LAW OFFICES
STEPHEN B. YIM

2017 Newsletter

Dear Valued Client,

As a reflection of our continued dedication to you, we send you this revised newsletter in order to clarify parts of our initial 2017 newsletter.  We value accuracy and understand the value in being meticulous in our efforts on your behalf. Please replace the previous newsletter with this revised newsletter.  We sincerely appreciate your patience with our office and look forward to continuing our growth together in this estate planning journey.

Continuity of Our Practice: the Succession Plan

We take our professional responsibility to each and every one of our clients seriously. Part of that professional responsibility is to be here for you and to meet your long-term needs. Losing a doctor, dentist, or accountant due to retirement or death is difficult. It is often just as difficult for clients to find out their lawyer is no longer practicing law at a time of need. From something as simple as needing a copy of your estate plan when you cannot locate your documents, to discussing changes in your life that may affect your estate plan, it can be very distressing to learn that you now have to look for a new lawyer that you can entrust with your personal matters.

That is why I am happy to announce that Monica Yempuku, who has been with our firm for over eleven years, and is now in her third year of law school, will be joining us as an attorney upon graduation, and she will be serving as our next generation to serve your next generation.

Summer Special on Powers of Attorney for Your Children Heading Off to College

For the past three years we have run a special on discounted Powers of Attorney for those of you who have children who are heading off to college. We would like to offer that special to you again this summer. From June through August, we will prepare an Advance Health-Care Directive and a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney for your children at the discounted fee of $395 (plus general excise tax). This is a savings of $1,305.

If you are wondering whether or not your child needs powers of attorney, you should know that once your child reaches the age of majority, which is eighteen in most states, you, as a parent, are no longer entitled to see your child’s medical and financial records, nor are you able to make decisions on your child’s behalf. This is because once your child reaches the age of eighteen, the law classifies him or her as an adult with legal rights to privacy and to govern his or her own life. If the unspeakable does happen, and you receive a call informing you that your child is in the hospital unconscious, in trouble, or in need of your help, a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health-Care Directive can make handling the crisis easier.

Encouraging the Conversation

In the process of estate planning, lawyers tend to put each client through a bleaching process. Each client comes in with personal intentions, but when the lawyers draft the documents, they tend to focus on the legal aspects of the estate plan, leaving their clients’ intentions out.

This can prove challenging for your beneficiaries and trustees when they seek to understand what you wanted to accomplish. In order to make sure your intentions are honored, our office offers three booklets:

(1) My Heartfelt Advance Care Plan.  An Advance Health-Care Directive makes up an essential part of your estate plan.  In the Advance Health-Care Directive, there is a section which allows you to make your End-of-Life decision. The form presents itself as a multiple-choice question: whether to prolong your life with medical care, or not. While at first glance this appears to be a simple question, it is anything but simple. To assist you with making this decision, we have prepared a booklet for you. The booklet goes into much greater detail as to what quality of life means to you. Reaching this understanding allows you to engage in conversations with those who will be involved in making medical decisions for you, and it allows for your choices to be honored and respected.

(2) My Heartfelt Personal Property Memorandum. We created this legally-binding booklet so that our clients can take their time to specify who they would like to leave their personal keepsakes to, as well as pass down the story behind each keepsake, such as, why they kept it, what it meant to them, and what they hope their beneficiaries will do with it.

(3) My Heartfelt Will. The late author W. Hodding Carter II once said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other wings.” This booklet allows you to provide your beneficiaries and fiduciaries with your personal story (your “roots”), as well as your thoughts about how you see things going (your “wings”).  And, My Heartfelt Will also serves as an organizer so you can let your trustee(s) know where you keep your important documents.

The Heartfelt Legacy Foundation is Now Online

Thanks to the help of our winter intern, Jeremy Butterfield, the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation website is now up and running. Our website is designed to provide helpful information regarding special needs planning and Advance Care Planning. We offer book and video recommendations and materials that we think might be useful to you. We also have an upcoming events calendar. Although we have no specific dates set yet, we are hoping to put on another special needs presentation featuring nationally-recognized special needs attorney Theresa Varnet sometime next year. Please check the website, periodically for more information, as we will be posting the date and location once the details are set.  Our website is heartfeltlegacyfoundation.com.

The Heartfelt Legacy Foundation is also looking forward to coordinating an effort among medical professionals, lawyers, financial planners, and other community leaders to implement an integrated process about quality of life at End-of-Life that helps families make, honor, and respect End-of-Life choices. Rather than the usual experience of checking a box as part of a legal document, this process focuses on guiding families in determining what quality of life means for each of them and helping them communicate their choices to loved ones and medical professionals so that their choices are honored and respected. Studies evaluating this type of process show significant positive results in that over ninety percent of individuals make End-of-Life decisions, and well over ninety percent of those decisions are honored and respected (as opposed to about thirty percent of individuals making an End-of-Life decision in communities that do not offer this process, with less than ten percent of those choices being honored and respected). Guilt, anxiety, and depression are greatly reduced in communities that offer this process.

To assist people with making End-of-Life decisions, the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation has created the Heartfelt Advance Care Plan, which is a booklet that helps you determine what End-of-Life means to you. We provide this booklet to each of our clients, and we now have it available online through the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation website. The booklet is a fillable PDF, which you can download or print. 

We would like to ask your assistance in helping us to fund future events, such as the Theresa Varnet Special Needs Presentation. We have included a donation form with this newsletter. If you would like to make a donation to the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation, it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the IRS, to which your contributions can be tax-deductible.

The Importance of Periodic Reviews

Periodic reviews are an essential part of estate planning as everything in life changes: laws, policies, our intentions, and even family relationships. Reviewing your estate plan from time to time gives us the opportunity to accommodate these changes. My responsibility as your attorney is to help you communicate your intentions clearly at a time when you can no longer speak for yourself. We want to make sure that there are no misunderstandings. That is why we want to use every means of communication possible to clearly pass on your intentions. This includes: (1) preparing the legal documents, such as a trust and powers of attorney; (2) providing each of our clients with our My Heartfelt Will, a booklet where you can write down your intentions in your own words; and (3) by meeting together with your family (and where appropriate, with your professional advisors) to help relay your clear intentions and instructions.

Reviewing your estate plan not only allows us to gain a deeper understanding of your intentions so that we can prepare a more meaningful plan for you, it allows us to get organized. So often we hear about those cases when a parent passes away and their children have no idea what their parent owned, much less where important documents are located.  Reviewing your estate plan also allows us to double-check the funding of your trust, check on the brokerage and bank account ownership records, and review beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

We also recommend coming in for a review if you have not yet updated your Durable Power of Attorney. In April 2014, the Hawaii Statutory Power of Attorney was signed into law as a response to the fraud surrounding the “older powers of attorney,” which many banks and financial institutions were no longer accepting. Under this new law, all financial institutions must accept this new Statutory Power of Attorney. If you have not yet updated your Durable Powers of Attorney, we encourage you to contact our office so that we can assist you in making this new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney.

Scam Alert

We have recently been informed about some local “scams,” and we wanted to pass on the warnings to you as follows:

Phony IRS Calls. If someone calls you telling you they are with the IRS and that you owe them money, hang up. The IRS will not call taxpayers to tell them they owe money. These individuals are brazen in their efforts, and even threaten to imprison you if you hang up the phone. Hang up anyway. If you are at all concerned about tax liability, call your accountant to double-check that are you current with your taxes.

Letters Demanding Payment to Release Your Deeds to You. Companies are writing letters to Hawaii residents who recently transferred title of their property, particularly to trust. These letters demand payment from you and state that they will then release your deed to you. Do not pay these companies. The Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances has your recorded deed, and we will be the one who will provide you a copy of your recorded deed.

Professional Development

One of our goals at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim is to continue to grow and develop, both individually and professionally as an estate planning law firm. This year our office will be taking a course called Non-Violent Communication, which teaches us to communicate by expressing our feelings, needs, and requests. The skills that we look forward to developing in this course will allow us to have more meaningful relationships at home, in the office, and with each of our clients. Our mission includes helping each and every client make meaningful estate planning decisions, and helping them communicate their wishes and choices clearly to their loved ones so that their choices will be honored and respected. Since our goal is to help communicate our clients’ wishes at a time when they can no longer speak for themselves, it is imperative that we continue to develop and hone our own personal communication skills.

Also, the legal profession is often criticized for lacking character. Because of this, we at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim take this very seriously. We subscribe to a monthly journal from Strata Leadership. Each month the journal focuses on a specific quality, with the sole purpose of encouraging companies to build character within their organizations.

Getting to Know Our Staff

Here at our firm, we pride ourselves on the integrative support you will receive from us. Our goal is to provide top-notch service to you, not only in memorializing your intentions through your estate plan, but also by taking care of your needs as they come up. This is who we are:

Monica Yempuku – Monica has been with our firm for over eleven years. She handles the Estate Administration side of our practice as well as managing the day-to-day operations. She is in her third year of law school and will graduate in the summer of 2018.

Britta Lau – Britta is our office manager. She is committed to providing clear communication and guidance through the Estate Planning process. To provide the most competent service, she will carefully listen to you to make sure that your specific needs are being met. Britta recently married Wilson Lau, whom she met canoe paddling.  She also coaches girls’ varsity soccer during the winter.

Jennifer Morgado – Jennifer is in training to become our newest paralegal. She assists our other paralegals in gathering information and preparing files. She also helps to maintain our newly designed Heartfelt Legacy Foundation website.

Stacie Kauila – Stacie is in charge of our “Going Green” process. She is in charge of scanning all our physical files into our computer system. You are most likely speaking to her when you call our office. She is always happy to assist with answering questions and forwarding documents to financial planners or financial institutions.

Mahalo!

Please allow us to express our gratitude to you for allowing us to assist you with your estate planning needs. As a continued service to you, we hope you find the information informative. We encourage you to continue meeting with us periodically to review your plan. We hope to see you soon.

Very Truly Yours,

Stephen B. Yim and Staff


 

2016 Newsletter

Office Happenings

The Heartfelt Legacy Foundation

We, at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim, are committed to serving our community and are happy to report that our Heartfelt Legacy Foundation sponsored a Special Needs Presentation in September of 2015 featuring Nationally-recognized special needs attorney Terrie Varnet. The event was well-attended and Terrie, as always, graciously shared her knowledge and experience with us. We hope to bring Terrie back next year some time. 

The Foundation is also looking forward to coordinating an effort among medical professionals, lawyers, financial planners, and other community leaders to implement an integrated process about quality of life at End of Life that helps families make, honor, and respect end of life choices. Rather than the usual experience of checking a box as part of a legal document, this process focuses on guiding families in determining what quality of life means for each individual, helping to communicate these choices to loved ones and medical professionals, so that choices are honored and respected. Studies evaluating this type of process show significant positive results in that over 90% of individuals make end of life decisions, and well over 90% are honored and respected (as opposed to about 30% of individuals making an end of life decision in communities that do not offer this process, with less than 10% of choices being honored and respected). Guilt, anxiety, and depression go way down in communities that offer this process.

For those of you who have recently come in for a review, you may have received the Heartfelt Advance Care Plan, a booklet put together by our Foundation to help people think about what quality of life means to them, especially at End of Life. This booklet provides thought provoking questions that that will not only help people determine what quality of life means to them, but it can also help them communicate those thoughts to not only their loved ones, but to their medical professionals as well, when they are no longer able to communicate them themselves.

Office Updates

Jennifer Morgado continues her studies at the ABA approved paralegal program at the Kapiolani Community College, which is part of the University of Hawaii Systems. 

As Jennifer looks to developing her skills as a paralegal, we hired Stacie Kauila to join us as our new Administrative Assistant.

Monica Yempuku not only completed her first year of law school at the University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law, she did so with excellence placing well within the top 20% of her class.

Britta Bourne continues to grow with our firm as she has recently been promoted to office manager.  She now holds the responsibility of making sure we all continue to grow professionally here, committed to excellence with compassion.

Periodic Reviews

Periodic reviews are an essential part of estate planning as everything changes — laws, policies, our ideas, and even family relationships. Reviewing your estate plan from time to time gives us the opportunity to accommodate these changes. My responsibility as your attorney, is to help you communicate your intentions clearly at a time when you can no longer speak for yourself.

Try to think about a conversation you had recently where a misunderstanding resulted, and where clarification was necessary. Now imagine how that conversation would’ve turned out if you weren’t there to clear up the misunderstanding. This is the reason why it’s so important for us to use every means of communication available to us to clearly pass on your intentions. This includes: (1) preparing the legal documents such as a trust and powers of attorney; (2) providing each client with our Heartfelt Will, a booklet where they write their intentions down in their own words and handwriting — like an operating manual for their estate plan; and (3) meeting together with their family (and where appropriate, their professional advisors) to help relay their clear intention and instruction. 

Reviewing your estate plan not only allows us to gain a deeper understanding of each other so we can prepare a more meaningful plan for you, it allows us to get organized. So often we hear that the appointed trustee, after a parent dies, does not know what the parent owned or where documents are located. The review allows us to double check the funding of your trust, check brokerage and bank account ownership records, and review beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and life insurance.

This periodic review becomes particularly more important with regard to retirement accounts in light of a recent Supreme Court Case, Clark v. Rameker where the Court determined that “inherited IRA” lose certain creditor-protection. This means for each of us, that we must pay closer attention to our beneficiary designations.  There are ways to provide creditor-protection for our IRAs that we leave to our spouse and children, and require a collaborative effort among your estate planning attorney and financial planner.

Discounted Powers of Attorney for Your Children Heading Off to College

For the past two years we ran a special for those of you whose children were heading off to college for discounted Powers of Attorney. From June to August, we will prepare a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive for your children for a fee of $395 plus the General Excise Tax. Usually our fee is $850 per a Power of Attorney, but we’ll discount the fee to $395 for both, a savings of $1,305.

If you are wondering whether or not your child needs powers of attorney, you should know that once an individual reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in most states, their parents are no longer entitled to see their child’s medical and financial records, nor are they able to make decisions on their behalf. Once an individual reaches 18, the law classifies them as adults with legal rights to privacy and to govern their own lives. If the unspeakable does happen, and you receive a call informing you that your child is in the hospital unconscious, or in trouble, or in need of your help, a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive can make handling the crisis much easier.

If you would be interesting in finding out more about our Powers of Attorney Special, please contact our office for more information (808) 524-0251.

Three Reasons to Review Your Estate Plan

It seems that good things always come in 3’s. This has been my experience in the new laws that have occurred for us as it relates to estate planning. These significant law changes include the New Statutory Power of Attorney, the Estate Tax Exemption increase, and our new Statutory Creditor-Protection law for real estate.  These three laws have solidified as planning opportunities in the last few years.  If you have not reviewed with us in the past three years, I strongly encourage you to call to make an appointment to see if you want to take advantage of the new laws.

The New Statutory Power of Attorney

This new Hawaii Statutory Power of Attorney (SPOA) was signed into law in April of 2014. The law came about as a result of many financial institutions refusing to accept a legal Durable Power of Attorney. The purpose and intention of the power of attorney is to keep financial matters running smoothly during periods of incapacity, and financial institutions not honoring these powers during these times can cause considerable stress for families.

The State of Hawaii prepared this new SPOA, which every financial institution must accept, in order to help families keep their finances running during periods of incapacity.

We have developed this new SPOA for our clients, and we encourage each of you to contact our office so that we can assist you in making this new SPOA.

The Estate Tax Exemption

The estate tax exemption for 2016 is $5.45 million per an individual, up from $5.43 million last year. This increase reinforces the need to shift tax planning from estate tax planning to capital-gains tax planning.

If you haven’t yet taken time to explore the possibility of eliminating capital gains tax for your children through the Joint Legacy Trust, we encourage you to come in for a review meeting to discuss this in detail. In short, the Joint Legacy Trust can eliminate the potential for capital gains tax to your children should they sell real estate or other appreciated assets at your passing, making the entire estate tax-free to the children (other than qualified retired assets like an IRA). It can also simplify your plan and clearly reflect your intentions.

The New Creditor-Protection Deed

In 2012, the State of Hawaii became one of two states that allows you to hold property in Trust and maintain creditor-protection if one spouse gets sued. Just driving on Hawaii roads these days, with pedestrians, moped riders, bicycle riders, motorcyclists, people on their cellphones, the narrowing of lanes, the building of bike paths, and the fact that most of us are amateur drivers, makes for a stressful experience. If we make a mistake and hit one of these pedestrians, moped riders, bicycle riders, motorcyclists; we can protect our real estate from an overzealous attorney who would like to capitalize on our mistake.

Professional Development

One of our goals at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim is to continue to grow and develop, individually professionally, and as an estate planning law firm.  This year our office has designed and will be taking a course called “nonviolent communications” which teaches us to communicate expressing feelings, needs, and requests.  The skills that we look forward to developing in this course will allow us to have more meaningful relationships at home, in the office, and with each client.  Our mission includes helping each and every client make meaningful estate planning decisions, helping these clients communicate these wishes and choices clearly to their loved ones, so that their choices can be honored and respected.  Since our goal is to help communicate our clients’ choices at a time when they cannot speak, it is imperative that we continue to each continue to develop and hone our own personal communication skills.

The legal profession is often criticized for lacking character.  Because of this, we at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim take this very seriously.  Because of this we have begun subscribing to a monthly journal from the company Strata Leadership.  The journal focuses on a character quality each month, with the sole purpose of encouraging companies to build character in their organizations.

Reading Recommendations

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande.  Atul Guwande is an M.D. who takes a look at modern medicine’s “over medicalization” and encourages us to get back to the humanity of living a good life, to the end.

Sycamore Road, John Grisham.  Sycamore Road is a novel filled with suspense, intrigue, and family conflict when the matriarch of the family writes his will and immediately afterwards hangs himself from a Sycamore Tree on the family property.

 For future reading recommendations, periodically visit http://stephenyimestateplanning.com/blog.

MAHALO!

Please allow us to express our gratitude to you for allowing us to assist you with your estate planning needs. As a continued service to you, we hope you find the information above informative.  We encourage you to continue to periodically meet with us to review your plan.  We hope to see you soon.

Very Truly Yours,

Stephen B. Yim and Staff


 

2015 Newsletter

Office Happenings

The Heartfelt Legacy Foundation

We, at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim, are committed to serving our community, so on September 8, 2014, our office created a public charity called the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation. The foundation’s main purposes are to: (1) provide information to families with children with disabilities by hosting annual seminars and workshops with nationally recognized speakers who specialize in Special Needs Planning; and (2) to implement a process called Respecting Choices® in Hawaii. Respecting Choices® in a nationally recognized process that helps families make, honor, and respect end of life decisions.

Going Paperless

We have decided as an office, to reduce the amount of unnecessary papers and files.  Many reasons have led us to this decision, including: (1) the cost of storing files; and (2) the security risk of maintaining physical files of personal information.

We will no longer be maintaining any paper documents (either originals or copies). May we strongly suggest that you review your estate plan and keep your documents in a safe and secure place.  Please notify our office if you cannot locate your original estate plan.

Staff Updates

Last year, Jennifer Morgado joined us as our Administrative Assistant as Marie Yempuku left us to attend law school in Utah. Jennifer is currently attending the ABA approved paralegal program at the Kapiolani Community College, which is part of the University of Hawaii Systems. 

Our office manager, Monica Yempuku will be returning to school this fall in pursuit of her law degree at the University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law.

Britta Bourne has taken on a fundamental role in coordinating efforts in bringing Respecting Choices to Hawaii.  She is also currently enrolled in the Advance Care Planning course to become a certified administrator of Advance Care Planning.

Periodic Reviews

Periodic reviews are an essential part of estate planning as everything changes — laws, policies, our ideas, and even family relationships. Reviewing your estate plan from time to time gives us the opportunity to accommodate these changes. My responsibility as your attorney, is to help you communicate your intentions clearly at a time when you can no longer speak for yourself.

Try to think about a conversation you had recently where a misunderstanding resulted, and where clarification was necessary. Now, try to imagine how that conversation would have turned out if you weren’t there to clear up the misunderstanding. This is the reason why it’s so important for us to use every means of communication available to us to clearly pass on your intentions. This includes: (1) preparing the legal documents such as a trust and powers of attorney; (2) providing each client with our Heartfelt Will, a booklet where they write their intentions down in their own words and handwriting — like an operating manual for their estate plan; and (3) meeting together with their family (and where appropriate, their professional advisors) to help relay their clear intention and instruction. 

Discounted Powers of Attorney for Your Children Heading Off to College

Last June we ran a special for those of you whose children were heading off to college — whether mainland or local college — for discounted Powers of Attorney. We will be running a similar special this year. From June to August, we will prepare a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive for your children for a fee of $395 plus the General Excise Tax. Usually our fee is $500 per a Power of Attorney, but for the month of June we will discount the fee to $395 for both, a savings of $605.

If you are wondering whether or not your child needs powers of attorney, you should know that once an individual reaches the age of majority, which is 18 in most states, their parents are no longer entitled to see their child’s medical and financial records, nor are they able to make decisions on their behalf. Once an individual reaches 18, the law classifies them as adults with legal rights to privacy and to govern their own lives. If the unspeakable does happen, and you receive a call informing you that your child is in the hospital unconscious, or in trouble, or in need of your help, a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive can make handling the crisis much easier.

If you would be interesting in finding out more about our Powers of Attorney Special, please contact our office for more information (808) 524-0251.

The Big Three Law Changes

It seems that good things always come in 3’s. This has been my experience in the new laws that have occurred for us as it relates to estate planning. These significant law changes include the New Statutory Power of Attorney, the Estate Tax Exemption increase, and our new Statutory Creditor-Protection law for real estate.

The New Statutory Power of Attorney

This new Hawaii Statutory Power of Attorney (SPOA) was signed into law in April of 2014. The law came about as a result of many financial institutions refusing to accept a legal Durable Power of Attorney. The purpose and intention of the power of attorney is to keep financial matters running smoothly during periods of incapacity, and financial institutions not honoring these powers during these times can cause considerable stress for families.

The State of Hawaii prepared this new SPOA, which every financial institution must accept, in order to help families keep their finances running during periods of incapacity.

We have developed this new SPOA for our clients, and we encourage each of you to contact our office so that we can assist you in making this new SPOA.

The Estate Tax Exemption

The estate tax exemption is now $5.43 million per an individual, up from $5.34 million last year. This increase reinforces the need to shift tax planning from estate tax planning to capital-gains tax planning. President Obama, in January of this year, suggested that we increase the capital gains tax rate from 15% to 28%.

If you haven’t yet taken time to explore the possibility of eliminating capital gains tax for your children through the Joint Legacy Trust, we encourage you to come in for a review meeting to discuss this in detail. In short, the Joint Legacy Trust can eliminate the potential for capital gains tax to your children should they sell real estate or other appreciated assets at your passing, making the entire estate tax-free to the children (other than qualified retired assets like an IRA). It can also simplify your plan and clearly reflect your intentions.

The New Creditor-Protection Deed

In 2012, the State of Hawaii became one of two states that allows you to hold property in Trust and maintain creditor-protection if one spouse gets sued. Just driving on Hawaii roads these days, with pedestrians, moped riders, bicycle riders, motorcyclists, people on their cellphones, the narrowing of lanes, the building of bike paths, and the fact that most of us are amateur drivers, makes for a stressful experience. If we make a mistake and hit one of these pedestrians, moped riders, bicycle riders, motorcyclists; we can protect our real estate from an overzealous attorney who would like to capitalize on our mistake.

MAHALO!

Please allow us to express our gratitude to you for allowing us to assist you with your estate planning needs. As a continued service to you, we hope you find the information above informative.  We encourage you to continue to periodically meet with us to review your plan.  We hope to see you soon.

Very Truly Yours,

Stephen B. Yim and Staff


 

2014 Newsletter

I recently received a call from a client who has a daughter attending college on the mainland.  She had found out that her daughter had been in a ski-accident and was in the hospital.  When the mother called the hospital to find out the status of her daughter, the hospital would not release any information and did not allow the mother to make any decisions on her daughter’s behalf.  You can imagine that stress that this caused the mother, being thousands of miles and hours away from her daughter.

This situation is all too common and easy for families to overlook when children leave for college.  Once your child reaches the age 18 you are no longer entitled to see their child’s medical and financial records or make decisions on their behalf.  As a result, it is important for young adults to appoint trusted individuals to make medical and financial decisions in the event they are unable to do so.

Few 18-year-olds consider the need for an estate plan, simply because most have little in the way of property. But if your child were to lose the ability to make or communicate decisions, medical professionals might refuse to consult with or even release information to you.  Without proper documents, parents generally can't access a child's financial accounts, either.

When a child leaves home to attend college, whether it be in the US or abroad, many parents fear a call from law enforcement, a hospital, or their child’s friend, informing them that their child has been in an accident or an emergency has occurred. Chances are that most of the calls you will receive from your child during the four years they are away for college will be happy, and will involve a request for money. If the unspeakable does happen and you receive a call informing you that your child is in the hospital unconscious, in trouble, or in need of your help, there are things you can do now to make handling such a crisis much easier. Even in situations that are not emergencies, the options discussed will facilitate actions that need to be taken.

There are two important Powers of Attorney your child will want to consider making:

An Advance Health Care Directive gives you the ability to act on your child’s behalf with regard to medical decision-making, if your child is unable to do so. 

A General Durable Power of Attorney gives you legal authority to act on your child’s behalf, regarding financial matters, regardless of whether they are able to make decisions on their own or not. It can be used in matters of both emergency and convenience.

During the month of June, I am extending an invitation to anyone who would like to have a Durable General Power of Attorney and Advance Directive prepared.  My usual fee for these is $500.00 per Power of Attorney (one for health care matters and one for financial matters).  However, for the month of June, I will prepare both of these for a total of $375.00 plus the General Excise Tax, for a savings of $625.00.

For those of you who have not yet taken advantage of the new State of Hawaii law affording creditor-protection for property transferred to a Revocable Trust, I will prepare and record these deeds for $250.00 plus the recording fee and the General Excise tax, a saving of $250.00 off of my usual fee for deed work of $500.00.

REMINDER:

As a gently reminder, please also keep in mind that if we have not seen you in the past three years, or you have experienced any significant changes in your life, please schedule a review appointment.

And, if you or someone you know has separate trusts, one for each spouse, please consider discussing the Joint Legacy Trust as an alternative.  I discussed this in the 2013 Newsletter, and a recent article in Forbes Magazine addresses this. 

The new estate tax law and the creditor-protection deed law favor married couples, and these new favorable laws provide married couples who consider most of their assets as jointly-owned a never-seen-before opportunity to (1) save thousands of dollars in potential capital gains tax; (2) simplify their estate plans; and (3) secure creditor-protection for their Hawaii real estate.  Please call my office to come in for a free consultation to see if this Joint Legacy Trust is right for you.

Please find enclosed a complimentary copy of the Forbes Article.

Thank You for allowing me to help you with your estate planning needs.  We are constantly looking to improve the way we assist families with not only creating meticulous estate planning documents, we also strive to help our clients make informed decisions for all phases of life – from wellness, to diminished capacity, to incapacity, to end of life decision making, and finally passing on.  We not only look to assist clients in communicating their instructions, we also want to help clients pass on their intentions and reasons for making their plans.  And, we also want to help our clients’ Trustees, advisors, and beneficiaries clearly receive these instructions and intentions: to honor and respect our clients’ decisions, to make life easier for their loved ones and to preserve family relationships.


 

2013 Newsletter

We are already half-way into the Year!  This is our first Newsletter that we have prepared for our clients.  The intent of this Newsletter is to keep our clients up to date with laws that may affect your estate plan as well as provide you with information about our practice.  This newsletter addresses a couple of significant changes in our State and Federal Laws as well as some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help you with keeping your estate plan current.

The New “Old” Tax Law

We all can breathe a sigh of relief with regard to the estate and gift tax law as President Obama recently signed into law the current Estate and Gift Tax law.  Essentially, we get to keep the Gift and Estate Exclusion of 5 million (indexed for inflation) dollars per spouse.  Also left intact is what is referred to as “portability” which means that a surviving spouse can elect to take a deceased spouse’s unused exclusion.  About the only significant change in this area is that the tax rate for estates above 5 million dollars increased to 40%.

