Given my previous career as a financial planner and investment advisor, I used to tell people to "do estate planning." With the recent passing of my father, I realized that there are lots of things you can do beyond meeting with a qualified estate attorney (which I highly recommend) to make the settlement of your estate easier for your heirs.

Prior to death, here are the basic documents you will need:

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

1. Will

2. Letter of Instruction

3. Power of Attorney

4. Health Care Proxy

5. Trusts (not necessary, but many people have either revocable (changeable) or irrevocable (not-changeable), depending on family situations)

6. "DNR" or "Do Not Resuscitate" order (this may need to be completed upon each new entry to a hospital or nursing home)

ACCOUNTS

1. List of all bank accounts

2. List of all user names and passwords

3. List of automatic pay accounts with name and contact information of each payee

4. List of safe-deposit boxes

5. 401 (k) accounts

6. IRAs, Roth IRAs

7. Pension documents

8. Annuity contracts

9. Brokerage account information (name, contact phone number and e-mail address)