Charting a Course for Family Security

Needs of Survivors

IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE

Family and friends may assist immediately after the death with the following: 

  1. Take turns answering the door or telephone and keep careful records of all calls.
  2. Provide meals for the first several days.
  3. Arrange for child care if necessary.
  4. Make a list of immediate family, close friends, and employer or business colleagues and notify each by telephone.
  5. Arrange for accommodations for visiting relatives and friends.
  6. Take care of special household needs such as cleaning, lawn care, and maintenance.
  7. Prepare a list of persons to receive acknowledgments of flowers, calls, etc., and send acknowledgments.
  8. Prepare a list of distant persons to be notified by letter and prepare printed notices to be sent to each. 
INITIAL COUNSELING
 
1.   AUTOPSY. An autopsy may be performed if, in the opinion of the coroner, the physician, the prosecuting attorney or the chief of police, it would be in the best interests of the public's safety or welfare where death occurred under any of the following circumstances:  result of violence, result of any accident, by suicide, suddenly when in apparent good health, when unattended by a physician, in prison, in a suspicious or unusual manner, or within 24 hours after admission to a hospital or institution.
A family may wish to have an autopsy performed under other circumstances for the following reasons:
 
    • To satisfy family members as to the cause of death; 
    • To provide insight as to whether the decedent died from a hereditary disease or condition that may affect other family members.
    • To furnish evidence of possible medical malpractice by the attending physician's failure to either property diagnose or properly treat the decedent.  If this is the reason, the autopsy should be performed at an independent institution.  If the attending physician opposes the autopsy, we would probably recommend that it be performed.

Reasons why the family may wish that an autopsy not be performed might include:

    • It may be offensive to the religious or cultural beliefs of the client or his family;
    • The autopsy may yield information that would be harmful to the decedent's memory such as a disease which carries a social stigma;
    • The autopsy may disclose a condition that the client did not disclose on an insurance policy application and the incontestability period has not yet expired.
 2.   DEATH CERTIFICATE.  When providing information to the physician to complete the death certificate or reviewing the death certificate before it is filed, it is important to make sure that the information included on the death certificate is accurate.  The domicile of the decedent for example, is important for inheritance tax  purposes, to determine who the heirs are, to determine the surviving spouse's and children's elective share rights and allowances to determine rights of creditors, and to determine the place of probate.  The cause of death and age are important because they may affect insurance coverage.

3.   DETERMINING DECEDENT'S DOMICILE.  The terms "domicile" and "residence" though similar in meaning, are not the same. A person may have more than one residence, but only one domicile.  A person may physically reside (be a resident) in more than one place.  A person's domicile is that person's principal place of residence and legal residence.  Domicile is a residence at a particular place accompanied by an intent to remain there permanently or for an indefinite length of time.  To determine a decedent's domicile, consider both his subjective intention and the following objective factors:
    • Voter Registration; 
    • Auto, boat and aircraft registrations;
    • Driver's license, pilot's license, professional licenses, professional registrations, and other licenses;
    • Gun permits and registrations;
    • Ownership of residential real estate within the state;
    • Residential leases;
    • Location of financial accounts such as checking, savings, certificates of deposit, money market funds, mutual funds, securities accounts custody management accounts and investment management accounts;
    • Location of safe deposit box;
    • Location of Will and Living Will;
    • Passport;
    • Business interests and activities such as business cards employment contracts, office leases, 
    • Certificates of doing business, corporate records, and partnership records;
    • Utility records;
    • Insurance records;
    • Membership records such as church, professional clubs, alumni organizations, health spas, political parties, and private clubs;
    • Tax records such as place of filing federal income tax returns, state income tax returns, and payment of real estate taxes;
    • Children's school attendance and other activities;
    • Notices to officials of other states of termination of residence in that state.
 4.    OBITUARY.  By law, the Hawaii State Department of Health reports the name and date of death to the newspaper to be published under "Vital Statistics".  You have a choice as to whether or not to provide information to the newspaper for an obituary (which the newspaper will publish without charge) or for a funeral notice (which the newspaper charges for).

               You should consider whether or not to publish an obituary.  An obituary does serve the purpose of advising friends and acquaintances of the death, the names of survivors, and the time and place of the funeral.  The problem is that the obituary also advises burglars of the same information. It is not unusual for the decedent's home, as well as those of his relatives, to be burglarized during the time of the funeral.
 
