"People often don't think about these things until something happens to someone they know, but when you wait too long, you create guesswork for the rest of the family," said Bill Dendy, an estate attorney, certified public accountant and financial planner.
Death doesn't discriminate, he said, so even young families should draft a will and other medical directives.
Be sure you communicate with the people you name on the forms, said Frye, especially the executor of your estate, the guardian of your children and the trustee to your accounts.
"Giving those jobs to your family members is a great honor, but don't let it be a shock to them when you're not around," he said. "It may be too much responsibility or they may not be in a position to take your kids. Make sure they are on board."