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First I’m 52, a triple amputee, blind in my left eye and live alone in rural Arizona. I have full Medicare and Medicaid benefits thankfully.


My mother was my caregiver until she had a stroke in 2011. She owns the house legally and put me in her will as sole beneficiary. She now lives in an assisted living place and I live in the home alone.


Recently I received a letter from the government that said they were putting a lien on the home, I had previously been told that this would not happen because of my disability.


Does my mother or myself have any rights regarding this issue? Is there anything I can do? I’d like to continue living here but unfortunately have nothing to offer an attorney other than a sad story..


Any helpful advice appreciated as if they take my mother's modified home from me I will no longer be able to live independently.


Sincerely,


Sebastian

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I don’t have an answer but for what it’s worth I will say a special prayer that you are able to remain in your home. God bless you.

I am so sorry you are going through this experience.
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My first guess would be that the letter was sent to you in error, clerical or computer generated; or maybe because something should've been updated and wasn't; or you missed a request for confirmation of something or other....

Never mind, doesn't matter. Don't panic: have you called the people who sent the letter to query it?
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Sebastian, welcome to the forum!

I take it that your mom is in Medicaid and that they are paying for AL?

I think the way it works is that Medicaid places a lien on your mom's home. The lien dies not mean that you are losing your home. It means that you can't sell the home without satisfying the lien.

Do you have a Medicaid caseworker? I would ask that person about the condition of the lien.
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GraceNBCC Aug 2019
You would have to get the lien removed before your mom passed, or get financing to pay off the lien in order for title to pass to you.
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First you need to calm down. A lien is not an eviction notice. It means that when the property is sold, and not by the government, but by the legal owner that the government will be paid at that time from the profits of the sale before anyone else.
Now as to what happens when ownership changes due to the death of the legal owner I cannot say. You may have to find some way of paying the debt.
Just calm down and start looking for a senior legal service in your area that can provide you with the answers.
Here in Nevada this service is called Senior Citizen's Law Project.
It may a simple but scary error on the part of a recent hire clerk.
Good luck and best wishes.
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Crippledguy, glad tacy022 had brought up the idea of outstanding taxes which brought to my mind watch out for SCAMMERS.

If there are back taxes or not, please be careful of scammers who use tax files to find houses where the owner hadn't pay their real estate taxes or if the owners are elderly, thus the scammers will send out a lien to the property owner using a letter that resembles a local government letterhead. Thus the owner will be paying the scammers and not the local government.

Call your local government [don't use any telephone numbers on the letter as if this is a scam, you will get the scammers jerry-rigged phone number] to see if they had infact sent you a letter about a lien.
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I agree with all here. First is don't panic. I am the one who does panicking at the first sign of anything until my partner reminds me that everything today is computer generators and mindless, and is only so many numbers. You have to find out what is happening, but know it isn't happening today.
Nextly it is important to my mind that you have some legal advice. I understand you have nothing to pay them but your good heart, so it is crucial that you get hooked up with some legal aid. Call your medicaid caseworker first to get hooked in to some help. Then call everyone everywhere you can think of, even to the churches in your area. I know that certain Senior Centers can hook you up with legal aid. You do have a need to know now. I am assuming that your taxes are being paid. That is a big one.
Wishing you good luck. Hope some of our legal eagles will weigh in as they often have good advice.
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Sebastian, you haven' t mentioned being a Veteran, so I'm assuming you're not.  But if by chance you are, and if you're getting VA benefits, contact your medical team leader and ask him/her to put you in touch with your assigned caseworker (probably a social worker).   He/she can review what might be available to you as a Veteran, including some kind of stay of execution of a lien.

But I'd like to know more about the alleged lien.  

Questions: 

From which governmental department, SPECIFICALLY, did the letter originate?  

Was there any indication what the lien was for, the amount, and the rationale?

Was the purpose of notifying you to provide remedies to avoid the lien?  If so, what did the letter advise being done?   

Was the letter addressed to you, as occupant, or to your mother, as owner?

Do you still have documentation addressing a non lienable home due to your disability?    And are there any documents you have addressing the issue of your residing there even though your mother owns the home?  

Do you have a caseworker who helped you get disability, and are you still in contact with her/him?

I echo FF's concern about potential scammers.    This is a very valid reason to confirm with the alleged government entity ASAP.   

Most of the Senior Centers in my area have visiting attorneys once or biweekly; they provide limited advice, generally on nonspecific topics, but it's worth considering.   Someone might be able to give you a lead to an attorney who could help you pro bono (w/o a fee).

