How to Avoid Losing an Inheritance to a Florida Medicaid Claim

In Florida Probate Tips by Long

Probate in Florida requires that any probate administration for a decedent who was 55 years or older must include specific notice to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) whether or not the heirs are aware of a potential Medicaid claim. Medicaid claims are considered to be “Class 3” claims which essentially means, they have very high priority and must be paid before many other creditors or beneficiaries receive distributions.

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a federally subsidized, state administered medical coverage program for low income families. In order to qualify, you must be below certain income and asset levels and it is often an arduous process.

Those persons who do qualify for Florida Medicaid will then receive assistance from the State of Florida for health care that they otherwise could not afford.

Do NOT confuse Medicaid with MediCARE.

A few other points to consider:

  • Your Homestead is protected from Medicaid claims even during probate administration
  • If more than 2 years have passed since the decedent died, Medicaid claims are barred (unenforceable)
  • Medicaid is not the ONLY form of State assistance that may make a claim on an estate

Medicaid Claims Process (Recovery) Against Probate Cases

In a probate administration, AHCA must be notified of any open probate matters but often files claims before a notice is even filed. Once filed, your attorney must make a determination as to the validity or enforceability of the claim against the assets.

What You Should Know BEFORE Starting Probate

Medicaid claims are often HIGH DOLLAR claims. Keep this in mind BEFORE starting probate! If it has been less than 2 years since date of death when you open probate, if a Medicaid claim is filed and assets are available, the estate assets (other than protected property) may be wiped out.

Talk to a Florida Probate attorney BEFORE filing probate to avoid Medicaid or any other creditor from wiping out the estate.

image credit: