Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Writing a Holographic Will in Hawaii

A holographic will is a handwritten document that functions as a valid will and directs where your assets will go when you die. 

A holographic will is valid and legal in Hawaii.  Hawaii Revised Statute 560: 2-502 provides that a will may be valid even it is not witnessed and even if it is not completely in your handwriting.  The holographic will simply needs to have your original signature and the material portions of the document in your handwriting. 

For more information, click on this link to the statute that addresses holographic wills.
HRS 560: 2-502

Even though writing a holographic will is legal does not mean that it is advisable.  There are several reasons why you should not risk distributing your assets with holographic will. 

1.  Your signature may have to proven by extrinsic evidence.  
The probate court is not familiar with your signature or handwriting.  The person who distributes your assets will likely have to go to considerable trouble and expense to prove that your holographic will is actually yours.  Your personal representative may have to compare other documents with your signature or possibly hire a handwriting expert to prove that your signature is valid.  

2.  Nobody will know what you really meant. 
There can be many interpretations of a document and it is easy to challenge a holographic will in court.  Perhaps your handwriting is not clear or you forgot to include an asset in your will.  The probate court will not know if you intended to write your will that way or if you merely made a mistake. 

Even if you believe you are explicit in your will by saying "I leave everything to Dad," the court will not know if you meant your biological father or your distant second cousin who you met once and jokingly referred to as "Dad." 

3.  Your assets will have to go through the probate process.
A will gives instructions as to where your assets should go.  The probate process is the actual distribution of your property.  If you write a holographic will, your assets will likely be probated.  The probate process can be time-consuming and is open to the public.  Anyone who would like to see what assets you had and where they are going is able to do so.  Proper estate planning can circumvent the probate process with a trust. 

4.  Omissions. 
A holographic will may not include all of your assets.  If you do not specifically address the new truck you bought after you wrote your will, the court may not know where it should go.  With property legal advice, you may also forget to appoint a guardian for children, name an executor, provide for pets or name alternative beneficiaries.  A holographic will also typically fails to address end-of-life health care choices and financial decisions. 

A holographic will is not a wise choice for distributing your assets.  There are numerous potential pitfalls when writing a holographic will.  Obtaining competent estate planning advice with an estate planning attorney can save your heirs time and money.  Plan today. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Maui Technology Venture Capital Fund

Economic growth on Maui continues to improve in early 2014.  New construction starts have increased, tourism numbers are healthy and real estate sales are so strong that many willing buyers are being priced out of the market.

The business community here has always been strong and Maui is often cited for its innovative approach to new opportunities.  Technology is no exception and a small but persistent technology community has been active the last few years on our island.

Recently two entrepreneurs helped make Maui even more tech friendly.  Arben Kryeziu and Nick Bicanic have opened a venture capital firm in Kahului to provide funding, business advice and development assistance to technology start ups.

Go to their website for more information.  mbloom Ventures LLC

Also, here is an article in the Pacific Business News that explains more.  mbloom article

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will

A comprehensive estate plan contains several documents.  Each document accomplishes a different goal and every one works with the others to form a cohesive layer of protection for your assets and your intended beneficiaries.  An well-built estate plan applies your assets to their highest and most efficient use. 

In addition to a Trust and a Pourover Will, an Advance Health Care Directive is one of the key documents in your estate plan.

An Advance Health Care Directive appoints a person to make your health care decisions when you are unable to do so.  The person you appoint must be able to accomplish your medical goals pertaining to life support, organ donation and other personal preferences.  Additionally, your appointee must be able to manage your medical affairs to preserve your assets.  If not managed properly, medical bills can rapidly deplete your bank accounts, real estate and personal property.  Your appointee should have the fortitude to make speak with medical professionals, make difficult medical decisions and balance your personal preferences. 

A Living Will is an earlier and more specific version of an Advance Health Care Directive.  The Directive is the preferred and most modern estate plan tool used by most skilled legal practitioners. 

An estate plan must be dynamic and change with your lifestyle and preferences.  Review your plan today, including who will make your medical decisions and evaluate if it reflects your current goals. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy New Year!

The beginning of the new year is an excellent time to review your estate plan and make sure it is current.  Look at your documents and review your will, trust and Advance Health Care Directive carefully.  Ask yourself if the documents accurately reflect your preferred goals for your children and assets? 

If you currently have a trust, be sure that you have properly transferred all the appropriate assets to the trust to take make full use of the tax and probate advantages.  If you do not currently have an Advance Health Care Directive, consider who you would like to make your important health care decisions if you are unable to do so. 

Occasional maintenance on your estate plan can save you and your family time and money.