Estate planning involves the planning for the distribution of your assets after you pass away using a Will and/or a Trust. It also involves planning for your own care and the management of your assets during any time when you cannot communicate due to illness or mental disability.
Even if you do not have a lot of assets or high financial worth, you still need a Will or Trust and durable Powers of Attorney. You can benefit by planning for any incapacity issues to make sure that your financial and health care decisions are made when you are unable to communicate your wishes.
A Will is a written instrument that states who will inherit property when you die. Hawaii intestacy law governs if you do not have a written Will. Hawaii intestacy law will primarily give property to a surviving spouse, parents and children. If there are children from a prior relationship, intestacy law would give part of the assets to the surviving spouse and part of the assets to the children from a prior relationship. If there is a Will, intestacy law would no longer apply and you would decide who gets your assets.
A Trust is another document that states who gets your assets when you pass away and can also be referred to as a "Will substitute". Having a trust can avoid probate where the Court process administers a Will. If there is only a Will, the document would go through a Court process to distribute your assets and includes Court oversight, delays and additional legal expenses.
A durable Power of Attorney appoints someone to manage your assets and make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated.
Come and see me in Kailua-Kona for legal advice you can count on.
For sound legal advice, and to understand the law in Hawaii, contact the Law Offices of Kimberly A Jackson in Kailua-Kona.