Do you have a plan for who will handle your estate after you pass away? Many people do and this is documented in their will with the naming of a personal representative. When a family member or friend passes away in Hawaii, either their will, will explain who is responsible for stepping in and closing out their affairs in a process known as probate or the courts will evaluate the surviving family members to determine who should serve in this capacity. The provisions for estate administration in Hawaii are found in HI Rev Stat § 560:3-120 et seq.
Most people create a will to express their estate planning wishes including the naming of a guardian for their minor child and stipulating who will be their personal representative. An executor, also known as a personal representative, plays a vital role in keeping beneficiaries up to date about the status of probate and in informing claimants like creditors about the progress within the estate. As a Hawaii personal representative lawyer will tell you, an executor is eligible to retain legal counsel to help guide them through this process and ensure that the various tasks and responsibilities are handled appropriately.
When to Hire a Lawyer
In these circumstances, it’s beneficial to hire a personal representative lawyer in Hawaii sooner rather than later to avoid the frustrating situation of having beneficiaries file a lawsuit against you, alleging that you have violated your fiduciary duty to them. Executors or personal representatives who are found to be involved in illegal activity or malfeasance could be held accountable in the form of personal liability.
In a court case, this can represent significant changes in impacts to the personal representative’s individual life. This is particularly frustrating for those family members who stepped up to the role of personal representative because no one else wanted to do it or because the deceased placed a great deal of trust in this individual. Having legal counsel gives you the peace of mind that if a question emerges or if a conflict arises you have a place to turn. As a personal representative attorney in Hawaii can tell you, it can be overwhelming to handle this process on your own and knowing that you’ve done your due diligence to protect all of your rights can ease your mind and allow you to focus on what is most important. A personal representative in Hawaii starts the process by filing formal paperwork to open probate.
After this point, notice must be given to creditors. HI Rev Stat § 560:3-801. These creditors are anyone to whom the deceased owed money at the time he or she passed away and this could include credit card companies, medical offices, and more. These creditors, in addition to tax obligations at the state or federal level, will need to be handled before any distributions to beneficiaries can be made on the part of the personal representative. The personal representative must keep this inventory of all of the assets inside the probate estate clearly organized so that if someone were to ask questions about the process undertaken by the executor, it can be easily identified in a full accounting. An executor might not realize all of the work that is involved in gathering these assets or in communicating with beneficiaries who could be hostile or distrusting.
Having an attorney at your side to support you during this period can be very helpful for showing the beneficiaries of the estate that the personal representative is taking their role seriously. Do not hesitate to get legal counsel and to keep track of all interactions with a Hawaii personal representative attorney. This information could become important when dealing with estate administration fees.