Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota's 2003 lien law creates fear: Moorhead woman fighting to keep farm in the family

ST. PAUL -- Sharon Grugel wants to make sure her brother can take over the family farm when their elderly parents die. The rural Moorhead woman fears a 2003 state law won't let that happen. The law gives the state first shot at the estate of many...

ST. PAUL -- Sharon Grugel wants to make sure her brother can take over the family farm when their elderly parents die.

The rural Moorhead woman fears a 2003 state law won't let that happen. The law gives the state first shot at the estate of many Minnesotans who use state-funded medical care.

"It's not fair, it's just not," she said Tuesday. "I expect more out of the state of Minnesota."

Grugel's parents, Orville and Lottie Scharp, will need nursing home care soon, she said. They established a life estate -- a legal provision that allows them to live on their farm as long as they want, then the farm automatically would transfer to their son, Kent Scharp.

The 2003 law, however, would place a lien on the farm for state-paid medical expenses that benefit the parents. Grugel said her parents' would need state aid within months of entering a nursing home.

ADVERTISEMENT

Grugel said her 87-year-old father -- who lives near Badger -- has not slept well since he learned the lien could threaten his plans to leave the farm to his son.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party legislators want to overturn the 2003 law. A state official said that is not needed.

Attorney Joe Rubenstein of the Human Services Department told the Senate Health and Family Security Committee that the department never has collected on a lien when property -- a home, farm or business -- goes to children after their parents' death.

"Our basic policy is what I call file and forget," Rubenstein said.

That isn't good enough for Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick. Future administrations may not let Minnesotans off the hook so easily, she said.

Republicans said a lien makes sense to recover money the state pays for medical care. "You are getting financial benefit from the public to support the cost of your care," said Sen. Sheila Kiscaden of Rochester.

However, Kiscaden said she wants to change the law to allow liens in the future, but not to affect estate plans like the Scharps already have in place.

If current law was enforced, Democratic lawmakers said they fear the liens would mean many families would have to sell their farms, homes and businesses instead of allowing them to stay in the family.

ADVERTISEMENT

"In some cases, the liens exceed 50 percent of value," Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said. "Some families might even be forced to suspend (state-funded) care as the lien value increases."

Marquart is joined by Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, and Lourey in sponsoring legislation to overturn last year's law.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

What To Read Next
Host Bryan Piatt is joined by Matt Entz, head coach of the North Dakota State Bison football team, to discuss the pressures of leading the program and how mental health is addressed with his players.
Artificial intelligence can now act as an artist or a writer. Does that mean AI is ready to play doctor? Many institutions, including Mayo Clinic, believe that AI is ready to become a useful tool.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack lists the various reason why some older adults may begin to shuffle as they age.
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football in January is urging people to learn how to save lives the way his was saved.