While the common thinking is that you should develop your estate plan regardless of age, health or wealth, not everyone follows this mantra. In fact, it’s easy for most people to ignore the need for an estate plan and continue to push it off to some nebulous future date. It is wise to legally make your end-of-life wishes known as tragedy can strike without regard to health, status … or your calendar.

The numbers aren’t encouraging, according to survey published by AARP. As a whole, the survey found that in the group of U.S. adults over 18 only 4 in 10 had prepared a will or living trust. The numbers begin skewing in favor of the preparations as ages increase. According to the survey, 81 percent of those 72 and older have worked to develop an estate plan. These results suggest that as people age, they being to clearly understand the serious nature of estate planning and work to ensure their documents are accurate and in place.

The study reinforced the notion that adults of all ages should have a will, trust or other estate planning documents prepared well in advance of a tragedy. The survey uncovered that 78 percent of young adults (those aged 18 to 36) do not have a will. Many of these adults have children. Without estate planning documents, it is impossible to clarify who you would want as a guardian for your minor children in the event of your death. Additionally, if you become mentally incapacitated due to a sudden, catastrophic illness or a devastating vehicle accident having stated who you wish to be your health care proxy or power of attorney can reduce a heated family debate into nothing more than a simple disagreement.

Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure you have completed the necessary documents. A legal professional can talk you through numerous contingencies and scenarios that should be addressed in your estate plan.