REVOCABLE OR IRREVOCABLE: THAT IS THE QUESTION!

When a client comes in to our law firm for the first time, they usually ask us to explain the basic concepts of estate planning and to make recommendations on how they should proceed.  Our attorneys will share with the client how doing a plan with us can help to protect them and their family from losing their assets to:  Probate; Conservatorship; Estate Taxes; Lawsuits; Divorces; and Nursing Home Costs.

We often discuss the pros and cons of a Revocable Trust versus an Irrevocable Trust.  Interestingly, read more

THE BIGGEST ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKE: DON’T FORGET TO FUND YOUR TRUST

One of the most common mistakes in Estate Planning is:  A person will go to a lawyer (or some non-lawyer salesperson will come to their door) and they are talked into “purchasing a Trust” to help protect the person’s assets and to avoid probate and conservatorship, which both require that the court gets involved in managing your finances when you pass away or become incapacitated.  So the client pays for a trust and receives a whole bunch of trust documents in a binder, and not understanding read more

2016 ESTATE PLANNING UPDATE

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! (That’s Happy New Year in Hawaiian for those of you reading on the mainland).  Here is a 2016 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 read more

DON’T “SPEND DOWN” FOR MEDICAID!

When people come to us for advice on how to qualify for Medicaid to pay for their nursing home cost, we hear this phrase “Spend Down” all the time.  Many people who have researched Medicaid benefits for long term care have heard that they should “Spend Down” their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.  In this article I will explain why this could be the worst advice a client could follow—and yet most financial planners, social workers, Medicaid Consultants, and even lawyers still read more

WHY YOU NEED AN ESTATE PLAN (OR ONGOING UPDATES IF YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE)

I can already hear you thinking, “Of course I’m going to hear a lecture on why I need an estate plan, coming from an estate planning lawyer!”  Well, I decided to check with Google to see what it thought about the topic.  I ran the search “Why do I need an estate plan”, and among the top 10 pages were articles from Forbes, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Vanguard, and Market Watch—all financial advisory/investment firms. They aren’t even in the business of estate planning, so why would read more

WHAT IS A GENERATION SKIPPING TRUST?

A SHORT EXPLANATION OF THE TRANSFER TAX SYSTEM

Have you heard of a Generation Skipping Trust before?  Have you been told that it’s a trust that will cut out your children from your inheritance and leave everything to your grandchildren?  That’s what the name sounds like, but this isn’t exactly true.  It’s a common misunderstanding.  So what is a Generation Skipping Trust?

A Generation Skipping Trust is a trust that we sometimes refer to as a Dynasty Trust or a Legacy Trust because it is designed to leave a legacy that will protect read more

WHICH BUSINESS ENTITY IS RIGHT FOR ME?

WHICH BUSINESS ENTITY IS RIGHT FOR ME?

Last month I wrote about why every American should start a small business—even if it’s just setting up a lemonade stand or buying a condo to rent to tenants. I explained how there are significant tax benefits to business owners that aren’t available to someone who is only an employee with a W-2 paycheck. Now that you’ve decided to start a business, what is the right type of business entity for you?

Let’s start with a list the different types of ways read more

why you should start a business

WHY YOU SHOULD START A BUSINESS (August 2015)

WHY YOU SHOULD START A BUSINESS

When you are starting a new business there are so many things to think about and so much varied advice that comes from different sources. Some people think the first thing you have to do is register a business entity like a corporation or an LLC with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Others believe the first thing to do is make a logo, business cards, and a website.  Still others say you must start with a business plan.  All of these steps read more

Identity Theft - How to protect yourself

IDENTITY THEFT: HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF (July 2015)

IDENTITY THEFT: HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America in the past two decades. In fact, last year it was the number one complaint category according to the FTC, with 12.7 million victims of identity fraud in 2014.  The scary thing is that in 66% of the cases, the bank or other financial institution did not notify the victim, the victim noticed it and notified the bank! So we must be vigilant in monitoring our statements.

I know from personal experience read more

DOES A LIFE ESTATE STILL WORK FOR MEDICAID? (June 2015)

DOES A LIFE ESTATE STILL WORK FOR MEDICAID?

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Back in March, April, and May of 2010, my father wrote a three-part series for the Hawaii Herald called “Protect Your Home From Medicaid Liens.”  It explained that the best way to protect your home is to keep a life estate and give the remainder (or future ownership) away to an irrevocable trust, drafted by a lawyer who specializes in read more