Under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993, each state had to develop and implement an estate recovery program.
Estate recovery is a program, required by federal law, whereby Medicaid members with qualified assets reimburse the taxpayers for long term care and home and community-based services provided through Medicaid. Funds are recovered from the member's estate, after death, for the cost of these services.
In New York, medicaid estate recovery is governed by Section 53 of Part H of Bill Number S2809. It states:
For purposes of this section, an individual's "estate includes all of the individual's real and personal property and other assets passing under the terms of a valid will or by intestacy. Pursuant to regulations adopted by the commissioner, which may be promulgated on an emergency basis, an individual's estate also includes any other property in which the individual has any legal title or interest at the time of death, including jointly held property, retained life estates, and interests in trusts, to the extent of such interests; provided, however, that a claim against a recipient of such property by distribution or survival shall be limited to the value of the property received or the amount of medical assistance benefits otherwise recoverable pursuant to this section, whichever is less.
In short: when Medicaid recovery happens it can target essentially all of the property in which you have legal title or interest at the time of death.
This law is a change to the old New York medicaid estate recovery system where Medicaid recovery was limited only to probate assets. Now, as the statute states, estate recovery may happen from any of an individual's "real and personal property" and other assets that can pass through a will.
To learn about what is the New York medicaid estate recovery law and its intriacies you are best advised to speak to an estate planning attorney.