Every family and financial situation is unique, so you should choose an estate-planning attorney who is not only knowledgeable in the laws of your state that govern probate, wills and trusts but also one in which you feel comfortable sharing your most personal details.
To prepare your plan, your attorney will ask key questions, such as: Do you want your children to inherit equally? At what age do you want your children to control their inheritance? Do you have any concerns about how certain beneficiaries might handle an inheritance? Do you want to treat beneficiaries differently? Do you want an inheritance to stay protected from creditors or spouses?
You'll also be asked who should make financial and health-care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself, who you would want to serve as guardians for your children, and who should administer your plan on your incapacity or death.
Read MoreDon't make Uncle Sam your heir
Attorneys typically charge $3,500 to $6,000 for an estate plan. While this isn't an expense anyone wants to pay, it's far less than what your family pays to go through the courts to take care of you or distribute your assets on your incapacity or death.
—By Shannon Eusey, president of Beacon Pointe Advisors. Commie Stevens, J.D., managing director at Beacon Pointe, contributed to this article.