Estate planning might seem as if it is making headlines more and more frequently. From when to consider creating wills to how to handle digital assets, information is everywhere. Despite this, some people in West Virginia still do not fully understand the importance of wills, powers of attorney and other essential estate planning documents.This is particularly true for a certain age group.

While most people might expect younger generations to struggle with the concept of a finite life and the need of estate protections, few might expect those over the age of 55 to deal with the same issues. Merrill Lynch and Age Wave recently conducted a study of 3,000 people over the age of 55 and discovered that many lack important estate planning protections. Despite a prevailing consensus that it is best to implement an estate plan before turning 50, only 55 percent of people in this age group have a will.

A will is a good place to start, but it might not be enough to fully protect individual interests. A living will can outline a person’s end-of-life wishes, ensuring that the individual is not subjected to medical care that he or she is not comfortable with. A durable power of attorney gives an individual the legal right to make decisions according to the living will. Having a will, living will and a durable power of attorney affords better protection than a will alone, and yet only 18 percent of people in the study reported that they had all three.

Most of the respondents in the survey admitted that they thought estate planning was important and that they were open to discussing it with loved ones, but few were apparently able to make the leap from just thinking to doing. This might be because most people in West Virginia feel as if there will always be a tomorrow. While confronting mortality is an uncomfortable matter, those who take the time to establish wills and other important documents can feel assured that they will be well protected no matter what happens.