Estate Planning: Have You Documented Your Wishes in Writing?

Do you have an estate plan? Do you know what will happen to your property when you pass away? What about your business? Other assets?

It’s Time to Start Estate Planning

Sadly, I’ve dealt with many adult children over the years who suffer because their parent’s wishes were not reduced to writing with estate planning. If you take time to document your wishes now, you will save your children and heirs a lot of grief. Family strife is too often the result of not having a specific estate plan. With a detailed estate plan, the pain and disagreement that can come with probate — or even strangers making decisions for you — can easily be avoided.

What’s in an Estate Plan?

Your estate plan can include everything from your personal items to your large assets. If you want to avoid creating dissension between your kids, reduce your wishes to writing. Let’s face it; parents are often the glue that holds the family together. When you’re gone, any issues between your kids will only escalate if they have to make decisions about your possessions. Sadly, I’ve witnessed discord between siblings far too many times. And why? Because their parents failed to plan.

Common Challenges with Estate Planning

I’m not an attorney, but I am a Realtor and have often represented beneficiaries who are upset, confused, and who can’t seem to agree about anything. Who gets mom’s wedding ring? Grandma’s koa rocker? The motorcycle that was dad’s pride and joy? When it comes to bigger assets, it can become even more complicated. Do we sell the house?  Should we keep it and rent it out? Disagreements over the selection of a Realtor, the price of a home, the timing of the sale, the distribution of household goods all become problematic. Complicated. Even worse, what if one of the siblings is living in the house? In Hawaii, this is a pretty common situation. Common and challenging.

So, what’s the answer?

Find an Estate Planner or Attorney

Get help. Hire an attorney or an estate planner. Your money will be well spent, and you will have peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in good order. Save your loved ones the headache (and the heartache) of making decisions on your behalf. You might just save some relationships in the process, too. Isn’t that reason enough to reduce your wishes to writing?


Cherie Tsukamoto is a BIC, R, ABR, CRB, CRS, GRI, SRES, MRP with Hawai'i Life. You can email her at [email protected].

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