Do I Need To Go Through Probate?

An experienced attorney who can help you understand the process

Following the death of a loved one, family members are faced with the question of what to do with their property. For many families, that involves going through the legal process of probate. Many people aren’t sure what it involves or even if it is necessary. Hongo Law Office, LLLC helps guide families through the process.

Probate attorney Yuka Hongo has the experience and legal knowledge to help clients understand the confusing probate process. She has lived and worked in Japan and the United States and has extensive experience handling legal transactions in both Japanese and English. She helps clients overcome the language and cultural barriers they face when dealing with probate.

Do you have to go through probate? You may have to if your loved one did not have an estate plan designed to help avoid it. Probate is required in Hawaii if your loved one was the sole owner of any real estate, such as a house, building or any  land. It is also required if the total value of all personal property in your loved one’s estate totals $100,000 or more.

Individual Assets

This includes all property that is solely owned by a person. It can include real estate and business interests. Other examples include stocks, bonds, CDs, bank accounts and investment accounts. It can include cars, trucks or boats. It also includes property such as jewelry, artwork, electronics and collectibles.

Tenants-in-Common Property

This includes property that was owned with other people. It is different from other property helped by joint tenants with rights of survivorship. It typically only applies to property owned with people who were not related. This property is usually real estate, but can also include bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks and bonds.

Beneficiary Assets

These can include health savings or medical savings accounts, life insurance policies, annuities and retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s with beneficiaries or payable-on-death designations. If the beneficiary died first – or if no beneficiary was named – these assets are included as part of the estate.

Assets Left Out Of A Trust

Some people put some of their assets into living trusts as part of an estate plan. These trusts can help family members avoid probate after a loved one’s death. Any additional assets acquired during someone’s life that were not moved into a trust become subject to probate, however.

Probate is a complicated process involving several steps. A personal representative is appointed to oversee the probate. Assets are inventoried and property appraised. Creditors are notified and are able to make claims against the estate. Income and estate taxes must be paid. Then remaining assets can be distributed among beneficiaries.

Learn more about the probate process in Hawaii and whether your loved one’s estate will need to go through it. Contact us to schedule a consultation at our Hawaii office. Attorney Yuka Hongo can also meet with clients in Japan, which she typically visit twice a year. She can review your situation, discuss your options and answer any questions you have.