If I can impart just one thing to you about the process, it’s this: I can’t stress enough how important it is to get help with the Medicaid application. Like a house closing or courtroom representation, the complexity and stakes involved call for knowledgeable and professional guidance. (And, I would add, a great deal of patience and empathy.)

For many seniors and their families, the stress of filing a Medicaid application often happens when faced with other unplanned crises—from choosing a nursing home or organizing home care to trying to protect a spouse from the extraordinary cost of long term care. Though it’s never too late to plan—even after a loved one has entered a facility—panning early and getting help in carrying it out will ensure that the process goes smoothly and ensures the best results.

It’s been my experience that while many people plan for a rainy day, most have not planned for the expense of living a long, pleasurable life in the manner that best suits their needs.