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Can the state of Florida take my home?

Hi, I am Jimmy Miller, the elder care attorney. I’m often asked, “Can the state of Florida take my home as a result of having received Medicaid benefits?” The answer to that question is more complex than it would appear on its surface. Some states allow that, after a person’s demise, that Medicaid may be able to access the ownership of the home and its proceeds from the sale of that home to repay any and all benefits that were received during the recipient’s, or the deceased party’s, lifetime. However, in Florida, since most of Medicaid is administered by various states, Florida itself under Article 10, Section 4 of the Florida constitution protects your homestead property as an exempt asset from creditors.

In this particular case, the Medicaid system would be considered a creditor and therefore, as long as you owned the property at the time of your demise, the proceeds would pass to your heirs free and clear of any claims of creditors. The caveat, however, is that in order to have that protection, the protection must be attached to your homestead property. So if you have moved to another facility and no longer claim it as homestead, then there is an opportunity for creditors to seek to use that property as a source of repayment. This is one of the reasons that, in looking at these issues, it’s important that you get competent counseling from an elder care professional that understands the ramifications of this issue.

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