Hawaii estate planning attorneys often hear, “I don’t have children, so I don’t need to do any estate planning.” It’s surprising that many people are unaware of the pitfalls of not having an estate plan, even if they don’t have a child or spouse. You need an estate plan in Hawaii, regardless of your family situation, and here’s why.
Hawaii’s Intestate Laws
Everyone has an estate; it’s not a term reserved for the wealthy. Your estate comprises everything you own, and that means your assets as well as your debts.
If you die intestate, which means without a will, the state decides who inherits your estate. In Hawaii, the estate passes to the closest surviving relative. That could be your spouse, your parents, or your siblings. If you do not have a spouse or children at the time of your death, and your parents are still living, your parents inherit your estate. But remember that your estate is your assets and your debts. Do you want to saddle your elderly parents with a mortgage?
A Hawaii estate planning attorney will guide you through tough decisions and remind you that inheritance isn’t always a good thing. Your parents or siblings do not want to inherit your debts or even a fully paid-off house that they must maintain or sell.
Understand Your Assets
Now you may be thinking, “But my ‘estate’ is very modest. It’s just a paid-off home and a little cash in the bank. I don’t need a will.” Assets are not only tangible items. Have you written a song or a book to which you own the rights? If so, do you really want the state to decide who receives your royalties? You’d probably prefer the person that inspired the song or edited the book to receive the royalties.
Take Care of Your Pets
Pets are part of your family; you can delineate a set amount of your estate (cash or assets that can be sold) for the care of your pet. A Hawaii estate planning attorney will help you make a plan for your pet, such as who will care for it, a monthly allowance or lump sum for the pet’s care, and so on. Failing to plan for pet care can mean your beloved companion winds up in a shelter or adopted by someone you don’t know.
Hawaii estate planning attorneys also see many instances in which a client chooses a friend or a charity to inherit his or her assets after making a plan to clear up debts (usually through life insurance). That is a perfectly acceptable way to add value to someone’s life or to support a cause you care about.
Everyone Needs an Estate Plan
You don’t need to have children to make an estate plan. Debts, relationships, royalties, pets, and more must all be considered—failure to plan means that the state steps in and makes the plan for you. Protect the things you value now and after you pass on. Let a Hawaii estate planning attorney help you create a plan today.