Creating an Estate Plan
An experienced estate planning lawyer is ready to meet with you
Many people find estate planning confusing. They know that having an estate plan is recommended, but they often don’t know how to create one or even where to start. That’s why you need an experienced estate planning lawyer. Hongo Law Office, LLLC guides clients through the estate planning process every step of the way.
Attorney Yuka Hongo works with people in Japan and Hawaii to create estate plans that protect their assets and meet the needs of their families. Many clients have found her knowledge of estate law, bilingual skills and understanding of cultural differences to be very helpful in preparing estate plans that are effective and appropriate.
Estate planning can be complicated but there are some basic steps that every plan follows.
Make an inventory of your assets
Your assets are everything you own. Examples of assets include homes and other real estate properties, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement or investment accounts, stocks and bonds. Ownership of a business is also an asset. Other examples of assets include any valuables you own, such as jewelry or antiques. The estimated value of each asset must also be determined – for example, a recent appraisal of a property that you own.
Beneficiaries are the people who will receive your assets after you are gone. You can decide how your assets will be divided and who will get them. Beneficiaries can be family members, such as your spouse, children, grandchildren or other relatives. Friends of the family may also be beneficiaries. Some people choose charitable organizations to receive some of their assets.
Choose an agent
An agent or “attorney-in-fact” is the person you give power of attorney to as part of an estate plan. This person will make financial or health decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and can’t make the decisions for yourself. Generally, you want to choose someone you trust to respect your wishes. This person should also be assertive and have an understanding of the responsibilities involved. Talk to the person about becoming your agent and be sure your wishes are clear.
Complete the necessary legal documentation
For example, a will can provide clear instructions for how you want your assets to be distributed, but a will also has to go through probate. A trust may be a better option and can help your family avoid unnecessary attorney fees and court costs in the future. A durable or health care power of attorney can legally give someone the power to make decisions for you in certain situations.
Review your plan regularly
As your life changes, you may also want to make changes to your estate plan. For example, you may welcome grandchildren into your family and want to take steps to provide for them. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your plan regularly. Every few years, or even annually, take some time to go over your estate plan to see it if still meet your needs.
Get started on your estate plan today. Contact us to schedule a consultation at our Honolulu office. Attorney Hongo also meets with clients during her annual visits to Japan.