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AG Chris Koster | FAQs
Missouri Attorney General

Frequently asked questions of the Financial Services Division

Table of Contents

Estate Recovery

What is the Estate Recovery Program?

Medicaid and other forms of public assistance are available for Missourians in need during their lifetime. After these recipients die, the Estate Recovery Program seeks recovery from their estates if they have assets remaining. Debts owed to the Missouri Department of Social Services, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or the Missouri Department of Mental Health may be subject to estate recovery. The federal government requires estate recovery for Medicaid.

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Who is affected by the Estate Recovery Program?

The Medicaid Estate Recovery program may reach estates of persons age 55 or older who received Medicaid services. In addition, the program may reach estates for individuals under the age of 55 who were an inpatient in a nursing facility or similar institution.

For other debts owed, the State may pursue estate recovery regardless of the age of the individual or the types of services provided.

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How does the Estate Recovery Program work?

The Attorney General works with the Department of Social Services, and other agencies, to identify estates against which our office can file a claim to recover the state debt. In addition, the Attorney General may seek to open an estate for a Medicaid recipient who leaves assets but does not otherwise have an open estate.

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What types of property are subject to recovery by the state in the Estate Recovery Programs?

Any property, such as real estate, monies or personal property, that a person owns at the time of death in his or her name is subject to recovery through the estate recovery program.

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Are there exemptions from Estate Recovery?

The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program does not pursue recovery when the deceased leaves a surviving spouse, minor child under the age of 21-years-old, or leaves a child of any age who is blind or is disabled. The federal government also requires states to waive recovery if recovery would cause undue hardship, as determined by the state.

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What types of debts are collectable through the Estate Recovery programs?

Public assistance benefits paid to or on the behalf of an individual become a state debt owed from that person’s estate upon his or her death including, but are not limited to: Medicaid payments made to nursing homes, hospitals, home health care workers and physicians; general relief payments; and, blind pension payments.

Cost of services provided to inpatients at Department of Mental Health facilities, including daily rate charges, costs of medical treatment, and outpatient services such as counseling and treatment.

Other debts owed to any state agency either because of a judgment or demand from the agency that survive after death.

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What are the time limitations the state has to pursue recovery against an estate?

The state may pursue recovery any time an estate is open, or it has up to one year after the date of death to open an estate through the court.

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How do I know if the state has a claim against an estate?

If you want to know whether the State has a claim against an estate, you may contact the Cost Recovery Section at the Department of Social Services at (573) 751-2005. Or you may check the Missouri Case.net service.

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Missouri Incarceration Reimbursement Act (MIRA)

What is MIRA?

The Missouri Incarceration Reimbursement Act (MIRA) authorizes the state, through the Office of the Attorney General, to seek reimbursement for an inmate's cost of care. MIRA authorizes the state to collect up to 90 percent of the value of an inmate's asset or assets in order to pay for his or her cost of care.

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Who is affected by MIRA?

Any person who is under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Corrections, and is confined in any state correctional center, or who is under the continuing jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Corrections may be subject to a MIRA action.

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What are the recoverable assets under MIRA?

MIRA defines assets broadly. This definition includes any money received from a civil judgment and a "stream of income from any source whatsoever." Only $50,000 of the value of an inmate's homestead and $2,500 of wages paid while the inmate is incarcerated are excluded from the definition of asset. The state's right to recover under MIRA has priority over all other liens, debts, or other encumbrances against real property or any other assets which are part of an inmate's estate.

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Does the court take into consideration obligations to support dependents in an action brought under MIRA?

When determining an inmate's liability under MIRA, the court considers any legal obligation to support a spouse, minor children, or other dependents, and any moral obligation to support dependents to whom the inmate is providing, or has provided, support.

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Child Support

What is the role of the Attorney General's Office in child support matters?

The Attorney General's Office provides legal representation to the Family Support Division. Our office is committed to helping custodial parents and their children recover the child support to which they are entitled. When appropriate, the Family Support Division refers matters to the Attorney General. The assistant attorneys general do not have an attorney-client relationship with individual parties to child support cases, such as the parents, and can’t provide legal advice.

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How does the Attorney General get involved in child support cases?

We provide legal representation to the Family Support Division on cases referred to us by the Division. If you think your case is appropriate for referral to Attorney General Koster's office, please ask your child support caseworker.

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What types of child support enforcement does the Attorney General's Office handle?

Under an agreement with the Family Support Division, our office primarily handles the following types of child support enforcement cases:

  1. The non-custodial parent's employer fails to comply with an income withholding order issued by the Division.
  2. The non-custodial parent holds a professional license.
  3. The non-custodial parent has a pension or other retirement plan that may be available to satisfy past due child support.

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What types of modification actions does the Attorney General's Office handle?

The Family Support Division refers cases to the Attorney General to seek judicial approval on cases where the Division has initiated a modification at the request of a parent. The Attorney General may also represent the Division in modification cases where the custodian of a child is receiving public assistance. If a parent thinks a modification is appropriate on their case they should contact their caseworker.

Additional information is available online.

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What do I do if I am not happy with the actions taken by my caseworker?

The Family Support Division maintains a customer relations unit to handle customer inquiries:

FSD Customer Relations Unit
615 Howerton
P.O. Box 2320
Jefferson City MO 65102
(573) 522-3724

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Bankruptcy

Can I discharge a child support debt?

Under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(5), child support is not discharged in bankruptcy.

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Can I discharge a student loan debt owed to the State of Missouri?

Under 11 U.S.C. § 532(a)(8), student loans are generally not discharged in bankruptcy.

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Can I discharge a penalty?

Fines and penalties "payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit" cannot be discharged through a bankruptcy. 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(7).

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General Collection

What type of collection work does the Attorney General do?

The Attorney General collects many different types of debts, including fees, penalties, fines, assessments, loans, restitution, costs, and the like, on behalf of dozens of state agencies.

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Does the Attorney General handle student loan recoveries?

Yes, the Attorney General handles student loan recovery on behalf of several state agencies.

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What do I do if I have a delinquent debt that has been referred to the Attorney General for collection?

Contact the Financial Services Division of the Attorney General's Office to discuss this debt.

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Can I set up a payment plan to pay my debt to the state?

If your debt has been referred to the Attorney General for collection, contact the Financial Services Division to discuss a payment plan – it may be possible to arrange one.

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What information should I have when I call the Attorney General about my debt?

You will want to know what type of debt it is and the state agency to which you owe it. If you received a letter from our office, please have it ready when you call. If you want to set up a payment plan, you should be prepared to discuss your monthly earnings and expenses.

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Service on State Agencies

What are the addresses that should be used when serving a state agency?

Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 54.13(b)(4) provides for service on state agencies. The addresses for most agencies can be found through the State of Missouri Web site.

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