How can I avoid giving my deceased moms house to MERP?

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My passed away 10/19/09 I recently tried selling her house which is probated will to me (her daughter). Title company couldn't clear the sell because of the pending MERP case which they say is a balance of $44K the value of the house is $31K Harris County appraisal district. I have been paying on the property taxes and utilties since she passed away. I was NEVER notified about MERP until now. I believe I should have some kind of legal rights that they NEVER notified me by letters or phone calls. What can I do? Thank you .. any advise would be helpful. The house is located in Houston Texas

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Ortiz - your ? was originally posted April, 2013. A year & 1/2 ago. So what has happened in that period of time?

Did you contact TxDADS, HMS? what did they say regarding the situation?

Did the person who wanted to buy the house go after you for lost opportunity because of the non disclosure?if they didn't consider yourself very lucky.
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GO, I think you cannot hide the fact of who lives there. We are talking about MERP, a federal agency. They know what brand of toilet paper you buy and whether your brother wears boxers or briefs. Just go see the lawyer and be honest, explain the facts and try to find solutions.
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I will only granted the house under her will after her death. I didn't live with her I did have a caregiver living with her for a couple of year but then the caregiver moved my mom to her on the final year of my moms life. I do pay property taxes on the house and utilities, some repairs were done by my brother (which I've currently receiving disability checks) he is unable to provide me with receipts because of his disability. I believe he does have receipts of the material he purchased. Another question is does MERP have to know if I rent the house?
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GO, were you granted occupancy because you were a caregiver? That is important to know when you go to see the attorney. Also bring all your receipts for expenses on the property, taxes, repairs etc. You also need all the probate documents to prove probate was done correctly.
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Currently there is a claim from HMS - MERP against my deceased moms house. I will hire myself an attorney for this situation. My question is can they come after me her daughter if this claim is not settled in a timely matter. Just asking because my husband wanted to know if they can take my savings our my house? Am I linked in any matter?
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JessieBelle - thanks! You know after death, there is all kinds of solicitations sent to family or the deceased address. it's so easy to data mine this as it's public info. My MIL had stuff sent c/o Estate of Jane Smith .... for over a year after her death.
So MERP letter could have been in a pile of other letters and overlooked by Ortiz.

I wonder if HMS is taking the approach now of filing the claim on auto-pilot 60 days after death in TX. It might be they assume the person died intestate unless they receive information differently in writing before that. Intestate in TX means everything accedes to the state. For HMS that means they are in control and the heirs have to do all the work and spend the $ to establish lineal heirship.
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igloo, that is wonderful information. Thank you so much for printing it. I am glad to see that utilities are included in maintenance costs. I had always heard that they were not. Including them makes more sense to me, because it is difficult to maintain a property without utilities, e.g. electricity and water.

I do wonder what might have happened to the letter that was sent.
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Here is TX MERP ?'s email:
merp@dads.state.tx.us

The current MERP form in TX is: Form 8001 (May 2011), it is now a 2 page form. It is on the TX DADS site. My mom's was a single page.

if Medicaid for NH was applied for after March 1, 2005, then MERP is in effect.
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Here is the info on expenses:
TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSION
CHAPTER 373 MEDICAID ESTATE RECOVERY PROGRAM
SUBCHAPTER B RECOVERY CLAIMS
RULE §373.213 Deduction Allowed for Expenses for Home Maintenance and Costs of Care
(a) An amount equal to necessary and reasonable maintenance expenses and taxes may be deducted from the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) claim for maintaining the home of the deceased Medicaid recipient, provided that sufficient supporting documentation of these expenditures, such as receipts, is provided to MERP by estate personal representatives, heirs, or legatees. Necessary and reasonable expenses for maintaining the home include real estate taxes, utility bills, insurance, home repairs, and home maintenance expenses such as lawn care.
(b) An amount equal to the necessary and reasonable expenses for the direct payment of the costs of care (including payment of personal attendant care) provided for a deceased Medicaid recipient that enabled the recipient to remain in his or her home and thereby delayed the institutionalization of the Medicaid recipient may be deducted from the MERP claim, provided that sufficient supporting documentation of these expenditures, such as receipts, is provided to MERP by estate personal representatives, heirs, or legatees.
(c) Requests for obtaining allowable deductions from MERP claims for expenses under subsections (a) or (b) of this section must be made in writing within 60 days after receipt of the Notice of the Intent to File a Claim by MERP. All supporting documentation must be attached to the request and sent to MERP, Home Maintenance/Costs of Care Request, P.O. Box 13247, Austin, Texas 78711.
Source Note: The provisions of this §373.213 adopted to be effective March 1, 2005, 30 TexReg 830
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MERP information was in the application for Medicaid that was done for your mom if she applied for Medicaid for NH. It is an acknowledgement of compliance type of letter or form. Participation in MERP is required for the states to get Medicaid $$.

