Hawaii Estate Planning Honolulu Estate Planning Attorney
“Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” We cannot foresee what will happen tomorrow or twenty years from now, but we can, and should, do our best to plan for the future. Unfortunately, estate planning in Hawaii is a task people often procrastinate on accomplishing or do not consider until it is too late. This isn't surprising. The estate planning process inherently involves confronting unpleasant matters such as one's mortality, possible incapacity and even divorce. However, having a well-crafted, thoughtful estate plan can provide a peace of mind that is invaluable. This can be accomplished by using various estate planning tools such as:
Hawaii Trusts: The term "trust" refers to a form of transfer whereby a party (known as the "Grantor", "Settlor" or "Trustor") transfers property to a person or company (the "Trustee") to hold said property in accordance with the provisions of a written instrument (the trust document) for the benefit of one or more persons or entities (the "Beneficiaries"). A Trust is a versatile legal vehicle that can be used to accomplish many different objectives such as avoiding probate, providing asset management, effectuating testamentary wishes and minimizing state and federal transfer taxes. A popular form of Trust is a revocable living trust whereby the Grantor retains the authority to make changes to the terms of the trust document during the Grantor's lifetime. For example, this can be designed to benefit you during your lifetime and your loved ones after you have passed. In the event you become incapacitated, Trusts can also provide a succession blueprint that will allow for a seamless transition in managing your assets.
Hawaii Wills: A Will is a testamentary instrument that provides instructions on how you would like your assets to be distributed upon your death. Wills are subject to the probate process, which, depending on procedures taken and the complexity of the estate, can be time-consuming and costly. Probate is also a public process, so a Trust may be more desirable for those who value their privacy. However, the general public is rarely interested in ascertaining a person’s estate plan, so this is usually not much of a concern. If you pass away without a Trust or Will, your property will be distributed via intestate succession, which means your property will be dispersed pursuant to Hawaii law and statutes.
Power of Attorney in Hawaii: This is a legal instrument that appoints an agent (also called an attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf. A Power of Attorney can be drafted for a very specific purpose (e.g. signing closing documents for real estate sale) or grant your agent broad powers to act for you in a variety of situations. Your agent does not have the authority to manage assets that have been placed in your Trust. The primary objective of a Power of Attorney is to allow your agent to handle non-trust assets or issues while you are alive. The Power of Attorney terminates upon your death or its revocation.
Hawaii Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD): “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his (or her) own body.” – former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo. An AHCD (sometimes referred to as a “living will”) is a document that includes a healthcare power of attorney and provides instruction regarding the medical treatment you desire in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. This documents encompasses end-of-life decisions such as life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatments. A health care power of attorney allows another person to make healthcare-related decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself.
Hawaii Premarital (Prenuptial) and Postmarital (Postnupital) Agreement: Between 5,000 to 6,000 divorce actions are filed in Hawaii every year. So, though not a very romantic proposition, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a vital and practical part of estate planning for couples considering marriage. From an estate planning perspective, marriage often results in the co-mingling of separate property and property being jointly held. In the event of a divorce, a premarital or postmarital agreement can make an emotionally traumatic life event less daunting and nerve-wracking by setting rules on how property should be treated and divided. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can also alter a soon-to-be spouse's inheritance rights under Hawaii law such as their elective share.
Why should you get estate planning in Hawaii? A popular misconception is that estate planning is for elderly and/or wealthy people. However, anyone who has assets that could require management can benefit from some form of estate planning because we are all subject to the risk of incapacity and death. At the very minimum, an individual should have a Will, Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive. In the event of incapacity, these documents will assist in setting up a management scheme and the possible appointment of a guardian and/or conservator. Furthermore, your Will contains your testamentary wishes and, for parents of minor children, designates a guardian(s) for the children in the event both parents die prematurely.
Our Billing Practices for Estate Planning services. For some, a firm's billing methods and the costs involved with estate planning are a source of anxiety and trepidation. At the Law Office of Samuel K.L. Suen, LLLC, we believe in simplicity and transparency when it comes to billing and we take time to explain to our clients fees and costs involved. Our invoices clearly detail and describe every task undertaken on your behalf in an easy to understand fashion. For estate planning work, we charge a flat fee, which means we will complete your estate planning documents for a specified sum. Therefore, the time spent discussing your estate plan and the actual work is included in the flat fee. For any ancillary work related to your estate plan, we may use a flat fee or hourly billing depending on the task.
How we can help. Having a customized estate plan is vital because one-size-fits-all templates cannot adequately capture the nuances of a person’s family dynamics and financial situation. Avoiding probate, reducing transfer taxes, protecting your assets and ensuring they are distributed according to your wishes are fundamental reasons to have an estate plan. However, it is also important to contemplate how your estate plan will affect your family and loved ones in the future. Furthermore, having an estate plan will greatly reduce the need to seek a conservatorship or guardianship in the future. At the Law Office of Samuel K.L. Suen, LLLC, we use our trust and probate litigation experience to help reduce the prospects that your estate plan may be subject to future disputes or conflicts.
If you are interested in retaining our firm for estate planning services, please download, complete and submit the estate planning questionnaire that is to the right.
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