How to Make a Valid and Effective Last Will and Testament (in Hawaii)

In order to be valid, a will made in Hawaii does NOT need to be notarized; however, it must be signed by the testator (person making the will), and witnessed by two other individuals, who must be present when the testator signs the will, and must sign as witnesses to the signing (unless it’s a holographic will, which must be in the testator’s own handwriting, and signed at the bottom).

A will should include the following, at a minimum:

1. A statement that it revokes all prior wills and codicils (a “codicil” is an amendment, or change, to a will, that does not revoke or replace the will, just changes or adds to it)

2. A statement of the testator’s full legal name, and all “also known as” names, such as maiden names, variations with initials, etc., and city/state of residence

3. A list of close family members, including spouse (if any), and ALL biological and adopted children, even if you are not leaving them anything. (“I am married to Mary Smith. I have 3 children: John Smith, born on March 3, 1970; Jack Jones, born on April 24, 1972; and Isabelle Smith-Jones, born on November 8, 1978.”) If you are leaving someone out, you can state, “I intentionally make no provision for John Smith, and for all purposes of this will, John Smith will be deemed to have predeceased me.”  You can also leave out John Smith’s kids, grandkids, etc., by saying “John Smith, and all of his descendants, will be deemed to have predeceased me.”

4. A statement of WHO you want to be your “Personal Representative” (what we call the ‘executor’ here in Hawaii), and it’s a good idea to name at least one alternate (“I nominate Jane Smith to be my Personal Representative; if Jane fails or ceases to serve, I nominate Peter Jones to be my Personal Representative.”)

5. A statement of any specific items or amounts that you want to leave to certain people. For example, “I leave my gold ring with one large diamond and three small sapphires to my daughter Mary,” “I leave the sum of $1,000 to my cousin Jake Smith, of Portland, Oregon,” “I leave my Ameriprise Account, ending with 0989, to the Kauai Humane Society,” “I leave my coin collection and all of my model trains to my friend Keoni Carvalho, of Hanalei, Hawaii,” “I leave my house, located at 3455 Poipu Road, Koloa, Hawaii, and all contents, to my niece James Woods,” or anything similar.

6. A statement of what happens to the REST of your property and assets, NOT listed specifically. For example, “I leave the rest of my estate to my children, in equal shares, per stirpes,” “I leave the rest of my estate as follows: 30% to my mother Mary Jones, and 70% to my sister Leilani Fairbanks.” You can do this all to one person, to a group in equal shares (e.g., “my nieces and nephews, in equal shares”), or in specific percentages. (“per stirpes” means “by the roots” and means that if the person does not survive you, their portion will go to their children, and down the line; for example, “to my nieces and nephews, per stirpes” would have the share of a deceased niece going to her children; if she has no children, it would go to the other nieces/nephews. If you do not want this, you can say “to my surviving nieces and nephews” – that would mean that nothing goes to a niece’s or nephew’s children, it all goes only to the nieces and nephews who are alive at your death.)

Published on March 27, 2020 at 2:24 am  Comments Off on How to Make a Valid and Effective Last Will and Testament (in Hawaii)  
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