The Case for Patient Advocates: Why You Should Consider Designating a Medical Durable Power of Attorney

Patient advocacy, or having someone speak on your behalf in healthcare situations, can be vital when it comes to ensuring you’re receiving quality care that meets your needs. One of the essential documents in an estate plan is a patient advocate designation which protects you and your family if you become incapacitated and are unable to make your own medical decisions. Designating a patient advocate isn’t required, but there are significant reasons why you should.

What is a Patient Advocate?

A patient advocate will make decisions concerning the care & medical or mental health treatment of the person.

A patient advocate is a person 18 years or older who can make decisions concerning the care and medical or mental health treatment of the person who has designated them as their patient advocate.

When you create a designation, you specify the nature of the powers your advocate will have. Your patient advocate can make decisions for you only after signing an acceptance and only when you cannot make your own decisions. Your attending physician must determine you cannot make treatment decisions.

Your advocate’s authority will be defined by the designation document you establish. Only after you have signed an acceptance and if you cannot make decisions on your own will your patient advocate be able to make decisions for you. This person is to act in your best interests to implement your expressed instructions and preferences. 

Reasons to Establish a Patient Advocate

If you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated, no one (not even your spouse or children) has the authority to make choices regarding your medical care if you do not have a valid patient advocate designation. To designate a guardian with the authority to make those decisions, your loved ones must petition the probate court, which consumes time and finances. This is a guardianship.

A durable power of attorney for health care protects you and your family in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself by confirming your wishes and appointing someone to make decisions on your behalf. Therefore, having one is essential, and it is vital to be sure it is valid in accordance with Kansas and Missouri law.

How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

Executing a patient advocate designation requires compliance with the legal requirements of Kansas and Missouri. Although an attorney is not required to draft one, it is never a good idea to do it without the guidance of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

A lawyer will explain the designation before you sign it and make certain that the document and execution comply with all legal requirements. A skilled attorney also ensures your paperwork is correctly executed and written to meet potential future issues. Your lawyer also can consult with you regarding these choices as there may be points you haven’t thought about.  Finally, using a lawyer ensures you understand the other documents, like a will or trust, that should also be a part of your estate plan.

Talk With Our Estate Planning Attorneys

Paths Law Firm attorneys assist clients with the full range of estate planning needs, including patient advocate designations. We’ve been providing legal services to clients for more than 25 years. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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Senior Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Senior Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

I am a Kansas City native who has also lived in Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Houston and St. Louis, before returning to the Kansas City area in 2018. I have enjoyed traveling and the knowledge gained from the opportunity of working in a variety of industries in an administrative capacity. I enjoy spending time with my three grown children and grandchild, gardening, scrapbooking, making painted cookies, and Chiefs football.

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Laura graduated from Columbia College with a bachelor’s degree in 2008. She currently lives in Independence, Missouri.

She is a professional photographer on the weekends where she specializes in all types of portraits.

Laura enjoys science fiction movies and books, hiking with her husband, volunteering for many organizations including the VFW, CASA, nursing homes, Friends of the Friendless, Park Board, Lexington Hope House, and Harvesters.

Laura has been married for 25 years and has a daughter, 24 and a son, 17. She is a very proud mom and wife.

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.

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Attorney

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.

Medicaid paralegal

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.

PARALEGAL

Sydney R. Morris

PARALEGAL

Sydney

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.

 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

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 has three years of experience in elder law working for seniors and their families. 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 the Senior Administrative Assistant. 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 the relationship she had with her grandparents.

When asked why she loved what she does, Christy said at Paths Law Firm, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite parts of her job are getting to know the clients and helping them get their questions answered.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has been with her high school sweetheart for 25 years and they have two beautiful children together. Her daughter works in the medical industry, and her son currently attends High School and plays Baseball.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and spending time with her family and friends.

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary

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

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René

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.

 

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary

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.

 

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

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.

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

ATTORNEY

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