               If you decide to publish an obituary, you may consider including some or all of the following:
    • the names of relatives and their relationship to the decedent; 
    • organizations to which the decedent belonged;
    • where contributions might be made in the decedent's memory;
    • the date and place of the funeral services;
    • the decedent's home address (may be included or omitted);
    • the decedent's age, place of birth, cause of death;
    • the decedent's occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, and outstanding work.
       
5.   SAVE ALL PAPERS.  The survivors often start going through papers and throwing out those things that do not seem important.  They should be advised not to throw anything out until after all papers have been reviewed by the attorney.

6.   LIFE CHANGING DECISIONS.  A death in the family often results in the surviving spouse reassessing choices he or she has made and making new decisions.  Life changing decisions such as moving, selling the house, going back to or quitting work, remarrying, and making changes in a Will (though the estate plan should be reviewed and changed where appropriate) should be delayed, or in any event, approached very cautiously.  As a general rule of thumb, such changes should not be considered for at least the first six months to a year after the death.

7.   PLANNING FOR FUTURE.
 
    • Review the surviving spouse's existing Will to determine if it continues to represent his or her wishes for the distribution of property and the guardianship of children. 
    • Evaluate the surviving spouse's life insurance needs.
    • Evaluate the surviving spouse's health insurance needs.  The surviving spouse should obtain health insurance to protect him or her and his or her family in the event of substantial medical expenses.
    • Arrange for the proper management of current funds.  The surviving spouse may wish to employ a certified financial planner to assist and advise.
       

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS
 

1.   INITIAL DECISIONS.  There are basically three initial decisions to be made:

    • what to do with the body:  cremation, burial, or donation to medical school;
    • whether there should be a viewing of the body;
    • whether there should be a death ceremony, and if so, what type. 

When considering these initial decisions, it would be helpful to first ascertain whether the decedent left any written instructions.  If the decedent did leave instructions, these may be found:

    • in his Will; 
    • in a separate letter in a safety deposit box or personal papers;
    • with his clergy; or,
    • with a pre-arranged funeral plan which may be on file with a mortuary or the Memorial Society of Hawaii.

Hawaii law (H.R.S. 560:3-701) provides that the person named as Personal Representative in a Will may carry out the written instructions of the decedent relating to the disposition of his body, funeral, and burial arrangements.  Absent a Will (and even in spite of a Will, though Hawaii law is unclear on this point) the surviving spouse has the decision-making authority. If there is no surviving spouse, then the decision falls upon the next of kin which include adult children, or if there are none, either parent.  Absent children or parents, the decision rests with adult siblings.  (H.R.S. 327-2).

2.   DEATH CEREMONIES.  Death ceremonies are important in the healing process of the survivors.  If planned carefully, the death ceremony can meet important social and emotional needs of the survivors, reestablish relationships, affirm values, provide emotional support for the family, and help significantly in the healing process.  There are basically three types of death ceremonies:

    • Funeral Service.  This is a service with the body present (either in an open or closed casket).
    • Memorial Service.  This is a service with the body not present.
    • Commitment Service.  His is a brief optional service held at the graveside or in a chapel of a crematory.  It may be in addition to the funeral or memorial service. 
3.   ARRANGING FOR THE CEREMONY.  Funeral and memorial services are generally planned by the family sitting with their clergyman, if they have one, or funeral director and reminiscing about the decedent's life, ideals, goals, plans, and affections.  The actual ceremony may take many different forms since people experience grief in different ways and are comfortable with different customs.  The service is usually held two or three days after the death and if possible on a weekend or evening so that more people can attend.  It may include:  music, singing, prayers, biographical remarks, reminiscences, pictures, silence, readings of poetry, scripture and un-programmed contributions.  Often the service will be followed by a time of fellowship and refreshments.  It is traditional in Hawaii for those attending the service to bring a card and a monetary contribution.

4.   COST OF A FUNERAL.  The average cost of a funeral and burial in Hawaii is approximately $6,000.00.  If the decedent was a veteran, the cost would be about $3,000.00.  Funeral directors are required by law to provide price information upon request (either in person or over the telephone).  The funeral director will give you an itemized list of services and merchandise.

