5@55 is a national educational campaign to encourage 55 years olds to get their "legal house in order." It is supported by lawyers from around the country as well as a book, 5@55: The Five Essential Legal Documents You Need by Age 55 (Quill Driver Books, 2015), which was written by two attorneys and partners in our firm, Judith D. Grimaldi and Joanne Seminara.
The 5@55 Campaign highlights the Essential Legal Tools every 55 year old must have in place to be legally prepared to age successfully and be protected in case of incapacity or death. The 5@55 program creates a legal life line with the following documents:
Age 55 is the optimal time to begin estate planning. Most individual family responsibilities to support children are ending. The focus can now turn to establishing a life plan for an individual’s later years. The need to plan for the future, take precautionary steps, make financial decisions affecting retirement and provide for major health changes, is a priority for people in their mid-fifties. The 5@55 Campaign makes age 55 the time to enter this important planning phase, similar to the way 65 is the accepted age to retire. The 5@55 Campaign creates a deadline and gives added impetus to those who procrastinate about taking these necessary steps.
We carry insurance to cover a wide variety of emergencies. People routinely purchase life insurance to cover dependents. In some cases the purchase of fire, theft and auto insurance is mandated. Heath insurance is a protection everyone seeks. We don’t give these purchases a second thought. And yet so many people skip the legal safety net of five (5) essential legal documents which make up the 5@55 Campaign. These five (5) legal planning tools ensure that our life choices and health decisions will have been made before we face a health or legal crisis. As with any other form of insurance, these legal documents can prevent future problems.
"People dread the thought of consulting with an attorney to gain this much-needed protection," says Judie Grimaldi. "Some resist because they fear that they will be giving up control of their life to the next generation. Many don’t want to face the potential problems which growing old may bring. "The attorney client relationship can be positive and productive when formed before serious problems arise." However, attorneys often meet those who have failed to act in a timely fashion, making their problems more difficult and costly to solve," says Joanne Seminara, Esq. The 5@55 Campaign gives you the incentive to work with an attorney to begin planning and avoid the crisis that failing to plan often causes. Further, planning in advance can keep costs down as well.
Because most people hold their financial lives close to the vest, the problems that arise because of poor legal planning usually play out behind closed doors. The 5@55 Campaign brings these problems out of the closet by offering real life examples and case histories that will effectively demonstrate why legal planning is so essential. The 5@55 Campaign identifies the pitfalls of not being prepared and demonstrates how using a skilled attorney can help you avoid future problems.
There are many types of general practice attorneys who may be able to help you draft these five (5) documents. However, some attorneys specialize in advanced legal or estate planning and have taken specialized courses and thus have the right skills to help you with this work. They are called Elder Law or Estate Planning attorneys. These attorneys have the specific knowledge and expertise to help those looking to plan for their later years no matter their age.
Laws regarding these five (5) documents vary from state to state. The 5@55 website (www.5at55.com) provides a list of Elder Law/ Estate Planning attorneys by state who have joined the 5@55 Campaign and have the expertise to offer you this targeted legal protection possible. If you live somewhere not served by an Elder Law Attorney on this list, go to the website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (www.naela.org) and click on the "Find an Attorney" tab to locate a qualified attorney in your community.
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