More than half of American adults don't have wills or plans for the future if they become unable to do it themselves. I was one of them until today, when Tony and I met with a lawyer to do estate planning.
Neither Tony or I have any parents left. They all died prematurely (in a variety of ways), so the idea of stating our wishes for the future legally should have been obvious to us. However, we kept putting off the task. Tony had a discussion with a lawyer acquaintance a while back who offered to help us out. Ultimately, though, we ended up choosing a different lawyer who was recommended by a friend.
We ended up going for the "complete package" of estate planning tools. Since we've been involved in too many long, drawn-out probate messes, a Revocable Living Trust (since it avoids the probate process) was important to us. We also wanted a Durable Power of Attorney to designate a person to make health care decisions in event of our incompetency, and a Living Will.
The process was actually easier than I thought it would be, and certainly less emotional. Tony and I were in agreement about the beneficiaries and who our trustees should be. The whole thing only took about an hour. We'll get drafts of all the documents in a couple of weeks; if they're acceptable, we'll stop by the lawyer's office to sign the paperwork, and then it's all set!
The next step will be to talk with our family and closest friends about what we've decided. This might be the hardest part of the whole process. Many surveys report that the majority of Americans rarely discuss estate planning--I'm determined not to be one of them!