The Role of the Successor Trustee: What Am I Supposed to Do Now?

The Role of the Successor Trustee: What Am I Supposed to Do Now?

By

Ethan R. Okura

We have often seen this scenario:  A parent, sibling, or dear friend has finally gotten around to doing their initial estate planning. You are so happy for them. And then you find out you’ve been named as their “successor trustee.” What does that even mean? What are your responsibilities? How will you know what to do when the time comes? When exactly does that time come? What exactly is a trust in the read more

Aretha Franklin: Following in Prince’s Footsteps to Pay Millions in Death Taxes

Aretha Franklin: Following in Prince’s Footsteps to Pay Millions in Death Taxes

By

Ethan R. Okura

A little over two years ago I wrote about Prince, the music recording legend, and how he passed away without a will. I detailed some of the problems that his estate would face—and is still facing to this day—on account of not adequately preparing. As of April, 2018, Prince’s six heirs had not received one red cent, while the bank acting as executor of the estate and its team of lawyers read more

“UNDUE INFLUENCE” AND OTHER WILL PROBLEMS

“UNDUE INFLUENCE” AND OTHER WILL PROBLEMS

By:

Ethan R. Okura

In previous columns, I have addressed the subject of financial abuse of the elderly. This usually involves outright stealing or fraud. However, there is another form of financial abuse that is subtler, harder to identify and often doesn’t show up until after the beloved family member has passed on. This type of problem is called “undue influence.”

What is “Undue Influence?”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “undue read more

An Ethical Will: The Importance of Passing Down Your Values, Not Just Your Assets

An Ethical Will: The Importance of Passing Down Your Values, Not Just Your Assets

By

Ethan R. Okura

Have you heard the proverb “Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Three Generations?” Or perhaps you’ve heard the saying as “Rags to Riches to Rags in Three Generations.” The ancient Chinese version of this Proverb is 富不过三代 (Fu bu guo san dai), which roughly translates to “Wealth does not sustain beyond three generations.” Various cultures throughout history have seen read more

WHAT OUT OF STATE CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW TO HELP THEIR AGING PARENTS IN HAWAII

WHAT OUT OF STATE CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW TO HELP THEIR AGING PARENTS IN HAWAII

By

Ethan R. Okura

We often have clients who raised their families here in Hawaii, and then sent their children off to the mainland or elsewhere in the world to pursue their educations, careers, military service, or raising families of their own.  Although the children try to get back to visit Hawai`i nei once every year or two, life gets busy, and that doesn’t always happen. Even for those who do manage to come read more

DANGERS OF JOINT TENANCY

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Many Husbands and Wives own title to their home as “Tenants by the Entirety” or as “Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship.”  Often they’ve been told that it’s a cheap and easy way to avoid probate and are shocked to discover that it doesn’t.  The catch here is that rights of survivorship—whether through Tenants by the Entirety or by Joint Tenancy—only delay probate until the death of the survivor.  When the first spouse passes away, read more

Who Decides What Happens To My Remains Anyway? (March 2014)

“Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.”
-William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Death.  This is a difficult topic to think about.  Most of us spend most of our lives enjoying work, hobbies, friends and family.  We engage in diversions to avoid thinking about this inevitability.  And yet, this is a bridge that we all must cross someday.  Some of us are meticulous planners and dictate exactly what should happen upon our passing, such as read more

Giving Away Your Home? –Beware Part II: (January 2014)

Last month I wrote about the pitfalls of giving your home away without protecting yourself. We came to the conclusion that if you think you have 5 years of good health when you can still live at home before you might need nursing home care, it can be a good idea to transfer your home to your children or other loved ones while keeping a life estate for yourself (and for your spouse) so that you can’t be kicked out of your home.

I left you with a teaser saying that I’d reveal to you why giving read more

Giving Away Your Home? –Beware Part I (December 2013)

We all know that the possibility of incurring disastrous Nursing Home costs is the biggest threat to most people’s estates today.  Now that we have an exemption of $5.25 million from estate taxes, only the wealthiest 0.14% of Americans will pay this tax. In other words, 99.86% of us don’t have to worry about the estate tax anymore. What about probate?  You may have heard horror stories from the 1980s about probate costs eating up half of the estate.  read more