By the time you reach your mid-50s, there's a good chance you've thought about your own mortality. It appears that doesn't always translate into planning for the end of your life.
Close to half of people age 55 and older (45 percent) don't have a will, according to a study released Thursday by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. Just 18 percent have a will and two other key estate-planning documents: a living will and durable power of attorney (more on those below). That's despite a general consensus that people should have a plan in place by age 50.
"People know this is something they need to do," said Kevin Hindman, national trust executive at Merrill Lynch. "They know they need to organize their affairs, put their estate plan together, and they think it's irresponsible if they don't."