Dear Mr. Premack: My grandma was eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, but owned property, etc. valued over $300,000. She died recently, and her Will left her estate to one granddaughter. Her only child was listed not to inherit anything and placed in a no contest clause. Who is responsible to pay for burial? Do the other grandchildren have a right to contest the will? – TSM
It is not surprising that your grandmother received Medicare benefits (most Seniors do) but with assets of over $300,000 she would have qualified for Medicaid only if her assets were non-countable (for instance, her home, personal items and an automobile). If so, now that she has died someone in the family will get a letter from MERP. The state has a legal right to present a claim as a creditor in probate court for reimbursement of the taxpayer’s expenses in caring for your grandmother under Medicaid.
The executor named in your grandmother’s Will must offer it for probate and must receive letters testamentary. Creditors will present their claims. The funeral expense is a legal claim, ultimately to be paid out of your grandmother’s assets. If someone (like her only child) already paid for the funeral that person can bring a claim for reimbursement from the estate.
Can the other grandchildren contest the Will? They must have valid legal grounds and be acting in good faith.
Paul Premack is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a Five Star Wealth Manager (Texas Monthly Magazine 2009-2013) practicing estate planning and probate law in San Antonio.
Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, April 23, 2010