In Sherry Turkle’s book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk In A Digital Age, she writes about the process of the virtuous circle of communication by discussing the poet, Henry David Thoreau’s moving to Waldon Pond to live more deliberately. Thoreau furnished his cabin with three chairs. One chair to represent solitude, where he could self-reflect on matters most important for him. Two chairs to engage in conversation where he could express his thoughts to another.
The first step in the estate planning process is learning. What do you need to learn? I suggest this as your starting point: You need to discover how to stay in control of your stuff while you are able to be in control, as well as how to be sure that that your wishes will be carried out when incapacity or the grim reaper catch up with you. Sorry to rub it in, but at least one of those things is going to happen to you. Odds are that both of them will.
Preplanning for your cemetery, funeral and cremation arrangements is a gift of love that provides a clear road map for families to follow at a time when they want to focus on celebrating your life. By making prearrangements, you offer peace of mind and clear direction to your loved ones and ease the burden of making decisions while they are grieving.
Estate planning attorneys help their clients make sound, intentional decisions relating to their estate plans when they manage to help clients minimize guilt, conflict and anxiety. At the same time, survivors should be allowed experience the natural process of grief.
The first steps in your estate planning journey are learning 1) how to stay in control of your stuff while you are able to be in control and 2) how to make sure your wishes are carried out when incapacity or the grim reaper catch up with you. Sorry to rub it in, but there is a 100% probability that at least one of these things is going to happen to you and a 70% probability that both of them will.
Many of us go through life believing everything will go according to plan. However, as the saying goes, even the best-laid plans go astray. So, to avoid unnecessary interruptions later in life that can be both financially and emotionally costly, it is wise to plan now for the possibility of incapacity.
Estate planning involves protecting what is important and then passing it on to our loved ones and future generations. Many concepts central to Hawaiian culture are applicable to estate planning. Starting with the concept of ‘ohana, all the way through lokahi, estate planning and the culture of our islands can interweave to form a rich tapestry of aloha.
Continuing from my last article, I believe that clients really want the estate planning attorney to help them meet their needs so that they can reduce their fear, anxiety and anticipatory grief in light of their knowledge of their inevitable death.
Parents often struggle with the concepts of equal, equitable, fairness and adequacy when it comes to the distribution of their assets among their children. Defining these terms will help us make the decision that most closely reflects our intention.
Remember the classic Abbott and Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” The longer they banter, the more their frustration grows due to their seeming lack of understanding of the game they are discussing — and hilarity ensues.
Similarly, the language of estate planning can give rise to problems for the uninitiated, but the problems that arise may not be funny at all.
After spending a lifetime of earning, saving and investing — and paying income and capital gains taxes all the way along — you may wonder why our government feels entitled to tax the value of what’s left when you die. However, the IRS and the State of Hawai‘i both want a piece of your estate.
According to the book, Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values, “60 percent of transition failures were caused by a breakdown of communication and trust within the family unit.” With the aging demographic of baby boomers, the high cost of living in Hawai‘i and the increase in multigenerational homes, the potential influx in trust litigation is foreseeable.
Trust beneficiaries are sometimes left to wonder why a decedent instructed that a trust distribution be made in a particular way. The trust clearly identified who the beneficiaries were, what they were to receive and how they were to receive. But unfortunately, the trust was silent as to the “why” of the distribution — the underlying reason and purpose for creating the trust in the first place.
As a member of ACTEC, I am privileged to learn from and exchange ideas with some of the most skilled and dedicated trust and estate lawyers in Hawai‘i. I often wonder why most of our discussions focus on probate and litigation issues rather than on how we can help plan to mitigate family conflict and avoid probate.
When I was in elementary school in the 1960s, my family’s set of encyclopedias claimed that I could expect to live to the ripe old age of 70. That seemed incredibly old to me. Fast-forward to 2020, and the current consensus is that I will live into my 80s, barring a catastrophic illness or an accident.
You may have heard the old joke, “where there’s a will … I want to be in it.” That may be true, but is estate planning really all about “who gets my stuff?” Who gets your stuff is important, but when you sift through the reasons for doing estate planning, you may find that identifying who gets your stuff takes a distant back seat to far more important considerations.
In medicine, there is cure and care; in finance, there is worth and value. In estate planning, there is wealth and meaning. Most people see the estate planner’s role as writing a document that transfers wealth at death. Just as significant is our role to communicate our client’s meaning clearly. This meaning is the foundation for estate planning.
Siblingship is the state of being related or interrelated, or a state of affairs existing between one of two or more individuals having one common parent. The term describes the unique, dynamic relationship existing between siblings. Siblings begin their relationship at a very young age. They experience joys and setbacks together — laugh and cry together. And through fighting, they can learn conflict resolution together. No other relationship is like siblingship.
Estate planning is the process of protecting that which is important and then passing those important things on to our loved ones and future generations. Many concepts that are central to Hawaiian culture are particularly applicable to estate planning. Starting with the concept of ‘ohana (a very inclusive notion of family), all the way through lokahi (a sense of unity — especially appropriate at the passing of a loved one), estate planning and the culture of our islands interweave to form a rich tapestry of aloha.
We have been receiving an increased number of phone calls from our clients’ children, notifying us about the imminent death of one of their parents. The children usually call in a panic, asking if anything needs to be done before their parent passes. We do our best to assist them; however, sometimes it is just too late.
How nice would it be if your child was born with an operating manual? There are many parenting books out there, but none that are specifically made for your child. The obvious reason for this is because the only person who can write an operating manual for a child, is the person who is raising the child.
Is estate planning really all about “who gets my stuff”? Your assets may be important, but when you sift through the reasons for doing estate planning, you may find that identifying who gets your stuff takes a distant back seat to far more important considerations.
Ideally, estate planning is “by invitation only.” Most people misunderstand this to mean that we, as the lawyers, are the ones doing the inviting. In actuality, it’s you, the clients, who are doing the inviting, by inviting us into your unique and textured lives.
There are three estate planning documents that every competent adult living in the State of Hawai‘i should have. Of course, “competency” can be an elusive quality, but once a Hawai‘i resident has turned 18, the law of our State presumes that person to be competent.
Class reunions are poignant reminders of change. With each passing year, our classmates grow a little grayer, perhaps a little balder, and maybe a little more expansive at the midsection. Good thing we are not like our classmates, right? Actually, we are. Father Time is catching up with all of us. That sobering fact should inspire us to reflect each year on our estate plans and whether they still do what we want them to do.