We just found money. Is it subject to Medicaid recovery?


Q. My father was in a Medicaid nursing home before he died. At the time, he had sold his home and his assets were below the required threshold necessary to qualify for Medicaid. Now more than 10 years after he died, in a box of my dad’s papers, we discovered an old Certificate of Deposit that was issued in my father’s and brothers’ names. Is that subject to recovery?
— Executor

A. We’re sorry to hear about your father.

Finding that Certificate of Deposit (CD) must have been a surprise.

As you know, under both federal and New Jersey law, Medicaid is required to recover funds from the estate of an individual receiving Medicaid benefits, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

The estate consists of any property, whether in sole or joint name, that the beneficiary had any legal title or interest in at the time of his or her death, she said. This can include a residence, personal or real property, bank accounts, a living trust or other arrangement, and proceeds of life insurance policies, she said.

The funds don’t need to be probate assets, for example, they may have designated beneficiaries such as life insurance policies, Whitenack said.

“Unless there is a surviving spouse, a minor child or a surviving child of any age who is blind or disabled, Medicaid will place a lien on property after the death of the Medicaid beneficiary if the amount to be recovered is in excess of $500 and the estate is in excess of $3,000,” Whitenack said.

The personal representative of the estate of the Medicaid beneficiary — the executor or administrator — must contact Medicaid in writing to ascertain whether Medicaid has a right to recovery, she said. Then Medicaid then has 90 days from receipt of the letter to respond.

“The information provided to the Medicaid agency following the death of the reader’s father was incorrect because the Certificate of Deposit was not disclosed,” Whitenack said. “The executor or administrator of the estate is obligated to advise Medicaid of any corrections.”

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on Aug. 25, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.