(a)  General rule.–Except as limited by subsection (c), the following apply:

(1)  Subject to paragraph (2), the personal property of an indigent person shall be liable for the expenses incurred by a public body or public agency for the support, maintenance, assistance and burial of:

(i)  the indigent person;

(ii)  the spouse of the indigent person; and

(iii)  each unemancipated child of the indigent person.

(2)  Paragraph (1) applies to personal property if:

(i)  the property was owned during the time the expenses were incurred; or

(ii)  during the time the expenses were incurred, there existed a cause of action which resulted in the ownership of the property.

(b)  Suit.–

(1)  A public body or public agency may sue the owner of property referred to in this subsection for money expended.

(2)  Except as set forth in paragraph (3) or subsection (c), the following apply:

(i)  A judgment obtained under this subsection shall be a lien upon the estate of the defendant and may be collected as other judgments.

(ii)  A claim under this section shall have the force and effect against the real and personal estate of a deceased person as other debts of a decedent and shall be ascertained and recovered in the same manner.

(3)  Paragraph (2)(i) does not apply to the real and personal property comprising the home and furnishings of the defendant.

(c)  Lien prohibited.–Except pursuant to the judgment of a court on account of benefits incorrectly paid on behalf of an individual, no lien may be imposed against the real property which is the primary residence of any individual or of the individual’s spouse on account of assistance paid or to be paid on the individual’s behalf.

(d)  Lien against proceeds.–In order to carry out the purposes of this section, the department shall have a first lien against the proceeds of any cause of action that existed during the time an individual, his spouse or his unemancipated children received cash assistance. Unless otherwise directed by the department, no payment or distribution shall be made to a claimant or claimant’s designee of the proceeds of any action, claim or settlement where the department has an interest without first satisfying or assuring the satisfaction of the interest of the Commonwealth. Any person who, after receiving notice of the department’s interest, knowingly fails to comply with this subsection shall be liable to the department, and the department may sue and recover from the person.