Q: My mom refuses Medicaid because she was told the State will take her home
away. Is that true?

A: The short answer is: no, not with good planning. The program your mom has been told about is the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP). Sometimes the State can recover from the probate estates of people who receive long-term care Medicaid benefits. The good news is that this program is absolutely avoidable in Texas.

First, MERP can only recover from probate estates. To avoid this, simply sign a Lady Bird deed or Transfer on Death deed on the house. This transfers the home automatically, which avoids probate and MERP.

Second, even if she doesn’t sign a Ladybird Deed or Transfer on Death deed, MERP is often avoidable. If there is a surviving spouse, MERP can never recover, not even after the surviving spouse dies. If there is a disabled child, a child under 21, or an adult, unmarried child living in the home who has been living there for at least 1 year prior to the death of the Medicaid recipient, there can be no recovery. A waiver or partial waiver is also possible for beneficiaries with limited incomes. In either case, no MERP claim should ever be paid without first consulting an attorney who specializes in this area to ensure that it must be paid. Don’t let mom be too afraid of this avoidable recovery program to get the benefits she needs!