period for Medicaid eligibility purposes.View "In re Pooled Advocate Trust" on Justia Law

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The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provided Medicaid benefits for Virginia Lee Cushing during the final years of her life. After her death, DHHS filed a claim against Cushing's estate for recovery of the benefits pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 68-919. The personal representative of the estate appealed from an order of the county court allowing the claim and awarding interest. At issue on appeal was whether DHHS timely presented its claim and, if so, whether it was proved as a matter of law. The Supreme Court concluded the claim was both timely presented and proved as a matter of law but modified the award of interest.View "In re Estate of Cushing" on Justia Law