Recently someone asked me a question: if an co-op apt. is owned jointly by spouses with right of survivorship, can Medicaid enforce a lien against the estate or the decedent’s interest in the co-op when the joint owner who was a Medicaid recipient dies?

There is a prohibition against placing a lien on the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient if the recipient is survived by a spouse. As long as there is a surviving spouse, there can be no lien against the estate of the deceased Medicaid recipient.

But – the Medicaid lien is held in abeyance. When the second spouse dies, a lien can be placed against the second spouse’s estate to recover Medicaid benefits paid to the first spouse.

However, there is a 10 year limitation. If the second spouse survives the first by more than 10 years, and only the first spouse received Medicaid, there is no viable claim against the second spouse’s estate, because there was no assistance granted within 10 years of the second spouse’s death.