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Lock Down your Legacy and Keep your Kids out of Probate Court

When someone dear to you passes away, many things get left in limbo. When he or she is no longer with you, the assets that loved one possessed and future ownership over them are now under scrutiny. For cases like these, a probate court steps in to appoint an executor for the estate in order to transfer property ownership. The last thing your children need at this time is to spend money on legal fees to handle what can be a tricky and sensitive matter for all involved. Avoiding probate in Honolulu, at all costs, can prevent such awkward dealings for generations to come.

Why Should You Be Avoiding Probate?

The probate process can be time-consuming and lead to spent money and emotions. When you pass, your children will have to go through this process if your property is not in a trust or you have not made a declaration of joint ownership. Not even having a will can help with probate avoidance, with proceedings potentially taking months or years to complete.  

Because probate deliberations take a while, they can leave your heirs with immediate debt in terms of covering the funeral, household utilities, and insurance or taxes. Also, probate is a state court proceeding, so the deceased person’s assets, beneficiaries, and other information will become public record, making it accessible to just about anyone, possibly even exploitative relatives.

How Can You Avoid It?

Probate avoidance in Honolulu can be achieved as long as you’re prepared. There are some ways that you can set your children up to avoid probate.

One way, as mentioned above, is a living trust. In Hawaii, you can create this trust to avoid probate for real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and much more. Similar to a will, a trust document allows you to name someone to take over as your property’s trustee after your death. You must then transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the trust’s trustee. The trust’s terms will then dictate how the property will be controlled. Your successor trustee will then be able to transfer the property to trust beneficiaries upon your death.

Another way to ensure you’re avoiding probate is joint ownership, which is a document stating the right of survivorship. That right means the surviving owner automatically owns the property once the original owner passes away. Parents should ensure that any documents of joint ownership with children explicitly state that their intention is for ownership of land, properties, bank accounts, possessions, and other assets to be transferred entirely to their children.

There are also beneficiary deeds you can explore such as transfer-on-death deeds. This deed allows you to sign and record the deed now, but the deed’s terms don’t take effect until you die. You can revoke the transfer-on-death deed any time, while you’re living, and the beneficiary cannot assume any responsibilities before you pass on.

Make official, binding end-of-life preparations so that your children aren’t dealing with courts while trying to grieve their loss. Schedule a free consult with Michael Madison, Honolulu Estate Planning Attorney to discuss your options.

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