Asset Protection and Fraudulent Transfers

As you may be aware, the United States is one of the most litigious countries in the world. This means more people sue each other in court in the US than almost anywhere else. We have one lawyer for every 252 citizens in the US, as compared to only one lawyer for every 3,484 citizens in Japan. This is a big disparity. Because of this, more and more people are concerned about structuring their business and financial affairs to protect their assets from frivolous lawsuits.

Asset Protection is a necessary read more

2017 estate planning upadates

2017 ESTATE PLANNING UPDATE

Happy New Year!  Here is the 2017 update on important numbers used in Estate Planning and Medicaid Planning in Hawaii.

How much money and property can a person have at death without paying estate taxes? At the end of 2012, Congress passed a law making the exemption from estate taxes $5,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) without a built in expiration date. Taking into account inflation, the actual amount exempt from estate tax for 2017 is $5,490,000. The Hawaii Estate Tax law was previously read more

AN ESTATE PLAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

In last month’s article, I wrote about why everyone should have a Will. I didn’t want to bore you with a bunch of technical legal information, but I tried to impress upon you how important it is by sharing stories of how badly things can go wrong when you don’t have a plan in place. If you haven’t read it yet, take a look at last month’s Hawaii Herald Publication or go online to okuralaw.com/blog to read it.

This is the season of love, giving, and to be grateful, so without rehashing read more

WHY YOU NEED A WILL RIGHT NOW: PROBLEMS WITH INTESTATE DISTRIBUTION

How many of you don’t have a Last Will and Testament drawn up? How about your adult children or grandchildren?  There are many reasons why people don’t have a Will:  Don’t want to think about dying; Fear of cost; Not sure whom to name as beneficiaries or personal representative. The most common reason I hear is, “I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

Although it is decidedly unpleasant to think about our own death, a Will is one of the most important documents any person will ever read more

THE TOP 4 MEDICAID MYTHS

Have you heard information about Medicaid for nursing home costs from a friend, relative, or neighbor? If so, chances are you’ve also heard one of the Medicaid myths that aren’t true.  Here are 4 common misconceptions about qualifying for Medicaid to pay for your Long-term Nursing Home care costs.

 

Myth #1:  Medicare will pay for my long-term nursing home care

Many retirees believe that they are covered for long term care because they think the Medicare Health Insurance program will cover read more

LAND COURT VS. REGULAR SYSTEM

Today I’m going to talk about the two different systems for recording ownership of real property (land and buildings) in the State of Hawaii. The “Regular System” of recording land ownership comes from the traditional English Common Law and is a “race-notice” recording system which doesn’t determine ownership—it just identifies who recorded documents first. The Land Court System, established in 1903 in Hawaii, is a “Torrens Title” system of land registration where the State guarantees read more

DIGITAL ASSETS:  PASSING ON YOUR ELECTRONIC PHOTOS, FILES, ACCOUNTS, AND DATA

When a loved one passes away, probably the furthest thoughts from your mind at that time are:  How do I access and preserve their digital assets of value? And, what are their passwords?

First, let’s define “digital assets.”  A strict definition from Wikipedia is “anything that exists in a binary format and comes with the right to use. … Digital assets are classified as images, multimedia and textual content files.”  In plain English that means computer and other electronic files read more

WILL YOUR WILL WORK? THE PROBLEMS WITH ONLINE WILLS AND TRUSTS

I have had several potential clients and even friends ask me my opinion about online, do-it-yourself, estate planning documents.  In recent years several websites have popped up offering a glamorous opportunity to prepare your will, trust, and/or other estate planning documents, often for a lower-cost than what a competent attorney would charge.  The online legal document service can have a strong appeal for the uninitiated and those who don’t realize what they’re getting into.

Most people read more

THE ESTATE OF THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE

A few weeks ago, the news media were replete with articles about the highly successful, music genius, rock-legend Prince.  He has sadly joined the ranks of world-famous icons who have died leaving fans wanting more.  He has also apparently joined the group of such people who have died without a last will & testament.  There has been a lot of speculation about the cause of death, including suspected drug overdose, but I’ll leave that discussion to the medical examiners and toxicologists read more

JOINT TENANTS

We often see clients who have been advised by someone else that holding bank accounts or real property as “Joint Tenants” (also called “Joint Tenancy”) is a cheap way to avoid probate costs.  It’s true that if one of the joint tenants passes away, the other joint tenant(s) will own the account or the property without having to go through probate court proceedings. However, joint tenancy can expose you to a lot of risks that you might not be aware of.

A woman I know of added her son on read more