Probate is a court proceeding designed to transfer assets from a deceased person to that person’s survivors and beneficiaries.
The deceased person’s personal representative (executor) is responsible to:
- Locate and file the decedent’s will (if he or she had one) with the local court
- File necessary probate documents with the court
- Locate, inventory, secure, close, and transfer personal assets and accounts
- Have the value of all assets determined
- Ascertain and then notify all known estate creditors
- Make payments to creditors, discharge the decedent’s obligations, and obtain creditor releases
- Process life insurance death benefits
- Secure the decedent’s residence and tangible personal property
- File tax returns (federal and state) and make appropriate tax elections
- Pay estate taxes and final personal income taxes
- Obtain tax releases and closing letters from the IRS, local courts, and state taxing authorities
- Make specific bequests, together with partial and final distributions, to beneficiaries
- Provide a detailed accounting to beneficiaries and the local court
Accomplishing all of this is time-consuming and frustrating. When you factor in the grief that comes with losing a loved one, the situation often seems overwhelming.
You are not alone during this difficult time. We can handle the process for you and settle the estate quickly and economically. This will allow you to focus on what is most important—coming to terms with your loss and attending to the needs of your loved ones. We invite you to contact us to schedule a personal meeting with one of our Honolulu probate attorneys.
Many people are under the impression that once they have created a trust, it will go into effect “automatically” when it is needed. This is not the case. For a trust to accomplish its goals, it must be properly funded and administered.
Like probate, trust administration involves a number of duties and responsibilities. Tax filings must be made with the State of Hawaii and the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the law requires that trust beneficiaries and others receive notification of the decedent’s passing. Additional duties can include settling creditor claims, opening bank accounts, obtaining one or more new tax ID numbers, arranging for the appraisal and sale of assets, paying the decedent’s final expenses, and more. Throughout the entire process, proper accounting practices must be maintained.
Failure to administer a trust properly can have serious legal and financial consequences for the trustee. If you have been asked to serve as trustee, do not take the decision lightly. We can explain the steps involved and the potential risks. If you do decide to serve as trustee, we can guide you through every stage of the process. We can also help you choose the ideal trustee if you would rather not take on the responsibility yourself. In addition, we can work with your trusted advisors and representatives to make sure the trust’s directives are properly carried out.
Contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule a personal meeting with one of our Honolulu trust administration attorneys. You are not alone during this difficult time.