State Can Recover Child Support Arrearages from Medicaid Recipient’s Estate

An Ohio appeals court rules that the state can recovery child support arrearages from the estate of a Medicaid recipient because the expanded definition of estate in Ohio law includes non-probate assets. In Re: Estate of Anderson (Ohio Ct. App., 3rd Dist., No. 17-20-03, Dec. 28, 2020).

Betty Anderson had custody of her granddaughter, Emily Work, and her grandson, Bradley Work. While Ms. Anderson was guardian of the Works, their father owed child support arrearages to Ms. Anderson. Ms. Anderson received Medicaid benefits, and when she died, the state filed a claim against her estate. The estate’s only asset was the child support arrearages.

Ms. Work filed an exception, arguing that the child support arrearages were not an asset of the estate. The trial court found that the arrearages were reduced to judgment, so they were a part of the estate. Ms. Work appealed.

The Ohio Court of Appeals, Third District, affirms, holding that the arrearages are part of the estate. The court concludes “that under the expanded definition of ‘estate’ in [Ohio law], which includes non-probate assets, [Ms. Anderson’s] legal interest in the child support arrearages owed to her as guardian-obligee for [the Works] represented a quantifiable asset for the purposes of the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program.”

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