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Marissa Wills is the Office Manager and a Senior Paralegal for  Shepherd Elder Law. Marissa graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business. Before coming to Shepherd Elder Law, she was an operations  analyst for a Fortune 500 corporation serving the legal community. Marissa has first-hand experience as a caregiver for her own  family  and is dedicated to serving the needs of the elderly.

Mark Munson  joined our firm in 2016 and principally advises clients in the areas of Elder Law, public benefits (including special needs trusts), estate and trust planning,  taxation, asset protection, & medical assistance eligibility. He also assists clients with probate and estate administration, trust administration, and guardianship.


Mark is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation and is an accredited attorney by the Veterans Administration, which allows him to advise and counsel clients on benefits for vets. Mark is very active within the professional Elder Law community and serves as a member of the National Board for NAELA (an elected position). He also serves on the steering committee for NAELA's tax section and is a member of its trusts and special needs trusts section. Mark received a B.S.B. (with distinction) from the University of Minnesota - Carlson School of Management and a J.D. from the University of South Dakota School of Law.

About Us

Marcia Van Buskirk has lived in the Kansas City area since moving from Ohio in 1985. She has extensive experience in customer service within the healthcare industry and joined our firm in 2016 as an Administrative Assistant. Marcia brings  her warm, professional, and friendly enthusiasm to our team. A mother of 3 and a grandmother of 3, Marcia is  passionate about helping others and loves working with seniors. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and kick boxing and is an avid sports fan.

Maria Benitez joined our firm in March 2016. Maria is a graduate from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, MO, where she completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Pre-Law/Criminal Justice & Political Science as well as her Masters of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Maria also has her Paralegal Certificate from JCCC in Overland Park, KS. Maria has previously worked for the Missouri Division of Youth Services and the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. Maria enjoys helping others and mainly assists the attorneys in the areas of estate planning, veteran's benefits planning, and Medicaid planning.

"Samantha Shepherd and her team at Shepherd Elder Law Group came into our lives at a critical point for our parents' care and life choices. I can say with heartfelt conviction that the firm's extreme skill (particularly in the area of veteran benefits) combined with creative caring, guided us to the answers we needed to move forward. I recommend the firm to you whole-heartedly."    Diane C

Grace Carrubba is the Director of Marketing for Shepherd Elder  Law. Grace has earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Pace  University. Prior to joining Shepherd Elder Law, Grace worked in  Marketing & Public Relations in New York City. Over the past  several years, she has been a volunteer at a local nursing facility  and now combines her passion to serve the elderly with her  professional expertise.

Janet Woodward graduated from Missouri Western State University and has a National Certification in Employment Services from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She has extensive background working with adults with special needs in the community and brings expertise in identifying the needs of our special need clients.

Colbi Chaffin is an Administrative Assistant with Shepherd Elder Law Group. Born in Tulsa, OK and raised in Lawrence, KS, Colbi considers herself a Kansas City gal. She attended both JCCC and Kansas State University. Colbi enjoys the multi-tasking aspect of her position and loves helping our clients. In her spare time, she stays busy with family and sports.

Shepherd Elder Law Group, LLC

In Kansas: (913) 333-3533

​In Missouri: (816) 979-3533

Dennis Fowler graduated from William Jewell College in 1976 and earned his JD in 1979 from UMKC School of Law where he was a member of the Law Review. Prior to joining Shepherd Elder Law Group in January 2015, Dennis practiced law with Stilley & Fowler, P.C.  in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, and business law.  Dennis has been married to his wife, Dianne, since graduating from college and they have three adult children and one grandchild. Dennis is pleased to have joined such wonderful and talented group of people at Shepherd Elder Law and is daily  learning  a great deal about the feminine mystique when he joins the all-female group each day for lunch. 

​​​​Samantha Shepherd is the founding attorney of Shepherd Elder Law Group, LLC. She actively practices in both Kansas and Missouri. Her practice areas encompass elder law, estate planning, long term care planning and asset protection, Medicaid and VA planning, trust administration, guardianships and special needs planning.


Samantha earned her JD in 1994 from Boston College Law School and subsequently earned her LLM in Estate Planning from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Ms. Shepherd is an officer on the Board of the MO Chapter of NAELA and serves as a member of NAELA's National Board (an elected position). Previously, Ms. Shepherd served as Chair of the Missouri Bar Elder Law Committee and as the President of the Missouri Chapter of NAELA. She is an active member of both the Kansas and Missouri Chapters of NAELA. She is a CELA, a Certified Elder Law Attorney, as designated by the National Elder Law Foundation. 

Maureen Lester joined our firm in August 2014 after a successful   internship.  Born  and raised in Overland Park, KS, Maureen graduated from the University of Missouri in 2009 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. After working in the insurance industry, she entered UMKC School of Law. During this time, Maureen witnessed the life and legal challenges that her grandparents faced as they were aging. This experience ignited her interest in elder law and helping seniors navigate the roads which they must travel. Maureen completed her law degree in 2014. She is a member of NAELA and has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Missouri Chapter and is an active member of the New & Transitioning Attorneys committee. Outside of work, Maureen is an avid runner with her faithful companion, Scout, a 4-year old Beagle mix.

Katy Achtenberg joined our firm as an Administrative Assistant. Katy grew up in Olathe, KS, attended Olathe South HS, and graduated from Emporia State University with  a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Katy has always been an advocate for individuals with disabilities and the elderly - a value she developed while observing the work of her father. Apart from Shepherd Elder Law, Katy continues to pursue her passion to help others while working part time at a group home for women with mental and physical disabilities.

Christine Santamarina is a paralegal at Shepherd Elder Law. She  graduated from Florida International University in Miami, FL but  has  made Kansas City her home for the past 16 years. She enjoys  helping people and mainly assists the attorneys in the areas of  estate planning, probate, guardianship, and Medicaid planning.