Estate Planning

For more than 25 years, Hawaii’s community has turned to the Law Office of Stephen H. Reese for representation in issues dealing with estate law. Whether you’re just beginning to plan your estate, need to make changes to an outdated estate plan, have concerns about changes in the law, or want to ensure your planning keeps up with your life circumstances, we’re here to help. We provide a complete package of estate planning documents at an affordable price to help get and keep your estate in order.

We work with each client on a personalized basis and tailor our services to each specific situation. Our firm strives to have each client understand the importance of proper estate planning, and our goal is to protect your rights. When you choose our firm, we’ll assist you in:

  • Understanding your options
  • Filing all necessary documents and paperwork
  • Taking steps to legally minimize the taxes paid by your estate
  • Ensuring property and assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes

When it comes to estate law, you can count on us to take care of the details. In most cases, The Law Office of Stephen H. Reese provides a complimentary consultation to discuss your planning needs. Call for an appointment today! 808-536-2800

Wills

A Will is a testamentary instrument that provides instructions on how you would like your assets to be distributed upon your death.

The terms of your Will designate who will be the Personal Representative of your Estate (the person responsible for settling your Estate) and the Guardian of your minor children, if any.

Upon one’s death, his or her Will must be validated by the Probate Court and a Personal Representative must be appointed by the Court before settlement of the decedent’s Estate can begin. The Probate Court process can be time-consuming and costly and is a matter of public record.

Therefore, a Trust is usually recommend as it can be kept confidential. If you pass away without a Trust or a Will, the Court will appoint a Personal Representative and distribute your property pursuant to Hawaii law and statutes.

In Hawaii, in general, a valid Will is in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by at least two individuals (generally competent to be a witness), each of who have signed the Will acknowledging the testator’s signature.

The testator and two witnesses must sign before a notary public. If the Will does not meet these requirements, the Will still may be found valid by the Hawaii Probate Court depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Revocable Trust

A Trust is a legal relationship that is created when:

A party (known as the “Grantor”, “Settlor” or “Trustor”),
– transfers property to a person or company (known as 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”).

Property includes both real property (such as land and buildings) and personal property (such as bank accounts, stock and bonds, and personal effects.

A Trust can be used to avoid probate, provide asset management, minimize state and federal transfer taxes, and ensure your assets are distributed at your death according to your wishes. A common form of a Trust is a revocable living trust whereby the Grantor retains the authority to make changes to the terms of the trust document during his or her lifetime.

During your lifetime, you can serve as the Trustee and remain in control of the Trust assets. Upon your incapacity, your Successor Trustee will manage your assets for your benefit. Upon your death, your Successor Trustee will ensure all last bills are paid, taxes are filed and paid, and assets are distributed as directed in the trust document.

Having a Trust allows for a seamless transition upon your incapacity and/or death.

Irrevocable Trust

A Trust is a legal relationship that is created when:

A party (known as the “Grantor”, “Settlor” or “Trustor”),
– transfers property to a person or company (known as 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”).

 

Property includes both real property (such as land and buildings) and personal property (such as bank accounts, stock and bonds, and personal effects.

A Trust can be used to avoid probate, provide asset management, minimize state and federal transfer taxes, and ensure your assets are distributed at your death according to your wishes.

As opposed to the more common Revocable Trust, (whereby the Grantor retains the authority to make changes to the terms of the trust document during his or her lifetime), irrevocable trusts cannot be modified once set up.

Irrevocable Trusts are created during your lifetime and are generally created to avoid estate taxes upon death; however, is also sometimes used as Medicaid or Elder Planning strategies.

As our gift and estate tax threshold remains high and annually increases for inflation, irrevocable trusts are becoming more and more uncommon. Although irrevocable trusts may be an effective tax planning strategy whereby excluding assets from your Estate, assets that are transferred to an irrevocable trust during your lifetime does not receive a step up in basis at your death. Instead, your cost basis (i.e., purchase price) will transfer with the property transferred to the irrevocable trust.

Advance Health-Care Directive

The Advance Health-Care Directive allows you to give instructions about your own health care, to name someone else to make health-care decisions for you, either immediately or only if you are unable to do so yourself, to designate your primary physician (optional), and whether you are a an organ donor (optional).

This form does not act as a Do Not Resuscitate, but instead informs the doctors of your end of life decisions such as life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatments and who you choose to advocate on your behalf if you are unable to do so on your own.

Choices are provided for you to express your wishes regarding the provision, withholding or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive, including the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration, as well as the provision of pain relief medication.

Durable Power of Attorney

 A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that appoints an agent (also called an attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf with regards to your financial matters.

An agent can be appointed for a very specific purpose (i.e., signing closing documents for real estate sale) or for more general purposes.

Your agent will have authority to manage non-trust assets while you are alive, but does not have authority to manage your Trust assets. The Power of Attorney terminates upon your death or its revocation.