But, first, please provide more information on the letter.   It seems that if they notified you of intent, there would be options to remedy whatever the issue is.   If they had notified you that a lien was placed already, that's a different story.

I'll look forward to more information from you on this unsettling issue.
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I would add that the real estate scammers seem to be multiplying.  Yesterday I found a solicitation stuck in the front door handle.   

And another alleged flipper called to inquire about my father's house, which surprised me as there's no way he could know to call me unless a neighbor told him.   Coincidentally, he sounded just like someone with a different name who called about my house a few days ago.  

I asked him for his company's name, whether or not there was an LLC involved (there was), and then told him that to even consider his stated flipping interest I would require (a) a financial report on him and on the owner of the company as well as (b) a Dun & Bradstreet report on the LLC.   Poor guy; he had no idea what I was talking about.

I traced the LLC to an iffy sounding outfit that searches for homes to convert to rentals.  Low class outfit too; one of the seminars was titled "WTF is a lease option".    I wouldn't consider dealing with anyone using that vernacular.

What I think is that some aggressive pretend realtors are contracting soliciting for homes to boiler room operations, perhaps using immigrants as the dual personality one who called me could barely speak English, and clearly had difficulty understanding it.

(I couldn't help wondering if some of them are using migrants and exploiting them.)
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Garden, isn’t that sad? Truly is. It’s horrible to take advantage of the unsuspecting or the most vulnerable people.
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Please don't panic. A "lien" is nothing more than a dollar amount attached to your home for nonpayment (or to protect a vested interest....Medicaid, property taxes for example) when the home is sold. A lien does not mean foreclosure. Contact whichever agency is responsible and as someone else suggested.....legal aide. And then be aware that many real estate sites have an ongoing list of pre-foreclosures (which in reality means nothing) of homes that incur liens. Ignore them.

My concern is that the home remains in your mom's name...and here is where legal advice is imperative. Even though you are the beneficiary, this does not protect you to inherit the home. And if you are on Medicaid ownership could be in peril for you. With that, I am now out of my league........and hope you can speak to someone capable to guide you through the legal hoops. Good luck to you.
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rovana Aug 2019
I don't think it is safe to ignore a lien - at least go to legal or pro bono lawyer to get the facts. Otherwise you may get a nasty surprise. Check out Garden Artist's post.
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I agree with BarbBrooklyn. Your name is not on the deed to the house but rather in her will. The state has every right to put a lien against her house and recoup the costs of her care. Who told you that the state would not put a lien on the house?
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Good points, NYDIL and Barb.   It's not his house; it's his mother's house.
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I'd like to share some insight on the issue and seriousness of liens. NO LIEN should be ignored; these are serious issues and not to be treated lightly.

1.  I would take any lien very seriously. Liens can accrue interest and become substantial liabilities, decreasing the equity value in the home, reducing the eventual sale profits.      

Liens do have to be discharged before property can be sold.

2.  Depending on the type of lien, they CAN be foreclosed.  This is a good explanation on foreclosure of various types of liens:

https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/foreclosure/enforcement-non-mortgage-liens.html

3.  A lien for property taxes is subject to time constraints, depending on the jurisdiction. E.g., if an unpaid tax lien remains unpaid for that specific time frame, the taxing jurisdiction can acquire title and may be able to dispose of the property.  

This has been a serious issue for people who have ignored tax liens and found their once valuable property sold for the lien value plus interest.   AARP Bulletin has addressed this issue periodically.   Some folks have been appalled that a local taxing authority has acquired their house for a fraction of its market value.

4.  Lien priority is an issue in the decision to foreclose, as well as the disposition of the lien.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-lien-priority.html

5.   Different states have different lien laws.    What might be required in one state might not be in another (i.e., mechanic's liens and requirement for what's known as "perfecting" the lien.


It is not my intention to criticize or repudiate anyone else's post, but I do think CrippledGuy needs to be aware that this is a serious issue and needs to be addressed quickly, by legal counsel if necessary.

CG, I'm definitely not trying to frighten you, just to alert you. 

You might want to do some research on whether there are (a) legal aid groups that assist people in need and/or (b)  pro bono attorneys who provide work to qualified clients, on a gratis basis.

