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Some important steps in estate planning

The National Association of Estate Planning & Councils points out that many people in the country don't have an estate plan in place. Around 120 million adults in the nation either don't have an estate plan at all or don't have an updated version; without an estate plan, you can face frustrations and problems at the end of your life and can leave the same to heirs.

One important step in most estate planning processes is creating a will. Wills provide you with more control over how your assets are distributed upon your death and let you name guardians for your minor children. You might also include information about things such as your wishes for burial arrangements.

Along with creating a will, you'll want to decide how your assets should be handled following your death. Depending on what your goals are, you might want other types of estate documents and vehicles created, including trusts. You'll also want to review the designations on any life insurance policies, retirement funds and bank accounts; you can designate a beneficiary for many of these types of accounts.

Finally, you can choose someone to execute your estate. You might choose a professional provider, but you can also choose a family member or friend whom you trust implicitly. That person can act as the executor of your estate with assistance from a legal professional when needed.

If you take the important step to create an estate plan, make sure your loved ones know about it. Ensure the executor knows where to access essential information when needed and consider letting family members know ahead of time what your plans are.

Source: Boston.com, "8 tips for estate planning," accessed Nov. 27, 2015

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