Services :: Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process in which individuals create a strategy and execute a Will and other documents such as Trusts, Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA and a Physician's Directive for the administration of his or her assets upon their incapacity or death.

Estate Planning is a process which is composed of a team of a variety of professionals such as your lawyer, accountant, financial planner, Life Insurance advisor, banker and your broker.

Estate Planning can Cover Issues like:

Wills - A Will provides:

  • for the distribution of your property owned by you at the time of your death. If you do not have a Will then the State of Texas will distribute your property according to the Intestate Laws of Texas.
  • A Will is also used to name the guardian of your minor children
  • It names a person called an Executor to help distribute your assets as per your wishes in your Will
  • You can also have a testamentary Trust in your Will in the event your assets go to a minor

Trusts - What can they do?

  • A Trust can be used to keep assets out of the Probate Process
  • A Trust can be used to help reduce taxes of an Estate
  • A Trust can be used to hold assets that may be willed to a minor beneficiary
  • A Special Needs Trust can be used to shield an inheritance for a disabled person so he or she will not lose government benefits by inheriting assets, thereby putting them over the $2000 asset limit imposed by SSI and Medicaid.

Assets Outside of Probate

  • Retirement Accounts, Annuities, Life Insurance and POD bank accounts are outside of probate and go directly to the beneficiaries named on the accounts or policies.

Other Planning Documents

  • Power of Attorney - If you die or become incapacitated from an accident, then your spouse may need to help with financial, and possible business, transactions in which the other spouse may be involved. Things such as talking with credit card companies or dealing with bank accounts cannot be taken care of unless you have the Power of Attorney naming the other spouse as an agent. If you do not have the Power of Attorney, the bank will not talk to you. The only way to get around this requirement is to apply for temporary guardianship of the incapacitated person assuming that they will recover.
  • Medical Power of Attorney – If your spouse or adult child is in an accident, is incapacitated and taken to the hospital and you do not have a Medical Power of Attorney, the medical facility is not supposed to talk with you about their condition and you have no right to help decide on how your spouse is to be treated even though you are married to him or her.
  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) - this document is needed in the event you want to call a medical facility and request medical records on your loved one or spouse. Without this document naming you, this is not possible unless you go to court and get a court order.
  • Physician's Directive - Sometimes called a 'living will', this document will inform a doctor in the event you become incapacitated the kind of medical treatment you want or may not want.

 Each family has their own situation, their own needs. Let The Handley Law Office help you determine the right path for you and your family, now and in the future. 281.703.3616 or

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