Here at Timothy Mahi‘ai White Attorney at Law, L.L.L.C. we help everyday people prepare for the unexpected and the inevitable using legal documents such as Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives as part of an Integrated Estate Plan. Everyone, regardless of the size of estate, should have an estate plan. Contrary to common belief, tax planning and wealth succession are not the only reasons to have an estate plan. Estate plans serve many purposes such as providing appointments of guardians for minor children, the manner in which you want your remains handled, and planning for incapacity.
A Will is an estate planning tool that contains instructions on how you wish your estate and other affairs to be handled when you pass away. These instructions may include the appointment of particular people for specific purposes and a specific plan for the distribution of your assets.
A Revocable Living Trust (RLT) is a document that combines the attributes of a Durable Power of Attorney and a Will in that it allows for incapacity planning and succession planning. A Trust in general is an agreement between the creator (Settlor) of the Trust and the Trustee to hold certain property for the benefit of a Beneficiary. In the case of a RLT, the Settlor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are the same person. Conceptually, it is holding your assets for yourself as a beneficiary in your name as Trustee. So why would you need a RLT if you already hold your assets for yourself? You may need a RLT to plan for the unexpected and the inevitable.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that is used in Estate Planning to protect against incapacity. More specifically, the inability to make financial decisions. In this particular document you, as the Principal, name an Agent, also referred to as an Attorney-in-Fact. In the event that you lose the ability to make financial decisions due to an accident or illness, your Agent may access your finances to pay bills and make financial decisions on your behalf.
An Advance Health Care Directive gives someone else the power to make medical and other health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you lose the ability to make those decisions. This document is also referred to as a Living Will or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. In fact, this document contains the same information as the two aforementioned documents just compiled into a single form. The two components to this document are the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and Instructions for Health Care.
Probate is the court process that generally occurs when a person passes away. During this process the assets in the decedent's estate satisfy any debts and any remaining assets are distributed to the surviving heirs or beneficiaries. We currently assist clients with uncontested (non-litigious) informal probate and non-probate transfers on a limited basis. Trust law has to do with the duties and obligations that trustees must follow during trust administration. Trustees are held to fiduciary standards that require them to take certain actions and avoid taking others. We are here to assist in making decisions in accordance with the applicable law and trust instructions.