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The answer depends on state law, so you’ll have to consult with an elder law attorney in your state. While the federal government requires all state Medicaid programs to seek recovery of their expenses from the estates of deceased beneficiaries – usually from their home, since that’s the only valuable asset Medicaid beneficiaries are allowed to keep – some states only seek recovery against probate property and others have so-called “expanded” recovery against non-probate property. Probate property is property only in the decedent’s name that must pass through probate to go to the person’s heirs. Non-probate property includes jointly owned property, trusts, accounts with named beneficiaries and, as in your case, life estates. In states that don’t have expanded estate recovery, life estates are often used as ways to avoid both probate and Medicaid estate recovery.