Glossary W

waiver of recovery – A waiver requested by a Social Security recipient when she has received an overpayment and feels that it would be too difficult to pay it back. This waiver must be requested within 60 days of receiving the notice of overpayment.   

Widow’s Benefits – Social Security insurance benefits provided to surviving spouses after the death of a fully insured recipient. The amount is approximately equal to the amount the decedent had received, subject to certain reductions.   

will – A written document which allows a person to control the distribution of his property after his death.

Glossary U

uncompensated transfer of assets – A practice whereby an individual gives an asset, such as money, to someone else so she can apply and qualify for Medicaid. The Department of Health & Human Resources assesses a penalty for such actions if done within a certain time period prior to applying for Medicaid.   

Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices statutes – Consumer protection laws designed to protect consumers from defective workmanship and fraud.

unsecured creditor – A creditor who does not have any ownership interest in the property purchased with the money loaned to the debtor. This type of creditor would have to take an individual to court in order to force him to sell something to pay the debt.

Glossary T

tenants by the entirety – A joint interest in land held by married people which entitles each to an equal interest in the whole with the right of survivorship. This type of tenancy can only be terminated by death, mutual agreement or divorce.

tenants in common
– A form of ownership whereby each tenant holds an undivided interest in the property. There is no right of survivorship.

terminal condition – An incurable condition caused by injury, disease or illness, which, in the judgment of the attending physician and a second physician, will result in death within a relatively short period of time.

testamentary intent – Intent that a document function as a last will and testament. For a will to be valid, the person who has the will must want to give the beneficiaries the property included in the will.

testator – The person for whom a will is created.

trespass – Unlawful intrusion onto another person’s property.

trust – An arrangement, administered by a trustee, whereby money or property is set aside for a designated beneficiary.

trustee – An individual responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of a designated beneficiary. A trustee may also be the beneficiary of a trust.

Glossary S

secured creditor – A creditor who has an ownership interest in property until the debt is paid. For example, a bank will often have an ownership interest in a car until the loan is paid off or in a house until the mortgage is completely paid.

security deposit
– A sum of money, usually given to a landlord at the beginning of a lease, to protect the landlord in the event that the tenant damages the property or breaks the lease.

self-proving will – A will which has affidavits attached to it certifying that the testator was of sound mind.

Specified Low-Income Beneficiary (SLIMB) – A Medicare recipient who qualifies for one of several Medicare savings programs, also including QMB and QI, that help the recipient pay the costs of Medicare. The state pays a SLIMB’s Part B Medicare premium.

Social Security Disability Insurance – Payments given to individuals unable to work due to illness or injury.

Social Security Retirement Benefits – Cash benefits given to retired workers, their dependents and survivors as part of a federal social insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration.

spend down – An amount that an individual must spend on his or her own medical care, beyond which Medicaid will pay for the medical bills incurred. Spend down is similar to a deductible except that each individual’s spend down is based on his own income and medical expenses. A person’s spend down amount is calculated every six months.

springing power of attorney – A power of attorney that essentially “springs” into action once an event occurs, usually the person’s incapacity.

sublet – To transfer a tenant’s interest in rental property to a third person for a period of time shorter than the lease term. After the sublease ends, the interest reverts back to the tenant.

Supplemental Security Income – (SSI) A need-based federal program of cash assistance for aged, blind, and disabled individuals who have little income and few assets.

Surviving Spouse Benefits – See widow’s benefits.

survivorship – Where one person becomes entitled to property by reason of his having survived another person who had an interest in it, without having to go through probate. Joint tenants and tenants by the entirety are entitled to the right of survivorship. This is often, but not always, the way married couples in West Virginia own property.

Glossary R

remainder – The interest in property that is left after a life estate ends.

remainderman – An individual who has the interest that is left in property after a life estate ends.

representative – See attorney-in-fact.

representative payee – Someone who receives an individual’s Social Security benefits on behalf of that individual and who is required to use them solely for the person’s benefit

Glossary Q

Qualifying Individual (QI) – A Medicare recipient who qualifies for one of several Medicare savings programs, also including QMB and SLIMB, that help the recipient pay the costs of Medicare. For a QI-1,the state pays the Medicare recipient’s monthly Part B premium.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) – An order that allows an alternate payee, (usually a spouse, a former spouse, a child, or other dependent) to directly receive all or part of an individual’s pension benefits.

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) – A Medicare recipient who qualifies for one of several Medicare savings programs, also including SLIMB and QI, that help the recipient pay the costs of Medicare. The state pays a QMB’s Medicare’s premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance based on the recipient’s income.

