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Court Decides of the Dept. of Social Services can Make a Claim on Estate


In a probate proceeding, the issue presented in court by the executrix is the validity of the full amount claim against the estate by the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS) granted by the probate court only up to the amount that would prejudice a specific bequest in favour of a legatee in decedent’s will.

The decedent and his wife have to children, one of whom is severely mentally disabled. Decedent made a declaration to the refusal of making his resources available to the medical expenses of his mentally disabled child. Decedent also executed a power of attorney, in behalf said child, appointing the Nassau County DSS of the child’s right to seek support from him. A New York Probate Lawyer said the decedent’s wife, who had an Alzheimer’s disease, was placed in a nursing home and received Medicaid benefits making the decedent a “community spouse.”

Upon death of the decedent, his will was submitted for probate. The will provided that the residuary estate is given to the surviving wife in a special needs trust and that, upon her death, the remainder of the trust shall be distributed in specific bequests among the contingent legatees. A Westchester County Probate Lawyer said a bequest was given to the disabled child in a special need trust for his benefit. A guardian ad litem was appointed, in behalf the surviving wife, who was ordered to exercise the wife’s right of election against decedent’s estate. Prior to the exercise of such right, the surviving spouse died.

DSS filed a claim against decedent’s estate to recover the medical costs incurred by the wife for her aid. The claim was denied by the estate of the decedent and the executor filed a petition in the Nassau County Surrogate Court to determine the validity of the DSS’ claim. The court affirmed the validity of the claim and ordered the estate for its payment to such extent as would not impinge the bequest in favour of the mentally disabled child. The executor filed a another petition prompting modification the decree by the probate court.

A Suffolk County Probate Lawyers said that based on the Court ruling, “DSS may recover, from the estate of the community spouse, the cost of Medicaid benefits paid for the care of an institutionalized spouse, so long as the community spouse was a “responsible” relative pursuant to Social Services Law § 101, in that he or she possessed sufficient means to pay the institutionalized spouse’s medical expenses at the time when the expenses were incurred.”

The Court also made judgment that the statute limitations as to amount that can be recovered for the expenses incurred by DSS in case of having a permanently disabled child does not apply in this case because DSS is claiming against the estate of the decedent and not that of the institutionalized spouse.

The assessment of the benefits received by the decedent’s spouse shall be made starting from the time of decedent’s death until the death of the institutionalized spouse. The Medicaid worksheet submitted by DSS, at the time of the application of decedent’s spouse for Medicaid benefits, the decedent have ample amount of resources in excess of the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) and the he had monthly income in excess of the minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance (hereinafter MMMNA). Decedent never challenged the report pertaining to his CSRA and MMMNA upon its assessment, thus, he is barred from questioning the same.

Because decedent has surplus resources upon his spouse’s application of the Medicaid benefits, he was bound to make reimbursements of the medical expenses incurred by DSS for the benefit of his wife in extent of the amount of his available resources.

The Court ruled validity and ordered full payment of the claims by the Nassau County Department of Social Services against the estate of the decedent.

One of the major concerns in the settlement of estate is the payment of claims against the estate prior to its distribution among the estate’s beneficiaries. If you are appointed as administrator or executor of the court in a probate of a will, you may need to hire one of our Nassau County Estate Counsels to guide you on how to go about estate settlements.

Just visit the office of Stephen Bilkis and Associates and we will be pleased in providing you with legal services from our Nassau County Probate Lawyers who are expert in this field.

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