Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Schmalz

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 12, 2019

In re the Matter of: Esther Schmalz and the Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Renville County Human Services.

          Renville County District Court File No. 65-CV-18-157

          Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Ali P. Afsharjavan, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services)

          Casey J. Swansson, Jon C. Saunders, Anderson Larson Saunders Klaassen & Dahlager, P.L.L.P., Willmar, Minnesota (for respondent Esther Schmalz)

          David J. Torgelson, Renville County Attorney, Olivia, Minnesota (for Renville County)

          Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Reyes, Judge; and Cochran, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Under the terms of Minn. Stat. § 256B.056, subd. 4a (2018), a community spouse's non-homestead life-estate interest is not salable unless the owner of the remainder interest intends to purchase the community spouse's life estate or the entire property is sold. When a life estate is deemed not salable, it is not considered for purposes of determining eligibility for medical-assistance long-term care benefits for the institutionalized spouse.

          OPINION

          HALBROOKS, JUDGE

         Appellant Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services challenges a district court order reversing the commissioner's determination that respondent applicant was ineligible for medical-assistance long-term care (MA-LTC) benefits. The commissioner asserts that the district court erred by holding that the value of non-homestead life-estate interests held by the applicant's community spouse is not considered available to the applicant for purposes of eligibility. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Between 1987 and 2002, respondent Esther Schmalz and her husband, Marvin Schmalz, sold three parcels of farmland to their sons by warranty deeds, reserving for themselves a life estate in each parcel. In 2015, then 85-year-old Esther[1] entered a long-term care facility while 93-year-old Marvin continued to reside at the couple's homestead property.

         In April 2017, Esther submitted an application for MA-LTC benefits, after which Renville County conducted an evaluation of the assets owned by Esther, the "institutionalized spouse," and Marvin, the "community spouse," as a step toward determining eligibility. The county determined that the couple's assets included homestead property, a checking account, the cash value of life-insurance policies, and the couple's life-estate interests in the three parcels of farmland previously conveyed to their sons. It is undisputed that the couple's sons do not intend to purchase Esther and Marvin's life estates and that there is no plan to sell the three parcels of farmland.

         Esther appealed the results of the asset evaluation to the commissioner of human services, challenging the inclusion of the life-estate interests. A human-services judge held an evidentiary hearing and issued a written order, adopted by the commissioner, concluding that the life-estate interests are non-excluded assets under state and federal law. The order explained that, despite being assets under state and federal law, the life-estate interests would not count toward Esther's asset limit for MA-LTC eligibility-when that determination was eventually made-because of an "exemption" in Minn. Stat. § 256B.056, subd. 4a, for life estates. The commissioner affirmed the county's asset evaluation and remanded for further action on Esther's application.

         On remand, the county determined that Esther's life-estate interests were not available assets for purposes of determining eligibility, but that Marvin's life-estate interests in the same parcels were available assets. Because, after deducting the maximum community-spouse asset allowance, the value of available assets ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.