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What Happens To Us When We Die?

on August 19, 2014

Estate Planning Group is a locally owned law practice specializing the areas of Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Medicaid Planning, Asset Protection, and Conservatorship or Guardianship Proceedings.


What happens to us when we die?

In the realms of religion and philosophy, the question has generated a recurring theme of discussion and debate. But while matters of the soul and spirit certainly take priority in many of these dialogues, what is unfortunately all too often overlooked is what could also happen to our material possessions when the time eventually comes. Embedded in our belongings are often precious memories, items of heritage, and within monetary assets, a tool for securing a family’s financial future. If King Tut has taught us anything it’s that, unfortunately, we cannot take our treasures with us to the other side; it is up to us to ensure that they go to the right people, at the right times, while avoiding any metaphorical and sometimes all too literal grave robbers.

So we write a will, big deal right?

Not necessarily. What many people don’t know is that wills don’t automatically grant powers of distribution or the right to property on their own. They first need to go through probate: a court proceeding which requires the presence of any interested persons in court, possibly on multiple occasions, to receive decisions made by a judge on how any assets left behind by the deceased person are to be distributed. Probate proceedings take time, money, and are visible to the general public. Plus, assets are often frozen during the proceeding; a family in need of the remaining monetary funds to pay for living expenses can be denied access to them for weeks and months.

The best way to avoid all of the above is through a revocable living trust…..

The best way to avoid all of the above is through a revocable living trust, or RLT. RLTs are exempt from probate – they are legal entities, recognized by banks, insurance companies and all other manner of financial institutions, which contain all of your instructions, and can be changed to suit your needs at any time in the course of one’s lifetime. Two fairly high profile (albeit an unusually large and complicated) examples of trusts are the Kamehameha Schools, as established by Bernice Pauahi Bishop in 1883, and the Charles Reed Bishop Trust. The trustees of both trusts continue to carry out the instructions left behind by Bernice and Charles Bishop in preserving Hawaiian history and culture, and the legacy of the Hawaiian people. While we don’t all have assets and belongings to the same degree as Bernice Pauahi Bishop and her husband, each of us does have the ability to consolidate what we own and leave specific instructions for each portion of our financial assets, our property, and our personal belongings. At Estate Planning Group, we are dedicated to protecting our clients’ futures in the face of the inevitable through the use of revocable living trusts and other estate planning tools.

For more information on how we can assist you, please feel free to contact us and a representative will contact you within one business day.

You can find more information on probate proceedings here.

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