medicaid eligibility ruling

Medicaid Planning With An Elder Law Attorney

What is Medicaid Planning?

Medicaid planning is the process of planning ahead for the long-term care of elderly loved ones. It also includes crisis or immediate planning, but it is always best to avoid waiting until the last moment as that often leaves fewer options.  The process is intended to evaluate and plan for eligibility for Medicaid coverage either in a care facility or for at-home care. Eligibility considers a multitude of factors and has strict rules that must be followed to qualify for coverage.

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

Factors affecting qualification for acceptance into a Medicaid program commonly include:

– Income
– Assets, including life insurance
– Marital Status
Veteran’s Benefits
– Any other benefits that an applicant may be receiving.

This planning process can be relatively simple, but is often complicated, but can worth any trouble for the care and financial benefits. Much of the complexity in Medicaid planning is when an applicant’s income and/or assets meet or exceed the initial eligibility requirement limits.

How Does The Medicaid Planning Process Work?

There are several different techniques that are included in Medicaid planning to achieve these goals. 
The first goal of Medicaid planning, with the assistance of an Elder Law Attorney, is to ensure eligibility. The second goal is to save or protect as many assets as possible from being affected by the application process. One may also say, a third goal is to simplify or ease the application and acceptance process for the family. These goals go together.

planning for medicaid with elder law attorney– Asset Transfer Management
– Creation of Trusts, if needed
The Conversion of Countable Assets into Exempt Assets

These techniques are used to ensure that the family and/or healthy spouse of the applicant will have enough income while protecting their existing assets.

For example, in some states and for some Medicaid programs, homes and assets are not included in the asset calculation. However, a second property or vehicle that is used for recreational purposes will be considered countable assets. There are actually some strict options the law allows where a second property can be transferred to certain types of trusts or to another person. This can be complicated to complete without assistance, but the elder law attorney can assist in meeting eligibility criteria as well as protecting the asset.

transferring assetsIt is not possible to simply transfer all assets upon application in order to qualify for a Medicaid program. The history of the applicant, spouse and family will be analyzed in order to confirm asset transfers or trusts that were entered into with explicit means to be eligible for a Medicaid program. The law allows Medicaid to “look-back” five years for many programs and access qualification based on activity over that time.

Why Choose Elder Law Attorneys for Medicaid Planning?

As mentioned above, Medicaid planning is a complicated process with many factors that need to be considered. Each case must be evaluated based on its individual merits and circumstances. The specific Medicaid program and the rules that apply to that program must also be considered. Not to mention that the rules vary from state to state. Attorneys who focus on this area of the law should be well versed in all the intricacies and provide invaluable assistance in the process.

protecting assets with planningAn Elder Law Attorney will apply their expertise to the entire Medicaid planning process. This includes assessing each individual case, to completing and submitting the necessary documentation. Ensuring that this documentation is completed correctly, and its entirety can speed up the approval process. Not only is Medicaid planning complicated, but it is also a lengthy process.  An Elder Law attorney not only has expert knowledge of the eligibility criteria but also the laws related to Medicaid planning in a specific state. They know how to ensure asset and income protection while helping the applicant receive the best care possible with the assistance of a Medicaid program.

While there are other types of Medicaid planners that can assist with the application process, they do not have the same expertise as an Elder Law attorney. Often, they cannot employ the same techniques as an attorney to provide the best outcome for all parties involved. It is well-advised not to confuse some familiarity with the legal education, training, and experience of a lawyer who has researched, counseled and implemented hundreds, if not thousands, of plans before yours.

How Do I Avoid Mistakes and Penalties with Medicaid Planning?

Medicaid can penalize certain actions that are instituted to meet eligibility requirements or to protect income and assets. An Elder Law attorney will work with you to protect your assets and to avoid these penalties.

legal assistance– The look-back period is where an applicant’s past financial and other transactions are checked in order to ensure that measures are not being taken to hide assets, income or other benefits. While gifting can be used in planning, it is important to follow the rules when doing so.

– Planning is critical to putting measures in place to protect assets, income, and other benefits long before the application is made. Starting early with Medicaid planning may also reduce the length of the application process.

– Ideally, Medicaid planning should form part of a long-term estate plan. Discussing an estate plan with an attorney is critical to protecting wealth and ensuring financial security through retirement.

What Does Medicaid Planning with An Elder Law Attorney Cost?

