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Safeguard Your Legacy With Our Austin Estate Planning Attorneys

Last updated on June 17, 2024

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it’s for everyone who wants to ensure that their wishes are honored and their loved ones are cared for. Estate planning is a gift to yourself and your family. It will give you peace of mind knowing that your future is well-planned.

At Warren & Kazen Law, we can help you achieve that security through a carefully constructed estate plan.

With over 25 years of experience, our Texas estate planning lawyers focus exclusively on estate planning, estate administration, probate proceedings and related services. We are passionate about these areas and offer a tailored approach. We care deeply about your concerns and will strive to make you feel supported. You can trust that our team will always be responsive to your needs.

When Should I Create My Estate Plan?

You can start your estate plan at any stage of life, but certain milestones often prompt the need for a comprehensive plan, including:

  • Marriage
  • Birth of a child
  • Purchase of a new home
  • Divorce
  • Birth of a grandchild
  • Retirement

These are just a few examples of when to consider creating or revising your estate plan, which should always reflect your current situation in order to effectuate your wishes.

A Helpful Estate Planning Checklist

Since estate planning involves creating multiple legal documents, losing track of your progress or goals is easier than you might think. The following checklist can help you stay focused and organized:

  1. Inventory your assets

First, list your tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets include real estate, vehicles, collectibles and other possessions. Intangible assets cover bank accounts, investments, insurance policies, retirement plans and business ownership interests.

  1. Consider future family needs

These three steps provide basic yet essential protection:

  • Create a will outlining your asset distribution wishes.
  • Purchase enough life insurance to provide for your family after death.
  • Name a guardian for your minor dependents to prevent disputes.

Estate planning is more than asset management during your lifetime; it helps to secure your family’s well-being after you are gone.

  1. Establish other directives

A will is not the only necessity in a well-rounded estate plan:

  • A revocable living trust to manage assets while alive and transfer them smoothly to beneficiaries upon death
  • Health care directives like a living will to preserve your medical preferences if incapacitated
  • Financial power of attorney to designate someone to manage your financial affairs if incapacitated

Legal guidance can help you determine what is right for your needs.

  1. Review beneficiary designations

Regularly update beneficiary designations on insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial products to ensure they align with your wishes.

  1. Understand the tax implications

Texas has no estate or inheritance tax, but federal laws apply. Learn about them, as they can affect the distribution of your assets. This step allows you to select estate planning tools and documents that minimize tax burdens.

  1. Reassess the plan regularly

Life changes like marriage, divorce, births and deaths can affect your estate plan. Have an attorney review it and update it accordingly to reflect any changes.

  1. Get professional guidance

We will work with you to develop a plan that protects you now and benefits your family when you are gone. We can also help you find a reputable tax or financial advisor to ensure your plan contains no weaknesses.

Choosing The Right Estate Planning Tools For You

Navigating estate planning law in Texas can be complex, but we’re here to help you select the right tools to meet your goals. Common estate planning tools include:

  • Wills: This document will express your wishes for asset distribution and guardianship for minor children.
  • Trusts: A trust can manage your assets during your lifetime and distribute them after your passing, among other things.
  • Powers of attorney: These documents grant someone you trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. They can include financial matters, such as managing bank accounts or selling property, as well as health care decisions.
  • Living wills: Also known as an advance directive, this document outlines your wishes regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate. It will help your health care providers and loved ones make decisions that align with your preferences, particularly about life-sustaining procedures.
  • HIPAA releases: This form allows designated individuals to access your medical records and discuss your health situation with health care providers. It ensures that those you trust can stay informed about your medical condition when they need to make informed decisions on your behalf.
  • Property agreements: These contracts can determine how property is categorized and handled.
  • Transfer on death deeds (TODDs): This legal instrument allows you to pass on real property outside of probate.
  • Family LLPs: These and other business entities can protect family assets and manage property within a family structure.

Each of these tools serves a unique purpose, and we can guide you in choosing the ones that best fit your needs.

When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

An estate plan is not a one-time task; it needs to evolve as your life does. Major life changes such as marriages, divorces, births, deaths or significant financial shifts should trigger a review and potential update of your estate plan.

Start Preparing Today For What Tomorrow May Bring

Creating an estate plan is one of the most significant steps you can take to prepare for tomorrow’s unknowns. Contact us, your trusted estate planning law firm in Austin, and let’s begin crafting your secure future together. Call 512-982-1141 or reach out online to get started.