143-126. Death of a person admitted; lien on estate.

(a) In the event of the death of person admitted, leaving any cost of care unpaid, then the unpaid cost shall constitute a lien on all property, both real and personal of the decedent and shall be payable from the decedent's estate as a fourth class claim after the payment of taxes to the State or its subdivisions.

(b) Upon the death of person admitted, the Department shall file a verified statement of account containing the following:

(1) The name of the person admitted;

(2) The date of death of the person admitted;

(3) The inclusive dates of the provision of care;

(4) The name of the institution providing care; and

(5) The amount of the unpaid balance.

The statement shall be filed in the office of the clerk of superior court in the county of residence of the deceased person admitted and in the county or counties in which real property is located in which the decedent owns an interest. The statement shall be docketed and indexed by the clerk.

(c) From the time of docketing, the statement shall be and constitute due notice of a lien against all real property then owned in whole or in part by the decedent and lying in such county to the extent of the total amount of the unpaid balance for the decedent's care as evidenced by the verified statement of account. Payments made by a fiduciary including those made by a clerk of superior court, in full or partial satisfaction of such lien, shall constitute a valid expenditure as provided in G.S. 143-119.

(d) No action to enforce such lien may be brought more than three years from the date of death of the person admitted. The failure to bring such action or the failure of the Department to file such statement shall not be a complete bar against recovery but shall only extinguish the lien and priority established by it.

(e) Upon receipt of the unpaid balance by the institution or Department or upon agreement of compromise of such unpaid balance, the Department shall notify the clerks of superior court in the counties where the lien has been recorded that the unpaid balance has been paid, and the clerks shall cancel the lien of record. (1925, c. 120, s. 10; 1967, c. 960; 1973, c. 476, s. 133; 1985, c. 508, s. 11.)