5.   OPTIONS AVAILABLE.  The various options available to you in the order of cost are:
    • Immediate Gift to the Medical School Followed by Memorial Service.  This avoids virtually all costs.  If the University of Hawaii School of Medicine accepts the body, it will pay for the pickup service on Oahu.  Advance arrangements for body donation must be made with the medical school.  They will send you a form to complete and provide the donor with a donor card to carry in his or her wallet.  Of course, the donor's physician and family should be told in advance.  Upon death, the University of Hawaii School of Medicine should be called to determine if they will accept the body.  Arrangements can be made with the medical school to return the ashes to the family within two years or earlier. 
    • Immediate Cremation, Followed by a Memorial Service.  If cremation is done within 30 hours of death, there is no need for the body to be embalmed.  The average cost of a basic cremation service in Hawaii which includes picking up the body securing the necessary permits, providing a suitable container for the body delivery to the crematory, and providing a standard container for the cremains, is approximately $1,000.00.  there are additional charges if the mortuary is to dispose of the cremains, if embalming is requested, or if chapel services are provided. 
    • Immediate Burial, followed by Memorial Service.  
    • Funeral Service with Body Present, Followed by Removal to Medical School. 
    • Funeral Service with Body Present, Followed by Cremation. 
    • Funeral Service with Body Present, Followed by Burial.

All but (a) and (b) above generally include the services of a funeral director.

6.   CREMATION.  Approximately twelve percent (12%) of the bodies in the United States are cremated.  The ashes are usually returned to the family or disposed of by the crematory as desired.  The ashes may be stored indefinitely.  They are clean, white and sanitary.  Some families prefer to scatter the ashes in a meaningful place such as a favorite garden or at sea.  First make sure that the ashes are pulverized to avoid visible bone fragments.  This can be done by request at the crematory.  Some families have the ashes placed in a container, the ashes take up about six inches square.  They can be shipped by mail anywhere in the world.  Hawaii does not have any law prohibiting the scattering of the ashes.   Some states do have laws prohibiting this and other states require a permit.

7.   MEMORIAL SOCIETIES.  The Memorial Society of Hawaii is a non-profit organization.  The cost to join is nominal and it helps its members obtain dignified and appropriate funeral arrangements at a reasonable cost through advanced planning.   They act in an advisory capacity and have contracts with various funeral directors for discounted services for their members.  Most of the work is done by unpaid volunteers.  They inquire around, compare services and prices, and provide this information to their members.  They do not provide funeral services , cremation services, or offer prepayment plans.

8.   PAYMENT TO FUNERAL DIRECTOR.  Often funeral directors want to get paid one-half or more for their services in advance. You cannot use the decedent's cash to do this and often a family member must come forward to provide these funds. Hawaii law (H.R.S. 560:3-805) provides that reasonable funeral expenses will be paid prior to unsecured debts and claims but after the cost and expense of administration. Therefore, if a person obligates himself to pay for funeral expenses, and the estate is not sufficient to first pay the cost and expenses of administration (filing fees, publication costs, appraisals, personal representative's and attorney's fees) then he may not get reimbursed for the funeral expenses. In any event, a person assisting with the funeral expenses should not do so as a volunteer. This may affect his ability to get reimbursement. If assisting with the payment of funeral expenses, the person should get the nominated personal representative's written authority. Hawaii law (H.R.S. 560:3-701) provides that acts done by the personal representative relate back to the date of death.

ANATOMICAL GIFTS
 

1.   HAWAII LAW.  The Hawaii law on anatomical gifts is set out at H.R.S. 327. In summary, any competent person 18 years of age or older may give all or any part of his body, upon death, to any hospital, physician or medical school for medical or dental education, research, or transplantation. The gift may also be given to any specified individual for transplantation. The gift may be specified either in a Will or separate document (including a card to be carried on the person) signed by the donor in the presence of two witnesses or notarized. A uniform donor card may be obtained from the Hawaii Lions Eye Bank and Makana Foundation, P.O. box 2783, Honolulu, Hawaii 96803 (536-7416). Absent contrary indications by the decedent, the following named persons, in the following order of priority, may give all or any part of the decedent's body for the purposes above stated:

    • the spouse;
    • an adult son or daughter;
    • either parent;
    • an adult brother or sister; and,
    • a guardian of the person of the decedent.

 If the donee (hospital, physician, or medical school) has actual notice of contrary indications by the decedent or that a gift by a member of one of the above listed classes is opposed by a member of the same or prior class, the donee is prohibited by law from accepting the gift.

2.   WHAT MAY BE GIVEN.  The entire body or any part of the body may be given to the medical school for training future doctors and dentists. It may be given at death or after the funeral provided that the body has been embalmed according to specific instructions from the medical school. The medical school will, if requested, return the ashes to the family after they have completed their use of the body. Corneas from eyes are acceptable for transplantation regardless of the age of the donor at time of death. Other organs which are useful include: eardrums and ear bones, kidneys, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, pituitary glands, skin, blood, and brain tissue. Aside from organs, the decedent's glasses can be left to New Eyes for the Needy.

3.   COSTS.  There is no cost for organ donation. The hospital assumes the cost from the time of death until removal of the organ. Unless the entire body is given, the family is then responsible for the disposition of the balance of the body.
 
IMMEDIATE CASH NEEDS

Sources of immediate cash may include the following: 
 
1.   JOINT BANK ACCOUNT.  The surviving joint tenant of a joint bank account has immediate access to the entire mount in that account. Prior to the repeal of the Hawaii Inheritance Tax law in June 1984, one-half of the joint bank account was frozen until an inheritance tax waiver was presented to the bank. That is no longer the case.
  
2.   DECEDENTS EMPLOYER.  You should check with the decedent's employer to determine if there is any money available for unpaid wages, accumulated vacation pay, or sick time. There may also be group insurance benefits and pension benefits available. The employer may also have survivor's benefits, and sometimes funeral expenses are covered by insurance with the employer. If occupational factors were involved in the death, possibly worker's compensation will be payable.
  
3.   LIFE INSURANCE.  Lump sum death benefits may be obtained rather quickly from the life insurance company. You should check other sources of life insurance also, such as the automobile club, credit card insurance or insurance held with credit unions, banks, unions, fraternal orders or other associations to which the deceased may have belonged.
  
4.   CREDIT INSURANCE.  You should check to see whether installment purchases or other credit purchases, such as for appliances, automobile, or furniture are covered by credit insurance. Loans from the credit union are often covered by insurance. Such insurance would pay off the debt and thereby eliminate the need for future monthly payments.  

5.   SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.  The surviving spouse, if living with a decedent who is covered by social security at the time of death, is entitled to a $255 lump sum death benefit. If the surviving spouse was not living with the decedent at the time of death, he or she is entitled to the lump sum death benefit only if he or she was receiving a monthly benefit or was eligible to receive a monthly benefit on the deceased's record during the month of death. If there is no surviving spouse, then a child who is eligible for social security monthly benefits on the deceased's record during the month of death is entitled to the lump sum death benefit. 

Monthly income benefits are available to:
 
    • spouse caring for a child who is under age 16 or who is disabled before age 22;
    • disabled widow, widower or divorced spouse at age 50;
    • widow, widower or divorced spouse at age 65;
    • dependent parents; and
    • unmarried children under age 18 who are disabled before age 22. 
The Social Security Office is located on the first floor of the Federal Building, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, Hawaii (Phone: 541-1010). Application for benefits can be made over the telephone. It is, therefore, not necessary to personally go to the social security office. Benefits are not paid retroactively. You should, therefore, apply as soon as you become eligible. It would be helpful to obtain and review the most recent publication of the "Social Security Handbook' published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration. 
 
6.   VETERANS BENEFITS.  Where the death is due to a service connected disability, the VA will provide a $1,100 burial allowance. There may also be a monthly income benefit. If the death is in a VA facility, the Veterans Administration provides $300 plus transportation costs. If the veteran is receiving or eligible for VA compensation or pension benefits, the Veterans Administration will provide a $300 burial and funeral expense benefit. A veteran can be buried in a national cemetery and receive a government headstone or marker for a grave in a government or other cemetery. In lieu of burial in a government cemetery, the Veterans Administration will provide a $150 plot allowance. An allowance will also be made toward the purchase of a marker in lieu of a government headstone. The Veterans Administration Office is located in Tripler AMC, 459 Patterson Road, E-Wing, 1st Floor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819-1522 Phone (800) 827-1000) A website reference to the Honolulu Regional Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs is:  http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?ID=297.  
 
7.   CREDIT UNIONS. Many credit unions pay a death benefit up to a certain amount (i.e. $1,000 or $2,000) based on the amount on deposit, the age of the decedent at the time he made the deposit, or his age at the time of death. Money borrowed from the credit union may also be covered by insurance.  

PROTECTING PROPERTY

            Immediate action should be taken to safeguard and protect the decedent's personal and real property. The personal representative's authority to safeguard assets relates back to the date of death (H.R.S. 560:3-701). He should take common sense steps to protect valuable or perishable property and should not wait until he has been officially appointed by the probate court to take appropriate action. Appropriate action may include: 
 

1.   PROTECT HOME CONTENTS DURING FUNERAL.
Have someone (perhaps a friend or neighbor) stay at the decedent's home during the funeral.  Relatives should consider this also. If high value assets are in the home, consider hiring a guard during the funeral.
  
