The Top 10 Elder Law Decisions of 2019

Below, in chronological order, is the  annual roundup of the top 10 elder law decisions across the nation for the past year, as measured by the number of “unique page views” of the summary of the decision received on the ElderLawAnswers website. ElderLawAnswers is a web-based resource available for those in the public seeking information on legal and financial issues relevant to aging and a network of more than 1,000 attorneys and law firms nationwide who practice elder law. Mr. Vanarelli is a founding member of ElderLawAnswers.

  1. Irrevocable Trust Belonging to Community Spouse Is Not Automatically an Available Resource, Michigan High Court Rules

Reversing an appeals court, Michigan’s highest court holds that assets placed in an irrevocable trust for the sole benefit of a community spouse are not automatically considered countable assets for the purpose of an institutionalized spouse’s initial eligibility determination for Medicaid long-term-care benefits. Hegadorn v. Department of Human Services (Mich., Nos. 156132, 156133, and 156134, May 9, 2019).

  1. State’s Medicaid Lien Has Priority Even Though It Was Filed After Recipient Died

An Ohio appeals court rules that the state has priority over a nursing home in a claim for Medicaid recovery against the estate of a nursing home resident even though the state did not file a lien against the resident’s property until after the resident died. Wiesenmayer v. Vaspory (Ohio Ct. App., 2ndDist., No. 27931, May 10, 2019).

  1. Nursing Home Resident’s Representative Liable for Nonpayment Claim Even Though She Didn’t Sign Admission Agreement

Reversing a lower court, an Ohio appeals court rules that the fact that a nursing home resident’s representative did not sign the nursing home admission agreement is not reason enough to grant her summary judgment because the nursing home’s claims against her for nonpayment were not based on theories of liability under the agreement. Montefiore Home v. Fields (Ohio Ct. App., 8thDist., No. 107359, May 23, 2019).

  1. Court Must Take Medicaid Law Into Account When Deciding Spouse’s Support Claim

A Michigan appeals court holds that the wife of a Medicaid recipient may pursue a spousal support claim instead of an administrative remedy under Medicaid law, but that the probate court must take Medicaid law into account when deciding whether she is entitled to support. In re Michael Declerck (Mich. Ct. App., No. 343483, June 18, 2019).

  1. Senior’s Transfer to Pooled Trust Triggers Medicaid Penalty Period

A U.S. court of appeals rules that a transfer to a special needs pooled trust by a Medicaid recipient who is age 65 or older triggers a Medicaid penalty period. Richardson v. Hamilton (1st Cir., No. 18-1223, June 20, 2019).

  1. Son Who Received His Mother’s Assets Is Liable for Her Unpaid Nursing Home Expenses

A New York trial court rules that a son who received his mother’s assets without consideration, leaving her insolvent, is liable for her unpaid nursing home costs. Amsterdam Nursing Home Corp. (1992) v. Lynch (NY Sup. Ct., No. 154028/2018, June 7, 2019).

  1. Nursing Home Can’t Sue Daughter of Resident Who Transferred Money to Herself

A New Jersey appeals court holds that a nursing home does not have standing to bring a claim of conversion or breach of fiduciary duty against a resident’s daughter who transferred the resident’s money to herself, causing a Medicaid penalty period. Future Care Consultants, LLC v. M.D. (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., No. A-4565-17T1, July 5, 2019).

  1. Attorney Who Received Estate Assets Subject to Medicaid Lien Is Liable to State for Lien

A Massachusetts appeals court holds that evidence supports a trial court decision that an attorney who received assets from the estate of a Medicaid recipient is liable to the state for the Medicaid lien on the property. Costantino v. Lonardo (Mass. Ct. App., No. 18-P-587, July 23, 2019). .

  1. State Wrongly Required Medicaid Applicant to Provide Information that Didn’t Exist to Verify Assets

A New Jersey appeals court holds that the state wrongly required a Medicaid applicant to produce information that did not exist to verify her assets and that the state should not have denied benefits for that reason. L.A. v. Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., No. A-3368-17T3, Sept. 4, 2019).

  1. Attorney Accused of Charging Excessive Fees While Acting as Agent Under a POA Receives Two-Year Stayed Suspension

Ohio’s highest court stays the two-year suspension of an attorney with a long, unblemished career who acted as his client’s agent under a power of attorney while charging the same rate for legal and non-legal services and filed a declaratory judgment action against the client and others, seeking legal fees. Disciplinary Counsel v. Harmon (Ohio, No. 2018-0817, Oct. 15, 2019).

(This blog post is based upon an article on the ElderLawAnswers website. Mr. Vanarelli is a founding member of ElderLawAnswers.)

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