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The Stepped Up Basis (October 2009)

In estate planning, it is important to understand “stepped up basis.”  When you buy property (for example, real estate or stocks) your “tax basis” in the property is the amount you pay for the property.  When you sell the property, you have profit or “gain” equal to the difference between the sale price and tax basis.  You have to pay “capital gains taxes” on your gain.

For example, suppose you bought a vacant lot many years ago for $10,000.  Now, that same land is worth $110,000.  read more

Small Estates

            When a person dies with $100,000 or less in assets, there are simple ways to settle the estate. One way is to use an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property. Another way is to have the clerk of the circuit court open a Small Estate proceeding. 

            Before we discuss these procedures, let’s review the definition of an “estate.”  When a person dies, that person is called a “decedent.”  If the person has a revocable living read more

Notice of Public Hearing and DHS Proposed Rule Change

The following is a copy of the Notice of Public Hearing on the proposed changes to Hawaii’s Medicaid rules found in Hawaii Administrative Rules.  The public hearing is scheduled for July 28, 2009.  Many of the proposed changes are required by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which was signed into law by President Bush on February read more

Be Careful When You Give Assets Away

Whenever you give away assets, there are laws in three different areas to consider:

1) gift taxes; 2) Medicaid rules for nursing home costs; and 3) capital gains taxes.

Many people think you can give only $10,000 tax-free to each individual.  Actually, the amount is now $13,000 a year.  This is called the “annual exclusion” from the gift tax.  This year you can give $13,000 to any number of persons without even reporting it to the IRS.

What most people don’t realize is that, read more

Asset Protection in Uncertain Times Part Two: Beyond FDIC Insurance

The economic news continues to get worse and worse.  First, here is a brief summary of some of the advice I offered in last month’s Estate Planning Insights.  Make sure that your savings accounts, checking accounts and certificates of deposit are in FDIC insured banks or NCUA insured credit unions.  Keep the amount of money at each bank or credit union within the insured limits of $250,000 up through December 31, 2009 and $100,000 thereafter.  Money market funds are not insured by FDIC read more

Asset Protection in Uncertain Times: FDIC Insurance

Nearly every day now, newspapers and televisions are blasting us with information about how bad the economy is. We are in the worst economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930’s. In the midst of this financial crisis, what can you do to protect your own assets?

To start with, make sure your savings are secure. Banks have been failing and others will fail. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (called “FDIC”) was created in 1933 after thousands of banks failed in read more

Our Clients

Our Clients

Here is what our clients say about us:

Probate Department

They are friendly, responsive, confident, and knowledgeable. Very personally attentive and the fee is reasonable.

— M. Evans, Mount Dora, FL

I feel like I know my attorney and that she cares about me.

— Pamela Bernard, Madera, CA

I felt as though a trusted family member was helping me all the way to the completion of the Trust settlement.

— Kiyoko Kuwada, Mililani

The whole experience was overwhelming but with all the friendly and professional help, I got through it to everyone’s satisfaction.

— E. Sakamoto, Hilo

The best part about working with your staff is read more

2009 Hawaii Elder Law And Estate Planning Update

How much in assets can a husband and wife have and still qualify for Medicaid to pay nursing home costs for one of them? Effective January 1, 2009, a husband and wife together can have $111,560 in assets and still have Medicaid pay for the nursing home costs for one of them. (The amount in 2008 is $106,400.) This $111,560 is in addition to the following exempt assets, which the government will not count: necessities such as clothing, furniture and appliances; read more