Honolulu Will Attorney
Protecting Legacies in Hawaii
Many films and television shows dramatically feature the discovery or reading of a will as a crucial plot point. Pop culture is not wrong to emphasize this document’s importance: The last will and testament is an essential component of any comprehensive estate plan.
Our living will lawyer in Honolulu can assist you with formalizing these decisions as part of your estate plan. We are extensively familiar with how to finalize your will in Hawaii and know how to avoid common mistakes that can cause issues for your family in probate.
Do You Need a Will in Hawaii?
When you pass away, someone has to get your property. If you have minor children, someone – if not their other parent – will need to take care of them. You can make decisions about how these matters will be handled in your will.
Why Do You Need a Will:
- Beneficiaries to your assets. You can choose to leave your Honolulu property to as many or as few people or organizations as you please.
- A guardian for your minor children. In the event that your children’s other parent is not alive or available, you have the right to appoint a guardian to care for your children.
- A personal representative of your estate. This person, sometimes called the executor, will be responsible for managing probate and ensuring your final wishes are honored.
What Happens When Someone Dies without a Will in Hawaii?
If you pass away without a finalized will, you get no say in who will care for your children or who will receive your property. Instead, your estate will be subject to Hawaii’s intestacy laws. Your most immediate surviving relatives will inherit your assets, and the court will appoint a guardian without any input from you. Our Honolulu will attorney at Abrell Law can help you avoid this outcome by preparing and finalizing an enforceable document.
Protecting Your Legacy & Loved Ones Involves Deciding:
- Who will receive your assets
- Who will care for your minor children
- And who will oversee your estate once you have passed away
It is important to recognize that wills come with certain caveats.
Disadvantages of a Will:
- The contents of your will – including your assets and beneficiaries – will eventually be made public as part of the probate process.
- You also have no flexibility in how and when assets will be distributed, all estate assets must be dispersed at the conclusion of probate.
- Planned inheritances facilitated by a will could also be imperiled by outstanding debts at the time of your passing.
- The probate court may require your personal representative to use estate assets – including property intended for your loved ones – to settle these obligations.
Alternatives to a Will
Despite the above limitations, your will is still a powerful and crucial document, but it should not necessarily be the only element of your estate plan. For example, a living trust can serve as a powerful alternative to your will. These tools also allow you to distribute assets after you pass away, but a trust’s contents are private and not subject to probate. If you are concerned about debt or litigation, our Honolulu will attorney can also help you explore asset protection solutions.
Is Probate Required in Hawaii?
Probate is required in instances where an individual’s estate is worth $100,000 or more in value or the property is solely owned. However, if you have a smaller estate the probate process can be simplified. This can be done on estates that are less than $100,000. Additionally, if you have a living trust or jointly owned property, probate can be avoided.
If you have any questions regarding how the probate process will work with your will, don't hestitate to contact the highly-qualified Honolulu attorney at Abrell Law in Hawaii.
How to Finalize Your Will in Hawaii
Typing up who you wish to leave your assets to on your computer does not in and of itself constitute a valid will. A will must meet certain legal requirements in order to be enforceable. Hawaii does not accept digital, audio-based, or video-based wills. This means that you must print and safely store a hard copy of any will that you type out on your computer. Hawaii does in some circumstances honor handwritten wills, but this approach is risky. It is almost always advisable to type and print your will
What Makes a Will Valid in Hawaii?
- You can finalize your will so long as you are of sound mind and at least 18 years old.
- You must also sign your will in the presence of at least two witnesses who must then sign the document themselves. If possible, you should avoid using witnesses who are named in your will as beneficiaries.
You do not necessarily have to notarize your will, but doing so may not be a bad idea. Doing so makes your will “self-proving,” which means the probate court will not need to contact your witnesses to confirm the validity of the document.
Does a Will Need to Be Updated?
After drafting and finalizing your will, the work is not yet done. Your will is only a reflection of your wishes at the time you wrote and signed it. As you grow older, your wishes will likely evolve, and your will should be modified to reflect those changes.
How to Update Your Will:
- When you are ready to update your will, you should in most cases revoke your out-of-date document and finalize your new draft. You can revoke an old draft either by physically destroying the document or specifying that the previous draft is revoked in your new will.
- If you get divorced, any language in your will involving your spouse is automatically revoked. This includes any clauses that name your ex-spouse as a beneficiary to assets or your personal representative. For this reason, you should immediately review and update your estate plan following a divorce.
How Often Should You Update Your Will?
It’s best to update your will following a significant life event. This may include changes to your family such as the birth or adoption of a child or grandchild, a change in your marital status, a change in your state of residency, a change in your financial status, or in the event of a death of a loved one. Additionally, it’s wise to have your will updated if there has been a change in Hawaii law. However, our will lawyer in Honolulu does generally encourage our clients to go over their entire estate plans every few years, even when no significant life events occur.
At Abrell Law in Hawaii, we are prepared to help you make any necessary changes to your will when the need arises. Our goal is to help you prepare a document that meets all legal requirements and unambiguously communicates your final wishes.
Extensive Experience in LawPrior to opening up his own firm, Justin had years of legal experience working in the Prosecutor's office in Honolulu and as corporate counsel for a private business. This wide variety of settings help provide perspective on creative solutions to legal obstacles.
Culture of Compassion & TransparencyWe take your legal matter seriously. Until we resolve your case, you can expect us to listen to your needs and honestly provide solutions that are always in your best interests.
Direct Access to Your AttorneyYou won't be passed off to legal staff at any point when you work with Abrell Law. From the very beginning, you will speak with Justin so he can have a good understanding of your unique case.
Over Two Decades in HawaiiWith over 20 years living in Hawaii, serving the local community and fostering meaningful relationships is one of Justin's top priorities.
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