Probate and Trust Administration
The words PROBATE and TRUSTS often sends a shiver of fear down your spine. Do not fear. We will be with you every step of the process. The attorneys at Hastings, Laun & Houser LLLC represent individuals and corporations in all stages of probate and trust administration in Hawai’i. We have the expertise and personnel to handle any kind and size of proceeding involving a will or trust, including contested and uncontested matters.
Probate Practice Areas
- Probating wills and administering estates and trusts of people who have died, including preparation of federal estate tax returns where needed
- Representing personal representatives and trustees in matters such as accountings, prudent management practices, and distribution determinations
- Representing fiduciaries who want someone to help them understand their obligations and the probate or trust administration process
- Representing beneficiaries who want someone to help them understand the probate or trust administration process
- Representing beneficiaries who want to make sure the executor or trustee is fulfilling their fiduciary duties
- Formulating administration plans that help individual executors and trustees efficiently manage an estate or trust
We understand the stress and emotions that exist when someone you care about passes away. We routinely handle probate and trust matters throughout Hawai’i, including the Big Island, Maui and Oahu. Our goal is to make the estate or trust process as understandable, manageable and efficient as possible. Below, we provide more information about probate in Hawaii.
What triggers probate?
A probate administration is required only in situations where a decedent owned assets in his or her name alone at death. These assets were not jointly held with rights of survivorship in another, and they did not have designated beneficiaries (as would often be the case for life insurance and retirement accounts). A simplified procedure is available for decedents who did not own real property and who had less than $100,000 in personal property.
Probate is the process by which an individual obtains court authority to manage a decedent’s assets. The Personal Representative (or Executor) is responsible for protecting the assets, paying creditors and distributing the balance to the proper beneficiaries.
Probate has long had a bad reputation, primarily because it used to be very time-consuming and expensive. Probate administration is controlled by State law and the process (and expense involved) varies widely from state to state. Hawai`i adopted a new set of laws in 1998, which dramatically changed and simplified the probate procedure in Hawai`i.
Old Probate Laws
The old probate law required court hearings, public accountings and ongoing court supervision. It could take over a month for a Personal Representative to be appointed with the authority to handle the estate assets. In addition, the fees of the Personal Representative and the estate attorneys were based upon the gross value of the estate assets – not on the complexity, or relative simplicity, of the estate administration.
New Probate Laws
With the adoption of the new probate law in 1998, the process has become much simpler. A Personal Representative may be appointed more quickly after death and may administer the estate without court hearings or supervision unless requested by an interested person (Informal Probate). Also, now fees must be “reasonable”, not just a flat percentage of the estate value regardless of the extent of services actually required.