Greensboro, NC -- You've heard the saying - there are only two things for sure in life: death and taxes. But it seems there's a third - a bill from Medicaid - even after you die.
A WFMY News 2 viewer found a Medicaid bill in her mailbox after her mom died. Medicaid wanted her mom's estate to pay $29,000 for care she received.
We checked - it's called the Estate Recovery Program. It's required by federal law since 1993. It allows Medicaid to bill your estate for nursing home care, and when I say estate I mean a house or car.
This came as a surprise to our viewer. But when her mom signed up for Medicaid, her mom was told about it. But the daughter didn't know. And we thought you might not either.
You might think once Medicaid is paying, it's a done deal. But estate planning attorney Sue Hunt says, "Even though these assets are exempt for qualification for Medicaid, it doesn't mean they're not recoverable later on."
Here's the good news for all you sons and daughters out there. Medicaid will not try to collect the bill from heirs - so you are not responsible for the debt. And here's something else to keep in mind: Medicaid will let you pay off your parent's mortgage and taxes first, but what's left could be Medicaid's, not yours.
Sue says, "I actually hear that quite often. That Medicaid is to be used for all medical. That all assets are supposed to preserved for the family. That's not the plan."
Figuring out how to pay for your family's care as they get older - it's complicated. Consider sitting down with a financial planner and an estate planner. You can do it for one hour - alot of times for free.
Medicaid Estate Recovery Program Primer
WFMY News 2