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How to Avoid Probate in Hawaii April 20, 2020

Honolulu, Honolulu
How to Avoid Probate in Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

When a Hawaii resident passes away, state rules require that the deceased’s estate be managed through a legal process known as probate. According to probate law, the court will first try to distribute assets according to the terms of a will. However, if these instructions aren’t available, the court will use intestacy laws to determine who will inherit assets. While this process is standard, it can be time-consuming and complicated for surviving relatives, so many individuals opt to take measures to avoid probate.  

3 Tips for Avoiding Probate in Hawaii

1. Create a Living Trust

Living, or revocable, trusts are legal documents similar to wills in that they outline how you want your assets to be managed while you’re alive and how they should be distributed upon your passing. These distribution wishes will be executed by an individual you name known as a “successor trustee.”  

While your trustee will need to adhere to the terms of the trust, all listed assets will be distributed without the need for probate. Another benefit of living trusts is that they allow all of these matters to remain private. By contrast, all matters handled under probate law are made public record.

2. Legally Recognize Community Property

probate lawMarried couples can legally avoid probate in Hawaii by establishing a right of survivorship. This legal agreement will designate all of your assets as community property that will be transferred to the surviving spouse.

However, this option will not necessarily prevent probate indefinitely. Once the surviving spouse is deceased, the inherited assets will still need to go through probate unless additional estate planning measures are taken.

3. Make Assets Transferrable or Payable on Death

Some assets, such as real estate and bank accounts, can carry specific instructions on how they will be handled upon your death. For example, funds from checking or savings accounts can go directly to an individual if they’re named as a payable-on-death beneficiary on the bank account.

To achieve a similar result with homes or other forms of real estate, you’ll need to name a transfer-on-death beneficiary on the property’s deed. You can do the same with automobiles as long as the vehicle is registered with transfer-on-death instructions for a specific beneficiary.


If you’re looking to keep your assets out of probate, consult with the attorneys at the Law Offices of Neil T. Nakamura & Associates. Well-versed in Hawaii probate law, this legal team will review your needs and create the necessary documents, such as living trusts, to ensure your property is easily inherited by the beneficiaries of your choosing. To learn more about these estate law services, visit these Oahu attorneys online. To schedule a free consultation, call the Honolulu, HI, office at (808) 945-7645.

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