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Heyn v. Director of the Office of Medicaid (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-043-16)

NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports. If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557- 1030; 15-P-166 Appeals Court EILEEN M. HEYN, personal representative,1 vs. DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAID. No. 15-P-166. Worcester. February 5, 2016. – April 15, 2016. Present: Green, Hanlon, & Henry, JJ. Medicaid. Trust, Self-settled trust, Irrevocable trust, Distribution, Allocation of payments between principal and income, Power of appointment. Annuity. Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on December 12, 2013. The case was heard by William F. Sullivan, J., on a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Patrick Tinsley for the plaintiff. Daniel J. Hammond, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant. Patricia Keane Martin, Robert P. Ford, Kathryn E. Szewczyk, & Don J.J. Cordell, for National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (Massachusetts Chapter), amicus curiae, submitted a brief. GREEN, J. We are called upon yet again to review a determination that assets within a self-settled irrevocable 1 Of the estate of Everlenna Roche. 2 inter vivos trust should be treated as available to the trust grantor for payment of nursing home expenses (and, correspondingly, render the grantor ineligible for Medicaid benefits). We conclude that a hearing officer of the MassHealth board of hearings erroneously concluded that the trust at issue permitted its trustee to distribute proceeds from the sale of trust assets to the grantor in certain circumstances. Consequently, we reverse the judgment of the Superior Court affirming MassHealth’s termination of benefits to the plaintiff’s decedent.2 Background. From November 4, 2011, until her death on August 25, 2013, the plaintiff’s decedent, Everlenna Roche, resided at a skilled nursing facility in Westborough. Approximately eight and one-half years earlier, Roche had established the Everlenna R. Roche Irrevocable Trust (trust), and transferred to it title to her home at 10 Baker Way, Westborough, retaining a life estate.3 Upon moving into the 2 We acknowledge the amicus brief submitted by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (Massachusetts chapter). 3 The defendant makes no argument that the life estate retained by Roche might itself have a value that could affect her eligibility for benefits, stating in its brief that it is “a correct statement of the law under Cohen [v. Commissioner of the Div. of Med. Assistance, 423 Mass. 399 (1996), cert. denied sub nom. Kokoska, by Kokoska v. Bullen, 519 U.S. 1057 (1997),] and its progeny” that retention of a life estate does not render an individual ineligible for benefits. We do […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 18, 2016 at 3:53 pm

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