Additionally, your state may have a legal agency that provides free information to elders, or perhaps to people with challenges.    I've gotten good advice from the Elder Law Agency of Michigan.
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Thank you for this great information!!
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NeedHelpWithMom, yes, it infuriates me when greedy people try to take advantage of people.   I'm still thinking how I'm going to deal with these shysters.
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The only time i have known medicaid to place a lien on the home, is if the homeowner is deceased, title/deed is in owners name and had received medicaid benefits prior to their death. . This happened with my grandmother and even though she had a will, medicaid still got half of the proceeds of the sale of her home. It was just my mother(her DIL) and me that took care of her the last 7-8 yrs of her life. My mom was supposed to receive half of sale proceeds, but because she was not a blood relative( son and daughter passed before she did), st of FL got my moms $s.
Please contact a senior center or legal aid to help you and get some answers....blessings to you!
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Medicaid doesn’t care about wills. A Will doesn’t prevent Medicaid estate recovery from taking what is owed to them. Your mom was supposed to get half of what was left AFTER your grandmothers debts were paid.
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cherokeegrrl54, you're quite welcome!
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Crippled Guy, If your mother is on Medicaid, a lien may be placed on the home by Medicaid. Medicaid does not go by what the will says. Contact an attorney to determine what your rights will be as to the house.
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I thought you were allowed to own one piece of untouchable property? At least in Michigan I think that is true. Any insight to this?
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Tacy, you're correct. I have not dealt with Medicaid.
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As I recall it was called a “tefra” lien? might be misspelled. The paperwork is with my brother right now so I can get his opinion, but to begin with there are Zero back or unpaid taxes, no unpaid bills period! No judgments against my mother or myself. To my knowledge there is nothing owed anywhere to anyone by any family member.
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PowerOf3 Aug 2019
Ok first review the document carefully, contact a local Title company and inquire if said lien is in fact on the property and by whom it’s been placed (explain the letter received and your concerns of illegitimate companies that scam elderly). It’s rare a FORCED SALE would occur unless it’s a sheriffs lien. And the others are correct, liens are paid when the home is sold so the property can be transferred free of liens and encumbrances to the new owners and their mortgage company otherwise they are purchasing a debt along with the home. A lien requires satisfaction before transfer but rarely a Force Sale.
If the Title Company confirms it’s valid, they can provide you/mom with lien holders information so you/mom can contact them directly. I wish your current health and disabilities mattered but it’s not your home, it’s hers. You’re not on the Title so you’re simply a beneficiary of whatever equity is left upon her passing. Liens can be paid so don’t fret until you have all the information,. Please just make certain it’s valid before anyone moves, signs anything, or gets more grey hair.
Its a damn shame people prey on others homes, they got my x MIL to sign over her entire home to them, people visited and entered and had the paperwork, she failed to tell me thinking she’d done something wrong, They were aggressive and sounded legitimate to her.
Start with a Title Company before calling any numbers on that notice. Get the lien holders information and proceed from there with The Who, why, how to remedy.. Liens are serious and should be taken as such so don’t ignore it, but get the facts. I find it strange that no notices were sent prior to lien being placed! That’s my first red flag.
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MERP?
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https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.agingoptions.com/blog/2012/11/27/what-is-a-medicaid-lien/amp/

Found it!!

Call your local Area Agency on Aging on behalf of your mother. They may be able to point you to a pro bono legal service or legal clinic that can straighten this out for you.

Do you have a caseworker, or does mom have a Medicaid caseworker? S/he may be a source of clarifying information.
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CG, if your mother was your primary caregiver until 2011, who's been supporting you since then? Does your brother have power of attorney for you and/or your mother? When did your mother move in to the ALF? - I'm wondering if there still is a load of paperwork flying about because of her move, and this is perhaps a loose end still to be tied up.

Can anyone confirm - I thought there were exemptions from Medicaid recovery when the Medicaid recipient's child is also dependent on the Medicaid recipient through disability and has been resident in the home since (whenever)?

But anyway - given the level of your disability and the modifications that have been made to this home to allow you to live independently, I can't imagine Medicaid wanting to kick you out - you'd cost them a lot more anywhere else!
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So true...
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Crippled Guy, Consult n attorney in your state familiar with Medicaid. If that is not feasible consult Area Agency on Aging. In my state because of your disabilities you would be able to keep the home. Any lien or sale of home would be after you passed away not after your mother passes.
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They don't do fitness to work interviews? We had a big dust-up over here not long ago when disability benefits got rebranded as Personal Independence Payments with, supposedly, a new emphasis on supporting people with disabilities into employment rather than making insulting assumptions about their never being able to hold down a job; right idea, but as so often happens not quite so nice in the implementation. People with intermittent difficulties, such as with RA and MS, were sometimes terribly mistreated.