The cost of Medicaid planning with an Elder Law attorney can range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. The cost associated depends on the complexity of the case, and the services provided by the Elder Law Attorney. It is only a benefit to use an Elder Law Attorney though when at least one of the goals, if not all three, can be met and worth the fee. It is important to note that these charges should be offset by the value that is received from the services provided. The long-term protection of assets, as well as income for a family or spouse, can have far-reaching consequences.

medicaid planning documentationAt Paths Elder Law, we highly recommend planning for Medicaid in advance before you have a need for nursing care. Advance planning is the best option in protecting your assets and your family to help reduce your out of pocket costs for nursing care. We focus on helping families by providing legal options that meet their long-term needs. If you or your loved ones need help with Medicaid planning, schedule a consultation with Paths Law Firm today.

Educational Seminar at Paths Law Firm

Paths Law Firm provides a Free Educational Elder Law Seminar every month to help you plan for your future.

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan Foley at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 2018 and passed the Missouri Bar that year. Prior to law school, Ryan attended the University of Missouri – Columbia where he attained a degree in Business. He is a Kansas City native, growing up in the Northland where he achieved his Eagle Scout rank by doing a project for his high school. During his time in law school, Ryan was introduced to the practice area of Elder Law by one of his professors and has been

Ryan enjoys working with and educating clients to provide advocacy and support during the unfamiliar and often overwhelming probate process. Ryan understands the challenges faced by individuals when faced by the uncertainty and complexity of government systems or even handling a Trust during a time of grief, and he strives to make the process as easy as possible.

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

administrative assistant at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

Makaylee is currently working on her bachelor’s in political science and hopes to soon start law school as an aspiring attorney. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family but most importantly her dogs Taffyta, Tallulah Belle, and Harry. Their favorite thing to do is go on coffee dates and get pup cups.


Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton, attorney at Paths Law


Kathleen E. Overton

After starting her career as a disability attorney, Kathleen transitioned into estate planning at a mid-sized regional law firm. Kathleen joined Paths Law Firm in 2021 when she decided to return to a boutique law firm that provides excellent service and quality to clients. Because of her background as a disability attorney, she brings a thorough understanding of public benefits to each client meeting. At Paths Law FIrm, Kathleen focuses on traditional estate planning and business entity formation, providing tailored advice unique to each client’s situation.

Public Benefits Assistant

Tena K. Dooley

Public Benefits Assistant

Amanda D. Martin

I have my Associates in Applied Science and have over 20 years of office management experience. I have two daughters and one grandson.

During my time away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy almost everything outdoors and my hobbies include fishing and gardening.


Sydney R. Morris

Paths Law elder law in Kansas City



Sydney is currently enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an accounting degree and plans to later attend law school.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her nephews and volunteering at her local church.



Christy L. Phillips

client service manager at Paths Law


Christy L. Phillips

Phone: 816-640-8635
Email: [email protected]

Christy has 3 years of experience in Elder Law working for seniors and their families as a Benefits Coordinator processing Medicaid and VA applications. Prior to joining Paths Law Firm Christy worked in the finance industry for over 10 years.


Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.


Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits


Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary


René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law



René has worked along side Rusty for 35 years. Not only is she part of the Paths team, she is also his wife. René spends her time working with the accountant to keep all of the finances in order, as well as general office management.

In addition to helping run the office, she helps manage the family and grandkids, tries to keep everyone fed, and has a passion to teach Bible Studies. Her former career in Event Planning trained her to juggle all the activity. She understands Rusty’s passion to serve people from the first mention of law school. It is a great pleasure for her to be an important part of every area of his life.



Hilary R. Tichota

Hillary at Paths Law



Hilary plays a vital role in the daily operations of the office. In addition to her regular office duties, Hilary has a heart of gold.

For more than 5 years, Hilary has operated the front desk at Paths, running the office and catering to clients. Hilary recently moved into the role of Community Relations Coordinator. She has a passion for people and a focus to share our business practices with the community’s seniors, businesses, and clients. She especially has a heart for seniors, showing they are loved through her visits, treats, the “Pen to Pal” program, and volunteering services at various senior living communities. She is a wonderful wife and mother of two. Most activities with seniors involve her great talent for any type of craft.



Jennifer A. Bronson

Jennifer, senior paralegal



Jennifer has been in the legal field for over 25 years and considers Paths her second home.

When she’s not running the office or working for our clients, she’s spending time with her first passion – her children.


Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

attorney at Paths Law elder law


Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

Phone: 816-640-8635

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings nearly 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was a practicing accountant. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty decided to put his focus on helping the elderly, vulnerable adults, and their families navigate challenging life, end of life, and death events.

Rusty understands the challenges faced by individuals whose capacity is declining and how upsetting the loss of a loved one can be. He understands he may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief from loss, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind. Rusty works directly with client’s long term care issues, including Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Special Needs Planning.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.


Practice Areas


  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education


BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City

Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate