Wills and other legal documents to have before you die

What did Jimi Hendrix, Anna Nicole Smith, Steve McNair and Sonny Bono have in common? They all died without proper estate plans. As a result, their deaths became overshadowed by stories of relatives and lawyers launching legal volleys at each other during attempts to settle their estates.

They're not alone. Nearly 60% of Americans do not have a will or estate plan. Why? Because "they think they don't need it," says Noreen Perrotta, editor of Consumer Reports Money Advisor. But even if you have the smallest of estates, you should want your assets distributed your way. "Especially if you have minor children," she said. "You need to name a guardian. And in some states, minor children cannot hold assets, so they have to have a trust kick in as soon as they die."