Nov 26

Medicaid Applicant’s Assets Not Reduced By Probate Court Guardianship Orders

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A Texas court of appeals rules that probate court guardianship orders setting monthly needs allowances and authorizing payments do not act as encumbrances against a Medicaid applicant’s bank account because they do not require the payment of specific legal debt. Henson v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission (Tex. Ct. App., 3rd Dist., No. 03-13-00621-CV, Nov. 5, 2015).

Nursing home resident Mary Henson was under guardianship. The probate court entered an order setting a monthly allowance for Ms. Henson’s needs and another order authorizing the payment of certain expenses. Ms. Henson applied for Medicaid benefits in April 2009. The state granted her benefits effective April 1, 2009.

Ms. Henson appealed, arguing that the state should have found her eligible for benefits on March 1, 2009. Ms. Henson acknowledged that her bank account had $2,239.77 on March 1, 2009, but she argued that the probate court orders were encumbrances that should have been deducted from the account. The trial court affirmed the state’s decision, and Ms. Henson appealed.

The Texas Court of Appeal affirms, holding that the probate court orders were not encumbrances. The court rules that even if the law compels the state to treat a court order as an encumbrance against a bank account if the order requires the payment of a legal debt, the evidence shows that the probate orders in this case “do not operate to restrict [Ms.] Henson’s guardian’s ability to access any funds and that they are not orders requiring the payment of any specific legal debt.”

For the full text of this decision, go to: