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Frequently Asked Questions

1. IS PROBATE NEEDED TO SETTLE THE
   DECEDENT’S ESTATE?

2. WHAT IS THE PROBATE PROCESS LIKE
    HERE IN HAWAII?

3. WHAT IF THE DECEDENT IS A RESIDENT
    OF ANOTHER STATE?

4. WHAT IS PROBATE?

5. DO ALL ESTATES NEED TO BE SETTLED?

6. WHEN MUST THE ESTATE BE SETTLED?

7. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE TO SETTLE THE
    DECEDENT’S ESTATE?

8. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PROBATE
    AN ESTATE?


1. IS PROBATE NEEDED TO SETTLE THE DECEDENT’S ESTATE?
If a person passed away and executed a Will and owns property here in Hawaii (personal property and real property) titled solely in his or her individual name, probate may be required in order to transfer ownership of such assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Likewise, if the decedent did not have a Will and owned property here in Hawaii as mentioned above, a probate may be required in order to transfer ownership of such assets to the decedent’s heirs.

If the decedent did not own any real property here in Hawaii and only personal property titled solely in the decedent’s name (bank accounts, brokerage account, etc.) without a beneficiary designation and the value of such assets exceeds $100,000.00, probate of the decedent’s Will will be required. If the total value of such assets does not exceed $100,000.00 in value, probate may not be required and the transfer of such assets can be handled by an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property which my office can assist you with. 
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2. WHAT IS THE PROBATE PROCESS LIKE HERE IN HAWAII?
Hawaii has different types of probate procedures involved to open probate proceedings for a decedent’s Estate as follows:

A. Informal Probate Proceedings – Documents must be filed with the Registrar of the Probate Court and a Personal Representative of the Estate is appointed. No court hearings are required and the Estate can be opened and closed in as little as 6 months.

B. Formal/Supervised Probate Proceedings – Documents are submitted to Court and the Probate Court/Judge will oversee the probate proceedings for the decedent’s Estate. Probate Court hearings are scheduled and the Personal Representative is appointed by the Probate Court/Judge.
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3. WHAT IF THE DECEDENT IS A RESIDENT OF ANOTHER STATE?
If the decedent was a resident of another state and probate proceedings have been initiated in that domiciliary state, yet, the decedent owned property here in Hawaii (especially, real property titled in the decedent’s sole name), Ancillary Probate Proceedings can be commenced with the Probate Court here in Hawaii. This probate process is a simplified process which allows for the domiciliary Personal Representative of the decedent’s Estate to be appointed by the Probate Court to serve as Personal Representative here in Hawaii and to conduct estate business in the State of Hawaii.
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4. WHAT IS PROBATE?
Probate is the formal process of transferring ownership and title of the decedent’s estate to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate.
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5. DO ALL ESTATES NEED TO BE SETTLED?
Yes, to varying degrees based on the size and complexity of the estate.
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6. WHEN MUST THE ESTATE BE SETTLED?
Under federal tax law, if death/estate taxes are due based on the value of the decedent’s estate, an estate tax return is due nine (9) months from the time the decedent passed away (IRS Form 706). If there are no estate taxes due, generally there is no requirement to settle the estate within a certain time frame, however, by not settling the estate within a reasonable time, there tends to be “no closure” for all those involved.
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7. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE TO SETTLE THE DECEDENT’S ESTATE?
A person who is entitled to receive an inheritance is responsible to settle the estate. If there is no Will, the Hawaii Intestacy Laws specify who is entitled to serve as the Personal Representative of a decedent’s estate to settle the estate.
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8. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PROBATE AN ESTATE?
The legal fees involved to probate an estate are usually based on the amount of time involved for the Attorney to assist the Personal Representative to settle the probate estate. Most Attorney’s fees are based on an hourly rate.
Please contact my office and I can discuss with you in more detail what will need to be done and the estimated fees that will be involved.
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©2012 Kristie A. Lee, Attorney at Law, LLLC | 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1252 | Honolulu, HI 96814 | Telephone: (808) 738-9526