(NewsUSA) - The need for advance directives or living wills first caught the public's eye as the nation watched the fate of Florida resident Terri Schindler Schiavo hang in a balance wrought with family hostility and debate.

And while most people don't like to plan for it or even think about it -- a matter evinced by FindLaw's survey that reports only that 44 percent of Americans have an estate will and still fewer, 36 percent, have a living will -- proper end-of-life planning is necessary.

Research shows promise, however, for Americans when it comes to end-of-life planning. More and more people are sitting down and making their wishes regarding pain management, life support and quality of life known.

If you are looking to take the steps necessary to pen your living will, here are a few tips from My Life Plan to get you started:

* Talk with your family. It is not only important to write down your wishes, but also to communicate them to your family, especially to your health care advocate or the individual in charge of carrying out your health care wishes.

* Consider your state's laws. Research and talk with your lawyer to ensure that your wishes are made in a format recognized by your state of residence.

* It's important to be specific. Consider the many decisions that will need to be made on your behalf as your write your will. Research living will templates, and talk to a professional to get an idea of how specific you need to be.