I try to keep up on all things MERP as my mom is in TX has her home & is a NH on Medicaid. I am her DPOA and did her paperwork for Medicaid. Her MERP acknowledgement on it's own seperate page with TX DHHS letterhead within the stack of paperwork for admissions. If you review your copy of all her admissions stuff it will be in there. My mom's home still in her name, has it's homestead exemption and sits empty. I & another family member pay for all expenses on the home and will file for an exemption to MERP for those expenses to the penny. How MERP seems to run in TX now, is that it is done by HMS under contract with the state. It is not done by state employees' per se. HMS approaches MERP similar to how a debt collector works and they are very no nonsense and precise. HMS is a big national company and does compliance for CMS (Centers for Medicaid & Medicare) so have all the costs spent medically available in a few keystrokes. A MERP letter would have been sent to whomever was her representative on file for Medicaid within 60 days of her death. If she did not have a representative on file, then it was sent to the property. In the letter it states that a MERP inquiry is being done to determine if there are any exemptions to MERP (like expenses on the home, caretaker exemption, private pay by family to caregivers that kept the elder from going into the NH, family farm or business in/on the property, etc). If there are exemptions, then you have a set time-frame to respond (30 days) and with documentation as to the amount to MERP. This is vetted and then removed from the MERP tally if approved.

Now MERP has to evaluate IF they are even going to do an action on a property. That is why the letter is sent out right after death. MERP is done via a claim or lein through probate court. TX does this as a claim against the estate. TX is a level of claim state and MERP is a class 7 claim (so class 1 -6 all must be paid first). The letter is sent out to see if an action should happen. If nothing is sent back to MERP, then the claim is validated and gets filed against the property automatically - that is what happened to you.

The claim has to be cleared. You can never sell or get a loan on the property once there is a claim on it. Now that you know the claim exists, you have to put this as a disclaimer on the listing too - you are kinda toast with Realtors till claim is gone. At this point, you are going to need legal to do this in my opinion. Randy Drewett in big beautiful Beaumont is one of the big guys in dealing with MERP in TX - I'd suggest you call his office to get names of attorney's in Harris County who do MERP work. He has a website with MERP stories - you are not alone in this

But keep in mind MERP doesn't want the house, they just want some of the proceed$. Selling a house & all takes time & money, so a low value home that is going to need work to be sellable with have costs. What you kinda want the attorney to do is to negotiate with MERP to have the claim amount reduced. The most MERP could get would be under 30 K as there will be Realtor costs. MERP cannot get more $ than the assessor value of the home. Then your attorney will present your costs (all those taxes you paid; work you paid for on the house), so say that is another 10K, so now you're at 20K. Then say it seems homes are taking 8 months on market where your mom lives and selling for below assessor value, even less possible $. If you haven't done probate, there might be class 1 -6 claims and they get paid before MERP does too. So MERP might be happy to settle on much less to have the case closed. So you could pay MERP less and get a release of the claim so you can sell the property with no clouds. If probate is still open (4 years in TX - I've been executrix twice & 4 years is a long time to work things out), then you might can do a MUNIMENT OF TITLE to transfer property ownership and get out of probate court and do a muniment instead. Talk with the attorney about this. Oh another thing, TX requires that if you don't live in the state, you have to have a TX based attorney to do any probate work. Good luck.
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