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Although the thought might be uncomfortable, the reality is that no one can escape death, so it is best to be prepared. Most people in Tennessee would probably agree that estate planning is an important part of being prepared, but are people following through with this notion? According to one study, not really.

The study from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave looked at the prevalence of estate planning among Americans who are 55 or older. They discovered that only 55 percent of people in this age group have a will. Wills are the bare minimum when it comes to estate planning, though. For most people, the combination of a will, living will and durable power of attorney can provide the best protection both before and after death. Only 18 percent older than 55 have all three.

One of the people involved with the study noted that most people acknowledge how important estate planning is. Of the 3,000 study participants, 90 percent said they were open to the idea of talking about their end-of-life wishes with their loved ones. However, this apparent willingness to tackle difficult topics did not necessarily translate into action.

What about those who say that they do not care about their end-of-life health care or what happens to their assets after they are gone? These individuals probably still care about their loved ones, and they can make tackling difficult decisions — such as medical decisions or how to distribute property — easier through estate planning. The combination of a will, living will and power of attorney is often a good place for Tennessee residents to start.