The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that a trial court erred in concluding that the Family and Social Services Administration’s preferred claim for reimbursement of Medicaid benefits against an estate was not timely filed.
In State of Indiana ex rel. Family and Social Services Administration v. Estate of Phillip Roy, No. 33A04-1105-ES-246, the FSSA filed a notice of lien in April 2009 against the estate of Phillip Roy after he died in November 2008 for nearly $40,000 in Medicaid expenses incurred by Roy during his lifetime. The estate moved to dismiss the petition. The trial court disallowed the lien because it was invalid and found that FSSA’s claim to recover the benefits was time-barred by Indiana Code 29-1-14-1(d) because it was filed more than nine months after Roy died.
The trial court focused on the part of the statute that says all claims barrable under subsection (a) would be barred if not filed within nine months. But the judge disregarded the language of subsection (a) that says the time limitations apply to all claims filed “other than … claims of the United States, the state, or a subdivision of the state …” The FSSA is a subdivision of the state, the judges found.
Judges James Kirsch and Cale Bradford also rejected the argument by the estate that because an estate wasn’t opened within five months, the estate representatives are prevented from selling Roy’s real estate and using the proceeds or a portion of it to pay FSSA’s claim based on I.C. 29-1-7-15.1(b). The judges remanded with instructions.
Judge Michael Barnes disagreed with his colleagues that subsection 15.1(b) doesn’t preclude the sale of Roy’s real property to pay a debt owed to FSSA.
“To give effect to Subsection 15.1(b), I believe that because FSSA is no longer claiming that it has a valid lien upon Roy’s real property and because his estate was not opened within five months of death, the property cannot be sold to pay FSSA’s claim,” he wrote.