Glossary P

Peer Review Organization (PRO) – An enforcement organization in the Medicare program which monitors compliance with regulations and reviews applications.

Period of Consideration (POC) – The six-month period within which Medicaid calculates an individual’s spend down amount.

persistent vegetative state – A permanent and irreversible state as diagnosed by the attending physician and a second physician in which an individual has intact brain stem function but neither self-awareness nor awareness of his/her surroundings in a meaningful manner.

power of attorney – An advance directive which designates a trusted adult to make medical and/or financial decisions for an individual.

Preneed Guarantee Fund – A fund which reimburses people who lose money in pre-pay funeral contracts.

principal – When referring to money, the amount on which interest is earned or paid. In an advance directive, the individual who authorizes someone else to act as an agent on his or her behalf.

probate – After a person dies, the process in which his or her assets are collected, debts are paid, and the remainder is distributed to the heirs.

prove (a will)
– To determine that the will conforms to the guidelines set by law.

Public Service Commission (PSC) – A commission created by the legislature which supervises and regulates public utilities and cable television.

purging statute
– A West Virginia law which allows beneficiaries of a will to be witnesses as long as they forfeit their share of the estate.

Glossary N

notary public – A public officer who attests to and certifies the authenticity of signatures.

nuisance – A condition, activity, or situation that interferes with the use or enjoyment of property.

nuncupative will – See oral will

Glossary M

Medicaid – A need-based medical assistance program for people who cannot afford to pay for their medical care.

medical power of attorney – An advance directive that designates a person to make health care decisions for an individual if he is unable to make those decisions for himself.

Medicare + Choice – Known also as “Part C” of Medicare coverage plans; an expanded set of options including a Medicare managed care plan or Private Fee-for-Services plan, which can include extra benefits, but with the drawback of possibly having to pay more money, or only being able to go to certain doctors or hospitals.

Medically Needy Income Limit (MNIL) – The amount of income needed for monthly living expenses according to Medicaid legislation. Currently, this amount is $200 in West Virginia.

Medicare – A government-sponsored, state-operated health care program available to anyone who is at least 65 years old. It includes both hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B).

Medigap – Supplemental insurance which covers the “gap” when Medicare will not pay for coverage.

Glossary L

Lemon Law – A West Virginia law that protects buyers of new cars by allowing refunds for cars which are inherently faulty.

lien – In property law, an interest in the proceeds of the sale of particular property.

life estate – Ownership of property which only lasts as long as the person is alive. After the death of the life tenant, the property either goes back to the grantor or passes to the remainderman.

life-prolonging intervention – Any medical procedure which serves only to artificially prolong the dying process or maintain the person in a persistent vegetative state.

liquidation bankruptcy – See Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

living will – A document created before a person becomes incapacitated which says that in the event that he is ever terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state, it is his wish not to receive life-prolonging intervention.

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) – A state program administered by the Department of Health and Human Resources which distributes federal money to eligible individuals who are unable to pay for their utilities. This assistance only applies to utilities related to heating, such as gas, electricity, oil and wood burning.

Glossary J

joint tenants – Two or more people who have an equal, undivided interest in a piece of property with the right of survivorship.

Glossary I

In Forma Pauperis – The permission given to a poor person to proceed in court without incurring court fees or costs. The form to complete is often called a Pauper’s Affidavit.

incompetence – The inability, because of physical or mental impairment, to appreciate the nature and implications of a decision, or to make an informed choice regarding the alternatives presented and to communicate that choice unambiguously.

indigent – Being financially unable to support oneself.

insurable interest
– An interest in specific property to such a degree that the individual gains an advantage or benefit by its preservation and continued existence, or would sustain a substantial loss from its destruction.

interlineations – The act of writing between the lines of a document, such as a will.

intestate – Dying without a will.

irrevocable trust
– A trust that an individual sets up which restricts his or her access to the principal.

Glossary H

health care surrogate – A person appointed by a health care professional to make health care decisions for an incapacitated individual.

holographic will
– A will entirely in the handwriting of the testator.

homestead exemption
– In determining eligibility for Medicaid, this provision allows an individual to exempt her residence, as long as she has the intent to return home.

Glossary G

garnish – The practice of having an employer hold back a portion of an individual’s wages in order to satisfy a debt.

grantor – The person who conveys property to another person.

guardian – An individual appointed by the court to manage the personal affairs of an incompetent person.

Glossary F

family protective order – A court order that orders an abuser to refrain from making contact with the victim of abuse.

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) – The federal law that sets Social Security taxes and benefits.

foreclosure – The procedure by which a mortgagor terminates the rights of the mortgagee regarding the possession of property.

