Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Lien – Estate Planning

Los Angeles Glendale Lawyer Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Lien – Estate Planning

For those who receive Medi-Cal benefits, it is important to know that the State of California has laws that allow Medi-Cal to recover their costs for providing health services through Medi-Cal’s benefits program.

Medi-Cal is a Federal and California state program designed to assist Medi-Cal recipients pay for medical care.  Once a person passes away who was receiving benefits during his/her lifetime, under certain criteria, Medi-Cal will assert a lien agains the decedent’s estate to recovery the costs associated with benefits paid out.  If eligible, the personal residence and other assets of the person receiving those benefits may be subject to a lien (Estate Recovery Lien) after their death.  However, it is important to know that certain exemptions are available.

Most people who are Medi-Cal recipients are concerned with their largest asset, their personal residence and/or real estate. Can Medi-Cal assert a lien on their personal residence and/or real estate? The answer is unfortunately yes. What does this mean?

The State can recover only up to the amount paid through Medi-Cal for your health benefits, and up to your ownership interest in your real estate.  That means, for property owned as Joint Tenants at the time of death, the state would only reach your 50% interest in the property, not the entire value.

Are there any exemptions? The answer is Yes (see below).

Surviving Spouse: The state cannot make any recovery while a surviving spouse of a deceased Medi-Cal beneficiary is alive. However, after the surviving spouse dies, recovery may be made against any property received by the spouse through estate distributions. However, if the home is transferred out of decedent’s name during their lifetime, then the state can make no claim on the decedent’s real estate..

Minor, Blind or Disabled Child: If a minor child under the age of 21 or a blind or disabled child of any age survives the beneficiary, a claim is prohibited by federal and state laws. Proof is required.

When There is Nothing Left in the Estate:  If there is nothing in the estate to recover from, then no claim of lien can be made (makes sense no?)

The Shirvanian Law Firm, APLC. routinely assists clients with answering these questions and making strategic decisions about estate planning in general.  If you have any questions about Medi-Cal lien rights or estate planning in general, please call the firm at (818) 835-5396 or email us at

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