The New State of Hawaii Creditor-Protection Deed

In July of last year, the State of Hawaii gave us a new law that extends creditor-protection for real property held jointly as tenants by the entirety (husband and wife or reciprocal partners) transferred into Trust.

This means the property is protected from a lawsuit against one spouse, even when the property is held in Trust.

The New Joint Legacy Trust - Learn how to Save tax, Simplify your estate plan, and Secure creditor-protection.

The new estate tax law and the creditor-protection deed law favor married couples, and these new favorable laws provide married couples who consider most of their assets as jointly-owned a never-seen-before opportunity to (1) save thousands of dollars in potential capital gains tax; (2) simplify their estate plans; and (3) secure creditor-protection for their Hawaii real estate.  Please call my office to come in for a free consultation to see if this Joint Legacy Trust is right for you.

My Heartfelt Will – Coloring in your plan.

I am very excited about our “second generation My Heartfelt Will” which I copyrighted and provide to each of my clients to add their touch to their estate plan.  My Heartfelt Will offers each client to reach into their past to write their personal stories and experiences that shaped their lives.  It also allows for a place to write instruction and guidance to trustees and family members as to how they hope the inheritance is used to provide benefit and meaning to the lives of their beneficiaries.  The importance of this cannot be understated.  A recent study by Allianz Insurance Company revealed that 86% of baby boomers preferred family stories as opposed to receiving cash as their legacy from their parents.  And 65% of baby boomers said in the study that they felt it was very important that they receive instruction on how their parents’ wishes about their family, death, and estate should be fulfilled.  My Heartfelt Will is intended to add this meaning to one’s estate plan.  If you haven’t been in for a review in a couple of years, please schedule an appointment to review your plan and receive My Heartfelt Will as a gift from me.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How often do you suggest that we review our estate plan and what is the anticipated cost of reviewing a plan?

A: Estate planning should be viewed as a process rather than a static, one-time event because our lives are not static.  Change is always occurring, in the law, in your lives, in the community, everything is ever-changing.  Because our lives change, we want to review our estate plans to accommodate change.  It’s kind of like going to the doctor.  Because our bodies change as we get older, we see our doctors to accommodate these changes, whether through medication, surgery, or recommended life-style change, all in order to stay as healthy as possible.  With regard to the cost of reviewing the estate plan, the changes will vary depending on the work involved.  Usually, the review meeting is at no charge.  And you can always decide how much work you would like me to do for you after the consultation.  The process for reviewing a plan includes the following:

1.                  Call our office to schedule a review meeting, about every three years after you establish your plan;

2.                  Meet with me for about 45 minutes to go over your plan;

3.                  After the meeting, our office will send you a letter to reiterate what we talked about in the meeting and to provide a quote for the anticipated work;

4.                  You would then confirm that you would like to proceed with the work.

Q: How can we prepare for this review meeting?

A: The review meeting is a very important step in the estate planning process.  Not only can we discuss any changes in your life and any new laws, we can examine your plan with a better understanding of estate planning to ensure that your wishes are clearly spelled out.  The following suggested steps help to prepare for a meaningful review meeting:

1.                  Take a look through your plan.  Pay close attention to who you named to make decisions for you and determine if you’d like to make any changes;

2.                  Take a look at who your beneficiaries are and the timing and manner of distributions;

3.                  Prepare an inventory of your assets;

4.                  Check the title of your real estate and the beneficiary designations of annuities, retirement accounts, and life insurance;

5.                  Give some thought to your beneficiaries, how are they managing money?  How are their relationships with each other or their spouses?  How are their careers?  Are there any concerns for any of them?

6.                  How are you doing?  Are you planning to make any significant changes in your life such as moving?  How are you managing your affairs?  Do you feel you need more help in this area?

The Benefit of a Family Meeting

One key element of ensuring a successful estate plan and transition of assets is to engage in a family meeting with the lawyer, when appropriate, once the estate plan has been executed.  These meetings may not be appropriate when children are minors or family friction exists.  The benefit of the meeting is for parents to clearly state in their own words, their intention and meaning behind the estate plan, and for the children to meet the estate planning attorney and other advisors.  While there is a cost associated with this meeting (about $500.00), I believe it is a critical step in the estate planning process.