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Minnesota Department of Human Services MA Estate Recovery Manual
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V. Determination of Descent

A determination of descent is a specialized proceeding that can occur only when:

  • • the decedent has been dead for more than three years,
  • • the decedent left real or personal property, and
  • • the decedent’s estate has not yet gone through probate in Minnesota or in any other state.
  • You, or any other interested party, may petition a court to determine the descent of the estate’s property and assign title to the correct parties under law. A court cannot issue a determination of descent, however, until a Certificate of Clearance for Medical Assistance Claim – Decree of Descent (DHS-6165B) has been filed in the proceeding. See Minnesota Statutes, section 525.312.

    You process an application for a certificate of clearance by verifying whether an MA claim can be made against the estate and, if so, the amount of the claim.

    A. How to process an application for a certificate of clearance for MA claims

    After filing a petition for a decree of descent, the petitioner or the petitioner’s attorney must send you (the local agency where the petition is pending) an Application for Certificate of Clearance for Medical Assistance Claims – Decree of Descent (DHS-6165A). Upon receiving the application, process it by completing the Certificate of Clearance for Medical Assistance Claims – Decree of Descent (DHS-6165B):

  • • Indicate whether there are any MA claims against the decedent or spouses listed in the application.
  • • Indicate the total amount of any MA claims.
  • • List a contact person at your agency.
  • • Have the director of your agency or the director’s designee sign the certificate.
  • • Mail the completed certificate to the applicant within 15 working days after receiving the application.
  • If the certificate lists an MA claim, provide the heirs and devisees listed in the application with notice of the claim and their right to apply for an undue hardship waiver.

    B. How a certificate of clearance functions as a claim

    When the applicant receives the Certificate of Clearance for Medical Assistance Claims – Decree of Descent (DHS-6165B), he or she must file the certificate as part of the decree-of-descent proceedings as soon as possible. Filing a certificate with an MA claim amount has the effect of filing an MA claim that identifies you (the local agency) as the claimant. You can enforce the claim listed in the certificate only against property of the decedent that is subject to the proceedings. In addition, you may file a written statement of claim with the district court to ensure recognition of the claim.

    C. Decree of descent

    After the filing of the petition, the court sets a hearing date and gives notice to interested parties. Upon proof of the petition and original will (if a will exists), the claims listed in the certificate of clearance must be paid or satisfied before the court enters a decree of descent. A decree of descent assigns property free and clear of MA claims.

    An MA claim in decree-of-descent proceedings may be allowed, denied and appealed in the same way as any other claim in a probate estate. You have the discretion to collect, compromise, or settle a claim on whatever terms and conditions you believe are appropriate.

    D. Partial decree of descent

    During determination proceedings, the decedent’s heirs, devisees, successors, assigns, or their successors and assigns can apply to the court for a partial decree of descent to facilitate the good faith sale of their interest in the property described in the petition.

    A partial decree of descent assigns the property described in the application to the parties entitled to it, free and clear of all MA claims. The court may enter a partial decree of descent any time after it hears and decides the petition for a determination of descent.

    Net sale proceeds from the sale of the property are paid to the petitioner, who must hold them pending the entry of a decree of descent. These proceeds are used to pay MA claims before being distributed in accordance with the decree of descent.

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