2.   PROTECT HOME CONTENTS.  If the decedent resided alone, the door locks should be changed and valuables such as jewelry and silver should be moved to a safe location (possibly the home of a close relative).

3.   CEASE HOME DELIVERIES.  If decedent resided alone, home deliveries (such as newspapers or magazines) should be terminated and the post office should be notified to forward all mail to the person who will serve as personal representative, or held by the post office until a personal representative has been appointed by the court. 
 
4.   INVENTORY.  It would be advisable to make an immediate inventory of all tangible personal property located in the house and take precautions to avoid pilferage by relatives, friends, and employees.  

5.   CASUALTY AND LIABILITY INSURANCE.  Existing casualty and liability insurance policies should be carefully reviewed and such policies as are necessary to protect all assets should be taken out. Check to make sure that the property is insured to its full value and that a rider is attached to cover all persons with insurable interests including the personal representative, any testamentary trustee, and all heirs and beneficiaries of the estate. 
 
6.   SAFEGUARD PAPERS.  All of the decedent's papers should be assembled and safeguarded until the attorney has had an opportunity to review them and pick out those which should be saved, such papers may include:  
    • Last Will and Testament  
    • all Trust Agreements;  
    • title to burial plot;  
    • birth certificate;  
    • naturalization and adoption papers; 
    • marriage certificate;  
    • divorce papers;  
    • social security card;  
    • safety deposit box number (and key);  
    • checkbooks;  
    • savings account passbooks;  
    • bank statements;  
    • records of investments;  
    • financial statements;  
    • stock and bond certificates;  
    • deeds;  
    • title policies;  
    • leases;  
    • appraisals;  
    • mortgage papers;  
    • contracts;  
    • insurance policies;  
    • automobile title and registration, 
    • veterans papers;  
    • unpaid bills;  
    • credit cards;  
    • income and gift tax returns; and,  
    • all other papers of a "business nature".  
7.   DECEDENT'S BUSINESS.  If the decedent was sole owner of a corporation or operated a sole proprietorship, immediate action should be taken to arrange for the temporary management of the business and to make cash available for employees' salaries and other current expenses. This may require the appointment of a special administrator.  
 
8.   MORTGAGE PAYMENTS.  The Personal Representative should keep mortgage payments current, even though a formal claim has not been filed, as part of his duty to protect and preserve the estate assets. The Personal Representative should also satisfy lump sum mortgages when due to prevent foreclosure or loss to the estate. The final liability for mortgage indebtedness may fall upon one or more of the beneficiaries during the settlement of the estate. Under the Hawaii non-exoneration statute (H.R.S. 560:2-609), the beneficiary of real property, unless the Will provides otherwise, takes it subject to any mortgages.  

9.   SOCIAL SECURITY.  Any Social Security check made payable to the decedent for the month in which the decedent died is not an asset of the estate or of the surviving spouse and must be returned. The Social Security check is issued for the prior month (i.e., the check for May is issued in June), and there is no proration for part of a month. For example, if the decedent died on May 25, the check issued in June, for the month of May, must be returned.
  
10.   VULTURES.  Watch out for vultures. It is not uncommon for con-artists to pray upon the survivors, particularly widows.
 
One con is to try to collect a nonexistent debt. 

Another is to deliver merchandise that was never ordered.

Still another is to inform the survivor that final premiums on a nonexistent life insurance policy must be paid before the proceeds can be collected. This same ploy is used for other valuable assets with the claim that a final payment needs to be made before the asset can be delivered. 

Survivors that are inexperienced with investments are often prime prospects for bad investments. Even reputable investment firms will sometimes change stock portfolios merely to obtain commissions. 

The best advice is to be careful, go slow and consult experienced members of the family or other trusted advisors before proceeding.
 
OBTAIN DEATH CERTIFICATE

The Funeral Director will generally order several certified copies of the Death Certificate as a matter of routine.  It is advisable, however, to initially order at least a dozen certified copies of the Death Certificate.  Xeroxed copies will not do.  They may be needed for  collecting life insurance proceeds, social security, veterans benefits, transferring securities, obtaining access to the safe deposit box, obtaining the appointment of a Special Administrator, opening a probate administration, re-registering an automobile and for many other purposes.  Certified copies of the Death Certificate may be obtained by the mortuary or ordered directly from the Hawaii Department of Health, P.O. Box 3378, Honolulu, Hawaii 96801, (548-5818).
 
