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Minnesota Department of Human Services MA Estate Recovery Manual
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Notifying others about an MA claim in a probate proceeding

If you file a Medical Assistance (MA) claim against a decedent’s estate in a probate proceeding, you must provide a Notice of Claim for Medical Assistance (DHS-4934) and an Application for a Waiver of Claim (DHS-4933) to each of the decedent’s heirs and devisees, and any person with an ownership interest in the decedent’s real property, whom you can identify through a reasonable, diligent search.

I. Making a reasonable effort to identify heirs, devisees, and real property owners

When asserting an MA claim, you are required by law to make reasonable efforts to learn the names and current addresses of each of the decedent’s heirs and devisees and each person who has ownership interest in the decedent’s real property. See Minnesota Statutes, section 256B.15, subdivision 1a, paragraph (f).

An heir is a person entitled to all or part of a decedent’s property under Minnesota law when the decedent does not have a will. A devisee is a person who will receive property because it is written in a will.

A. What is reasonable effort?

Reasonableness is hard to define and varies depending on the situation.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has provided some guidance, however, by stating that a reasonable, diligent search does not require an extensive search if doing so will impair the estate’s administration, and so long as the search is done “with good faith and from proper motives, and within the bounds of reasonable judgment.” See In re Estate of Thompson, 484 N.W.2d 258, 261 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992) (discussing what an estate’s personal representative is required to do when performing a reasonable, diligent search for creditors).

Rely on the following resources to assist you in your search:

1. The probate file

The decedent’s probate file usually contains a list of names and addresses of all the heirs and devisees. If the probate file does not contain this information, it should at least provide the name, address, and phone number of the personal representative (and for the personal representative’s attorney if there is one). You can call the personal representative or the attorney for the estate to ask about heirs and devisees.

2. The MA member’s file and your database

The MA member’s file and your database will often contain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the decedent’s authorized representative, family members, or relatives. These people may be able to give the needed information.

B. When an heir, devisee, or real property owner cannot be found

If you cannot identify an heir, devisee, or real property owner after making a reasonable effort, you do not have to send a notice.

However, if you identify an heir, devisee, or real property owner but cannot determine the person’s current mailing address, you should mail the notice to that person’s last known address with address service requested, meaning that (1) the notice will be forwarded to the current address and (2) the current address will be sent to you.

II. Documenting the effort to identify heirs, devisees, and real property owners

Document your efforts to identify the name and current address of each heir, devisee, and real property owner in the claim file for the decedent. Retain this documentation, especially if identification efforts are not entirely successful. The documentation helps prove that you were reasonably diligent when identifying these parties.

III. Notifying identified heirs, devisees, and real property owners

After making a reasonable effort to identify the heirs, devisees, and real property owners, mail each identified person a completed Notice of Claim for Medical Assistance (DHS-4934).

By sending the completed form, you fulfill your duty to provide a statement of the claim, notice of the right to apply for an undue hardship waiver, and a statement of what “undue hardship” means under the law. Include a blank copy of the Application for a Waiver of Claim (DHS-4933) in each mailing.

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