There is nothing more important than estate planning in Hawaii. A will which ensures that after death, your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Without a will, distribution of your assets will be governed solely by the laws of the state. Your estate may pass to relatives who you would not have chosen to inherit.
Each person has different concerns which must be addressed by the lawyer preparing the will. These concerns may include estate tax planning, trusts for minor children, or your intent to exclude relatives whom you do not wish to inherit.
Most people also wish to have a durable power of attorney prepared, in which you name a person to be in charge of health care decisions such as remaining on life support if you are not able to communicate your desires to your doctors.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document. It gives instructions to be carried out after your death.
Why Should You Have a Will?
Unless you have made other provisions, such as a trust, your will is the way to make certain that your property is transferred or disposed of according to your wishes.
Your will is also the document that allows you to designate who will be responsible for seeing that your wishes are carried out. This person is known as the executor of your estate or your “personal representative.”
If you fail to make a will or some other legal document for the transfer of your property, state law will determine how your assets are transferred. If you take the time to prepare a legal will, it can save your estate money after your death, and more assets will be available to pass on to your heirs. A legal will also saves time in settling your estate. In general, everything is easier and smoother for your heirs with a will.
Your will is also the document that is used to nominate a person to be appointed the guardian of your choice if you have minor children (children under 18). In most cases, the courts will appoint the person whom you nominated. The person you nominated may not be capable of being guardian due to his or her own death or mental incapacity. In those cases, the court would appoint another person to be your child’s guardian. This happens most often when you name the grandparents as guardians and forget to update your will when they die or when they become mentally or physically unable to carry out guardian responsibilities.
What is a Hawaii Revocable Living Trust?
A revocable living trust is a document that determines who will inherit your estate. You may use a revocable living trust rather than a simple will in order to avoid the time and expense of probating your will through the court system after your death. In the trust document, you appoint a successor trustee who can distribute your assets to your heirs quickly, often within a matter of weeks. A revocable living trust may also help you avoid paying estate tax.