LOCATE WILL

If the decedent left a Will, it can usually be located either: (1) in his personal or business safe deposit box; (2) with the attorney that drafted it; or, (3) with the person nominated to serve as the Personal Representative in the Will.   
 
A.   SAFE DEPOSIT BOX.  Access to the safe deposit box in order to inventory the contents and remove the Will can be obtained by calling the bank and making an appointment to meet a bank officer at the safe deposit box department. The bank is required by law (H.R.S. 560:2-902) to deliver the will to a person able to secure its probate, the bank may release other assets from the box such as a deed to a burial plot or burial instructions and insurance policies on the decedent's life (to named beneficiaries). The bank will probably not release other assets until a Personal Representative or Special Administrator (with specific power to access the safe deposit box) is appointed.
  
If an individual has a personal safe deposit box, it will usually be at one of the banks where he maintains a savings or checking account. The location may also be obtained by searching for the key among his personal effects or, as a last resort, by contacting the main branches of the various banks and asking them to also check their branches.  
 
B.   ATTORNEY.  If a copy of the will can be found, the name of the attorney that drafted it will often be found printed somewhere on the Will (usually on the blue-back which is attached to the Will). If the attorney's name cannot be found stamped on the Will, you should check the names of the witnesses. Often the attorney will serve as a witness to the Will. The attorney's name may also be found by going through the decedent's address book. The final method may be to put a written request in each law firm and individual attorney court jacket at the Circuit Court, 777 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, Hawaii.  
 
C.   PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE.  If a corporate Personal Representative is nominated in the Will, the original Will will probably be held for safekeeping by them. The corporations presently qualified to serve as Personal Representative in Hawaii are:  First Hawaiian Bank, Pacific Century Trust and Central Pacific Bank. 
 
D.   DUTY TO DELIVER.  Any person having custody of the Will is required by law (H.R.S. 560:2-902) to deliver it with reasonable promptness to a person who is able to secure its probate, or if none is known, to the probate court. A person who willfully fails to deliver the Will is liable to any person for damages caused to the person by such failure to deliver. A person is guilty of a class C felony if, with intent to defraud, he destroys, removes, or conceals any Will, Codicil or other testamentary instrument (H.R.S. 708-858). 
 
INVENTORY ASSETS

Information regarding assets owned by the decedent must be obtained in order that preliminary decisions may be intelligently made. Such decisions include: (i) determining whether or not there is a need for probate; (ii) if there is a need for probate, which level of probate is appropriate (i.e., small estates, informal or supervised); (iii) determining whether or not there will be an estate tax; and, (iv) whether immediate action needs to be taken to protect certain assets which may require the appointment of a Special Administrator prior to the appointment of a Personal Representative.

This information, as well as other relevant information, is most efficiently obtained by use of an information checklist. An excellent start for such a checklist is the Federal Estate Tax Return (Form 706). This Form can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service in the Federal building. Information about the decedent's assets can usually be obtained by examining records found in his or her safe deposit box and personal papers including bank books, checking account statements, brokerage account statements and income tax returns.
 
A.   EXAMINE DOCUMENTS.  It is important to confirm the exact status of title to assets by examining the deeds, stock certificates, etc. You should never rely on the memory of family members as to how property is titled. It would be wise to obtain a title report on all parcels of real property. This can be done by calling a title company and requesting a preliminary title report. 
 
B.   INCOME TAX RETURNS.  The various schedules to the decedent's income tax returns will let you know about stocks, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, businesses, partnership interests, trust interests, and income producing real property.

C.   REAL PROPERTY.  Information about real property owned by the decedent can be obtained by having a title company conduct a property search.
  
D.   MAIL.  Another source of information is the decedent's mail. By watching his mail, statements will be received over time which should eventually identify most all of his property.

Downtown Office

Pacific Guardian Center
733 Bishop Street
Suite 2357
Honolulu, HI 96813

Kahala Office

Kahala
1215 Hunakai St
Suite 209
Honolulu, HI 96816

Leeward Office

Newton Square
98-1247 Kaahumanu Street
Suite 221
Aiea, HI 96701

Windward Office

Kailua
1247 Kailua Road
Suite D
Kailua, HI 96734