You've worked your entire life to build up your personal assets. Don't waste that effort with an incomplete estate plan. Whatever you miss in the plan is like throwing money away. Hire an experienced estate planning attorney and make sure that you have all of the following covered.

Lay out Your Plan with the Attorney

Your estate planning lawyer knows the local, state and federal laws regarding the dispersal of a person's estate. Go over with your lawyer how you want to see your assets handled. They can advise you as to how your heirs will get the most value from those assets. In some cases, selling an asset and giving your heirs the cash is preferable to giving them the asset.

Specifying an Executor

You will also want to name an executor who understands your wishes. This person will make decisions about your estate in your absence. They track money that comes in to your estate after you pass and coordinates any bills that need to be addressed. You'll want to make sure this person knows of any special requests as they manage your estate.

Dispersing Monetary Assets

You can designate who gets what portion of any bank account balances, stocks, bonds, redeemable certificates and any other cash-based asset. You can specify individuals, groups or organizations to receive these funds. You can have your attorney help set up endowments and trusts to which some of the money will go. Both your attorney and the executor need to know any special provisions to make sure your financial wishes are met.

Handling Non-Monetary Assets

This covers real estate, cars, boats and other recreational vehicles. It is where you specify what to do with books, clothing, jewelry and items in a collection such as art, coins and stamps. This may be items that have a mostly sentimental value to your heirs. This could be an extensive section on your estate plan if you have large collections to disperse.

Miscellaneous Asset Management

Once you have the items listed in your plan that are important to you, you can specify how all of the remaining assets are to be handled. They could go to your spouse or children or even a favorite charity. Make sure you have everything you wish covered in the estate plan before making this blanket statement. You don't want a forgotten box of valuable family photos going to a charity.

Communicating Your Wishes

This is a difficult topic for which there is no clear answer. Should you tell your heirs what is in your plan? It could be beneficial for them to know ahead of time what to expect when large assets are involved, such as real estate. If family knowledge of your wishes will cause hard feelings, it may be best to have the executor and attorney go over your plan with them only after your passing. Once you have your estate plan finalized, discuss this with your attorney and executor to get their advice.