Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Hawaii wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will), to create valid Hawaii wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Hawaii last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements of a Hawaii Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind.
Signature: A Hawaii last will and testament shall be in writing and shall be signed by the testator or by some other individual in the testator's presence and at the testator's express direction.
Witnesses: Two witnesses must witness the testator's signing and dating of a Hawaii last will and testament, and these witnesses must sign the wills themselves.
Writing: A Hawaii last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Writings intended as wills: In some circumstances, Hawaii laws may recognize a written document even though it was not constructed to the specific will requirements.
Holographic wills: Hawaii laws will recognize handwritten wills as valid. However, handwritten wills must follow specific guidelines set by the state laws.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Hawaii laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
Our Hawaii wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Hawaii wills form may also be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
A will may not divert life insurance benefits to another beneficiary.
A will may not divert retirement benefits to another beneficiary.
Spousal elective share: The surviving spouse of the testator has a right to a percentage of the estate depending on the amount of time spent in the marriage according to a formula set by Hawaii laws.
Providing for Pets
Hawaii law currently does not have specific statutes pertaining to providing care for pets. However, the testator may specify a beneficiary as the new owner of a pet using our Hawaii wills form.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Hawaii will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Hawaii will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Hawaii laws.
Revoking a Will
A Hawaii will and testament may be revoked by:
(1) Constructing a subsequent will that revokes the previous will in whole or in part expressly or by inconsistency (different terms in the subsequent will as compared to the original will); or
(2) Performing a revocatory act on the will (which includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will or any part of it), if the testator performed the act with the intent and for the purpose of revoking, or if another individual performed the act in the testator's conscious presence and by the testator's direction.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of a Hawaii last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, and distribute property as designated in the Hawaii last will.
Any property owned by you or as tenants in common will undergo probate proceedings. Under Hawaii laws, if the estate is worth less than $60,000 then probate procedures may be avoided.
Hawaii's estate tax is equal to Federal estate credit for state death taxes. No additional estate taxes are due on an estate covered by a Hawaii last will. The personal representative in charge of the estate's administration has 60 days to file the Hawaii estate tax form after the testator's death.
It is extremely important to make a Hawaii will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Hawaii laws.
For example, a spouse will receive the entire estate if no children or parents exist at the time of the decedent's death. If there is one surviving child but no spouse or parents after the death, then the child receives the estate.
If you make a Hawaii will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.