Under Massachusetts law, MassHealth has an interest in the estate of a decedent that received recoverable benefits during his/her lifetime.
Any time you petition to probate the estate of a deceased family member, loved one, or friend in Massachusetts, you must send a copy of the petition to the Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance (“DMA”). If you hire a probate lawyer to help, the attorney will file a petition and take care of this detail but if you choose to probate an estate without legal counsel, notice to the DMA is required. The Petition for the estate must be filed in the county where the decedent resided at the date of death (Essex County, Middlesex County, etc.). The petition must include a sworn statement that copies of the petition and death certificate have been sent to the DMA by certified mail. M.G.L. c. 118E, s. 32. The purpose for the notice is to allow MassHealth its right to pursue recovery of any medical assistance or benefits the decedent received from MassHealth. If benefits were provided to a decedent while alive for which the DMA is authorized to recover, it can (and likely will) pursue recovery from the Estate.
A copy of the petition and a death certificate of the decedent must be sent to the DMA, for both formal or informal probate, by certified mail M.G.L. c. 190B s. 3-403(g). In a formal probate, the petitioner must give notice by certified mail along with a copy of the petition and death certificate. In an informal probate, M.G.L. c. 190B s. 3-306(g) requires the petitioner to give written notice 7 days prior to filing the petition.