Charting a Course for Family Security

Twelve Standards

Selecting Your Attorney

            Because your estate plan encompasses the distribution of the assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating in a manner designed to protect your estate for your family, it pays to do it right and go to a specialist.  When interviewing a prospective estate planning attorney, you may wish to ask some or all of the following questions.  Under each question, we have given our answer.
 1.   Are you a member of the American College of Trust & Estate Council?
Yes.  In Hawaii , only 22 attorneys are ACTEC Fellows from over 5000 Hawaii attorneys.  This represents less than 0.5% of Hawaii 's attorneys.  Please note, a lawyer cannot apply for membership in the College.  Fellows are selected on the basis of professional reputation and ability in the fields of trusts and estates and on the basis of having made substantial contributions to these fields through lecturing, writing, teaching and bar activities.  In addition, only attorneys with a minimum of 10 years of specialization in estate planning are allowed into ACTEC!
 2.   Do you provide access to The Encyclopedia of 5000 Q & A on Estate Planning   topics?
Yes.  This is a FREE benefit to our clients.  For more information, see, click on "FAQ", then on "Clients Only".  Once you become a client, you will receive the necessary User Name ID and Password that will allow you access to the Encyclopedia -- to START LEARNING!  The Encyclopedia even has a search capability!  This service should help you answer just about any question you may have about estate and financial planning, in short, easy to understand language.
3.   Do you include Legacy Planning and Elder-Protection Planning as part of an Estate Plan?
Yes.  Legacy Planning is a powerful way to pass your family history and values onto the next generation; and, Elder-Protection Planning gives you options which enable you to receive long term care in your own home for as long as possible.
4.   What percentage of your business focuses on Estate Planning?
ALL of our business (i.e. 100%!!) focuses on Estate Planning.  We don't try to "muddy the waters" or get distracted with other duties such as managing investments or selling financial products.  We can refer you to some excellent financial planners so there is no conflict of interest.  As part of our estate planning, we also offer probate and post-death trust administration services.
5.   Estate Planning is complex.  How can you help me understand it?
We take a complex subject and break it down into terms and concepts you can easily understand --even if you don't have a law degree.  We welcome all questions and are willing to spend the time you need to understand your estate planning in as much depth as you wish.  We even provide you with free telephone consultations if questions later arise.  We also provide additional sources to help educate you on estate planning as you will see from reading the following paragraph (6).
6.   What do you provide so that I can learn more about Trusts, Estate Planning and probate?
You may get information directly off our website, access our 5000 Q&A Encyclopedia, listen to recorded messages on topics of interests, take one of our seminars, read our regular e-mail newsletter, or even listen to our weekly (Saturday afternoon, AM650) radio program.  We believe education is the best policy.  We continually are improving our website to provide you with the best and most useful strategies, planning and education about trusts, estate planning and probate.  By educating you, we make our job easier--and you will be less likely to make mistakes in your choices.
7.   How many years experience does your firm have in Estate Planning?
Our attorneys have over 45 years of experience specializing in estate planning, probate and trust administration.  Our attorneys are trained to assure that each estate plan is kept to the highest standards of quality.
8.   How many Trusts has your firm done?  How many in the past 10 years?
Our attorneys have designed over 5000 estate plans/trusts, of which over 2000 were done in the past 10 years.  We are not an assembly line, but tailor each estate plan or trust to your specific needs since each situation is different.  Nevertheless, our numbers specifically indicate our expertise, experience, focus and direction.
9.   What positions have members of your firm held with professional associations?
We have held positions in the following: Hawaii State Bar Association:  President of the Probate and Estate Planning Section and President of the Tax Section;  Hawaii Estate Planning Council Member, Fellow of American College of Trust and Estate Council (ACTEC);  Mr. Rulon is a founding member of the International Association of Financial Planners of Hawaii.  Mr. Matsumoto is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association (Tax Law, Elder Law and Business Law Sections), additionally, he is a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA)  Thomas Rulon has authored or co-authored several books and a number of papers on estate planning, living trusts and probate, teaching numerous seminars, workshops, and classes.  Mr. Rulon has also held a number of civic and church duties, including serving on the board and former chairman of the Easter Seal Society of Hawaii, serving on the board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Hawaii, serving on both the National and Hawaii Board of the Christian Legal Society, serving on the board and being Vice Chairman of Hawaii Youth for Christ and being founder and volunteer lawyer for the Christian Legal Aid Clinic at the River of Life Mission.  John Matsumoto has served the community as a Board of Director for the Greater East Honolulu Community Association (GEHCA).  Mr. Matsumoto also is a volunteer and mentor for the University of Hawaii Business Plan Competition and High School Business Plan Competition, and has given seminars, workshops and classes on estate planning, living trusts and probate.
10.   How many locations do you have?  Do you make house calls?
We conveniently offer you an office in or near your neighborhood, since we have FOUR offices on Oahu…regardless if you live Downtown, in Kahala, or on the Windward or Leeward side of this Island.  PLUS, we will even make HOUSE CALLS if needed (which makes it easy for our elderly or immobile clients).
11. Will you give me a firm quote?  Are there add on costs?  I don't want any surprises!
While cost is important, it should NEVER be your sole determining factor.  Once we have met with you, we will quote you a FIRM, FIXED FEE you can rely on.  You will know the cost of your estate plan before deciding to proceed.  We will not SURPRISE you later.
12. If I have follow-up questions about my Estate Plan, do you charge for telephone calls?
NO.  We DON'T charge you for follow-up calls when you have questions about your estate plan.  We feel that is included in, and part of the services we provide to you.  We WANT you to fully understand your estate plan and feel comfortable and confident with it.

Downtown Office

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

Kahala Office

1215 Hunakai St
Suite 209
Honolulu, HI 96816

Leeward Office

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

Windward Office

1247 Kailua Road
Suite D
Kailua, HI 96734