Probate FAQ

An experienced attorney answers your questions

Probate can be a very confusing and frustrating process. The laws are complicated and there are many problems that you may face that can results in delays and added expenses. That’s why it’s important to talk to an experienced probate attorney. Hongo Law Office, LLLC can answer any questions you have about probate.

Attorney Yuka Hongo helps clients in Japan and Hawaii navigate the probate process after a loved one has died. Her experience, legal knowledge, bilingual skills and unique background have helped many family members overcome the language and cultural barriers they face when dealing with probate in Hawaii.

Some of the most questions clients have about probate include:

Contact us to schedule a consultation with attorney Hongo if you would like to discuss your situation and how we can help. Our office is located in Honolulu. Attorney Hongo also meets with clients in Japan during her annual visits there. She can also arrange for consultation over the phone or by video conference.

What if my loved one did not own real estate?

If a person who did not own real estate in Hawaii dies, and the total value of personal property is less than $100,000, you may be able to avoid probate. The process involves submitting an affidavit for collection of personal property, signed before a notary public. The assets usually can be collected fairly quickly.

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How long does probate take?

There are many factors that can affect how long it will take to probate an estate. A small estate probate may be completed within a few months, but it can take up to a year for a larger estate. Complications, such as problems in locating beneficiaries, difficulty selling real estate or a dispute over a creditor claim, can lead to further delays.

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How much does probate cost?

It depends on many factors. Expenses can include court costs, appraisal costs, surety bonds, accounting fees, outstanding bills and taxes. Other factors that can affect the total cost include the size of the estate and the type of probate used. An experienced attorney can go over expected costs in your situation.

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Do I need a lawyer for probate?

While it is not required to have a lawyer as you move through the probate process, it is in your best interests. There can be many complicated issues to work through, including inventorying assets, appraising property, giving notice to creditors, paying outstanding debts and distributing remaining assets. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process, address any problems that come up and take steps to protect the estate.

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Why are wills contested?

Challenges to wills are not common, but they can happen during the probate process. A family member may claim the will does not meet legal requirements, that a loved one lacked the mental capacity to make out a will or that there was fraud or improper influence. Contested wills can cause delays, increased expenses and family arguments. A lawyer can help defend the will against legal challenges.

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What does the personal representative do during probate?

The personal representative oversees the probate of the estate. These responsibilities include inventorying assets, receiving any payments due, identifying and paying creditors, paying taxes and expenses and distributing remaining assets among beneficiaries. An experienced attorney can help a personal representative navigate this complicated process.

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Can more than one person be a personal representative?

It is possible for two or more family members to be named personal representatives to oversee the probate of a loved one’s estate. It is generally not a good idea because there may be some difficult decisions to make during the process. If all personal representatives don’t agree on how to proceed, the result can be arguments, delays and hurt feelings.

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What are common problems in probate?

There are many problems that can come up during the probate process. If a loved one did not have an estate plan, it may be difficult to track down information for bank accounts and other assets. Sometimes, a creditor may make a claim against an estate that is not legitimate. Family members may argue over the distribution of assets or even contest a will. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced lawyer who can help you work through these problems.

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