A recent poll has revealed that 60 percent of individuals between the ages of 47 and 65 have not drafted a will, while 66 percent do not have health care proxies. In Florida, having a health care proxy is the best way to ensure that one's wishes regarding medical care are followed in the event of incapacitation. Both wills and health care proxies are generally considered essential documents for proper estate administration, but many Americans seem to be neglecting them.

One expert believes that the problem stems from a widespread refusal from Americans to accept their own mortality. He explained that most people do not want to think about their own deaths, often only doing so after surgery or a life-threatening accident. Other life events such as the sickness of a loved one, birth of a child or a divorce can also spark people to take action.

However, the expert stressed the importance of estate planning before such events. Without the proper documents in place, an individual's estate may not be distributed according to his or her wishes after death, potentially causing problems for family members. If a person dies and no will exists, the state divides the estate and assets of the deceased according to its own set of rules, rather than the preferences of the original owner.

The poll's findings also suggested that there is a widespread misconception that wills and other estate planning documents are more useful for wealthy individuals. Only around 25 percent of Americans with annual incomes under $50,000 have wills, compared to about 50 percent of those with incomes greater than $100,000.

The main thing to take away from these findings is that estate planning is important for everyone - not just the wealthy and not just those who are ill. In fact, some say that people as young as 18 should consider creating a will. Establishing a plan now will make things much easier for both you and your loved ones in the future.

Source: LifeGoesStrong, "New Poll Reveals that Most Americans Seem to be in Denial About Dying," Karen Springen, July 28, 2011