Anyway - one of the things that certain sections of the press were bursting their editorial blood vessels about was that the contractor hired to run the screening process was American (read - cold-hearted capitalist skinflints, à la George Clooney in Up In The Air; I apologise but I'm sure it won't be the first time you've heard the stereotype). I assume this company did have some experience of the assessments??! - but perhaps not as a government contractor, then.
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Stereotyping other people isn’t helpful.
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Sebastian,

citing BarbBrooklyn's post, TEFRA Lien stands for Tax Equity and Financial Responsibility Act, "or pre-death liens [which/can] occur when the recipient is permanently institutionalized. "

Since you're not institutionalized, I'm not sure I see the applicability of this.   But I confess that I don't have a lot of time to research the entire issue, especially w/o more information on the wording of the lien document.

However, if you read the second paragraph of the above cite, it appears as though this may be a pre-emptory action to ensure that no assets are disposed of prior to your death.

Another "however", though, since you're not yet owner, I'm not sure why this lien has been filed against you.  Or, was it against your mother?   Who's named in the lien?    You or her?   This is key to interpretation and effect.  

I have the impression this is a lien against the property for your mother's Medicaid assistance, not yours, and further since you're not owner, you have an anticipated, vs. actual interest in the property.

Can you call your brother and get more specifics on the lien and share them with us?

When you have that information, these references might be helpful:

https://www.azag.gov/seniors/resources-for-seniors

https://arizona.myresourcedirectory.com/index.php/component/cpx/?task=search.query&view=&page=1&search_history_id=47312917&unit_list=0&akaSort=0&query=%20&simple_query=&code=PX-1850.4000,
with information on contacts:  AARP and AAA.   

The third - sixth hits may be of help to you.  
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Sebastian, was this addressed to you or to your mom?

Who is mom's POA?
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I would try to find an attorney that knows the medicaid laws and see where things stand. It is my understanding that the owner stays in the home but if it is sold then the debt is paid. I would also look into how the deed is written. I knew someone that had a lien on their home and they were able to stay in it. They also could not put a lien on another property this person had because two people were named on the deed. I am not sure if the laws vary from state to state. I wish you all the best!!
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Sebastian, my 87 year old mother owns her home and during our meeting with her elderly attorney we added myself (daughter) to the deed to the house. This one action will keep those Lien letters away. If she is still mentally able and agrees, get your name added to the home deed.
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caring4ken Aug 2019
joint tenancy will not remove a lien on the property. It can affect your credit though if you’re joint tenant in a property that has liens
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Have an attorney draw up a Lady Bird Deed for you . (About $200). This will give you the protection you need.
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caring4ken Aug 2019
He’s in Arizona - Lady Birds are not recognized
TODDs transfer on death, but beneficiaries are subject to cure any Encumbrances on the property
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Get thee to an attorney in your own state asap! MA laws do allow this, but it's applied in various ways, state to state. It kicks in if a person is on Medical Assistance (Medicaid), is over 55, and is in an assisted living facility or nursing hoe paid for by MA. This is why we need Medicare for All, so that MA is no longer viewed as a long term loan, but the assistance your tax dollars prepaid for as was the case for decades. I'm not sure if a Lady Bird (or Transfer on Death Deed) can be done now - be sure to check right away. Best of luck.
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Medicare for all wouldn't change anything for this man, Medicare doesn't pay for LTC, so the room and board would still need to be paid by someone. Stop politicizing here. If you don't understand what something is, you shouldn't vote for it. By the way, how is this supposed to be paid for?
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You may also want to contact your Congressman or Congresswoman. They can be very helpful with issues relating to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. My Congressman helped my husband...and quickly...with a serious Social Security issue that we thought was unsolveable. And you do not have to pay them to help you!
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GraceNBCC Aug 2019
Great advice! A call or letter from them gets people jumping. I once had a job where I had to respond to our State Senator who wrote the Fed Agency I worked for.

In that case the guy was a weasel, and I wrote a detailed 5 page response on the facts of the issue, which my boss signed...with great relief.
Do get your paperwork together, including a print out of recent statement of Social Security Benefits and copy of Original Letter declaration that you are permenantly disabled. Also Medicare & Meficaid cards.
The office of your Congressman or Senator will often have a short turn around time for your response! They act fast!

If you go to court you should fill out a Paupers Declaration... basically show how broke you are. That way neither you nor your attorney has to pay filing fees charged by the court.. they have a lot of them!
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