Law School Case Brief
State Dep't of Soc. Servs., Mo. HealthNet Div. v. Knight (In re Estate of Jones) - 280 S.W.3d 647 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009)
A proceeding under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 461.300 (2007) allows a decedent's estate to recover the value of non-probate assets when the assets already in the estate are insufficient to cover the claims of the decedent's creditors. The judgment recovered in a § 461.300 action for accounting is a monetary judgment for the value of the non-probate asset, which becomes part of the decedent's estate as defined by Mo. Rev. Stat. § 472.010(11). This monetary judgment is then distributed by the personal representative, just as all other assets in the estate are distributed.
During his lifetime, Decedent received Medicaid nursing home benefits from the State until he died on November 9, 2003, at the age of 92. Upon his death, his home passed to his children, Knight and Jones via a beneficiary deed. Because Decedent's home was his only asset, no estate was opened. The State sought for an accounting under section 461.300 of a nonprobate asset transferred by Decedent to his children. The probate court granted the accounting. On appeal, Knight and Jones claim the probate court erred in allowing the petition for accounting.
Was an accounting proper?
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The court held that, as a creditor within the meaning of § 461.300.10(1), the State was entitled to bring a petition for an accounting to recover the value of the non-probate asset transferred to the children. Further, because the judgment that the State could recover under § 461.300 was founded on the definition of "estate" in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 472.010(11), no expanded definition of "estate" was necessary and, therefore, the State did not need to amend the Missouri Medicaid Plan or promulgate a rule. Finally, the State's Medicaid application gave the decedent sufficient notice of its estate recovery program.
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