Question: I just received a questionnaire from the State of Michigan asking about my Mother’s home. What is that? What does it mean?

Answer: That is the State of Michigan trying to recover money under the Estate Recovery Act. If your Mother received Medicaid benefits related to long-term care since July 1, 2010, the State of Michigan is trying to see if they can get back the money they paid for her benefits. Wonderful law, isn’t it?! It’s not the State of Michigan’s fault though. They were the last State in the union to adopt an estate recovery law. Basically, the Federal Government said if you don’t adopt it, we will withhold funding. The power of the almighty dollar wins again! Many people are not aware that if they apply for Medicaid assistance for long-term care the State is going to come after their assets when they die. It’s assistance with strings attached.

The best thing that someone can do in advance is to look for ways around the Estate Recovery Act so that your assets are not recoverable when you pass away. Lady Bird Deeds, joint titling of certain assets, etc., are good ways to do this. However, it is much more complicated than it sounds because you don’t want to do something that may affect your Medicaid eligibility in the future. My advice is to see an elder law attorney who specializes in Medicaid for long-term care and the Estate Recovery Act. They can tell you what assets, if any, are recoverable by the State of Michigan.

Michael B. Walling is an Elder Law attorney with an advance Master of Laws degree. He manages The Elder Law Center and the law firm of Michael B. Walling, PLC. Mr. Walling is also a part-time Professor at Western Michigan University. Please email any questions you would like addressed to: This column is intended for general information purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice to any particular person.