Glossary E

easement – The right to use another person’s property for a specific, limited purpose.

elect against a will
– A petition to the court by a surviving spouse which asks it to disregard the deceased spouse’s will and award the surviving spouse an amount of the estate set by law.

elective share amount – The amount, set by law, that a spouse will collect if he or she elects against the spouse’s will; the particular amount varies depending upon the number of years of marriage.

Emancipate – to set free from the power or authority of another. For example, children are normally emancipated (from the governance of their parents) at the age of 18.

Eminent domain
– The power of the state to take a citizen’s land without the citizen’s consent. The government provides monetary compensation to citizens whose land is taken through eminent domain.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
– A Federal Act which governs the funding, vesting, administration and termination of private pension plans.

escrow account – In landlord-tenant relations, a bank account in which a tenant deposits rent money during a pending legal action concerning the rental property. The landlord may not get the money until a particular condition is fulfilled.

estate – The sum of a person’s personal property, land, and debts.

estate recovery
– In Medicaid, the practice by which states attempt to recoup the costs of long-term care and related services by filing a claim against the estate of the Medicaid recipient after his or her death.

executor – A person appointed to carry out the instructions of a will.

Glossary D

descendant – Usually an individual’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

disinherit – To exclude from a will, when the excluded individual would otherwise be an heir.

do-not-resuscitate order – A written document from a physician which states that CPR is not to be administered to an individual in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest.

durable power of attorney
– A document which gives someone the power to manage an individual’s financial affairs.

duration of stay contract
– A forbidden practice whereby nursing homes try to make a person pay privately for a period of time before applying for Medicaid.

Glossary C

cease letter – A letter sent to a person describing the offensive activity and requesting that the activity stop. A cease letter is sometimes sent to ask a collection agency to stop calling a debtor.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy – Also known as liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of debts whereby no payment is made on most debts, with the exception of taxes, some intentional torts, some support obligations and some student loans.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy – A reorganization that provides for payment of a portion of some debts and all of certain debts such as home mortgages. An individual must meet certain requirements to qualify for this type of bankruptcy.

codicil – A supplement or addition to a will that explains, modifies, or revokes certain provisions.

committee – In past West Virginia law, a person appointed to manage the affairs of a protected person. Now called Guardian/Conservator.

common law
– Law made by judges and courts rather than through legislation or regulation. When there is no statutory or constitutional authority on an issue, judges have the duty to make a decision. The decision the judge makes creates precedent that is used to determine the outcome of similar future cases.

condemnation (property law) – the process by which a public utility takes private land by public domain.

conservator – An individual appointed to manage the affairs of an incompetent person.

co-payment – In Medicare, the portion of a doctor’s bill that the individual is responsible for paying (not covered by Medicare).

countable asset
– Assets that an individual (or spouse, if any) owns and could convert to cash to be used for his or her support and maintenance. Some assets are excluded when determining whether an individual qualifies for certain government benefits such as SSI or Medicaid.

current maintenance
– basic expenses of living such as food, rent, transportation, clothing and other everyday expenses.

custody– possession of something or someone. A parent who has custody of a child is called the custodial parent.

Glossary B

bankruptcy estate – All of an individual’s assets at the time he or she files for bankruptcy.

bedhold – A fee charged by nursing home facilities to reserve a resident’s bed for a temporary period of time while the resident leaves for medical or personal reasons.

beneficiary – An individual for whose benefit a trust is created; also, an individual named to receive profits, benefits, or advantage in a will.

Glossary A

Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) – A document that is an agreement that the patient will pay for a health care service if Medicare does not pay for it. Health care providers are required by law to present the agreement and have the patient sign the ABN on each visit the potentially uncovered service is performed or used.

advance directives
– Documents that make instructions about what is to happen in the event that you can no longer make decisions for yourself; these documents include a living will and a medical power of attorney.

administering an estate
– The management and distribution of a deceased person’s estate.

Administrative Law Judge – An official who presides at an administrative hearing and who has the power to administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make factual and legal determinations.

affidavit – A sworn statement or declaration put in writing and notarized.

Aged & Disabled Medicaid Waiver Program – An alternative to nursing home care which allows an individual to hire a health care professional to come into her home to take care of her.

appraisal – Putting a value on the assets of an individual.

assets – Everything which can be made available for the payment of debts.

assign – In rental property, a transfer of the entire interest remaining in a lease.

– archaic term for a person appointed in a power of attorney who is responsible for managing the individual’s affairs, now called Agent.

augmented estate
– In the law of wills and estates, it includes all property from which the deceased benefitted.

automatic stay
– A stay which bars all debt collection efforts against the debtor; it takes effect immediately after filing bankruptcy.