2017 Annual Newsletter

Dear Valued Client,

As a reflection of our continued dedication to you, we send you this revised newsletter in order to clarify parts of our initial 2017 newsletter.  We value accuracy and understand the value in being meticulous in our efforts on your behalf. Please replace the previous newsletter with this revised newsletter.  We sincerely appreciate your patience with our office and look forward to continuing our growth together in this estate planning journey.

CONTINUITY OF OUR PRACTICE: THE SUCCESSION PLAN

We take our professional responsibility to each and every one of our clients seriously. Part of that professional responsibility is to be here for you and to meet your long-term needs. Losing a doctor, dentist, or accountant due to retirement or death is difficult. It is often just as difficult for clients to find out their lawyer is no longer practicing law at a time of need. From something as simple as needing a copy of your estate plan when you cannot locate your documents, to discussing changes in your life that may affect your estate plan, it can be very distressing to learn that you now have to look for a new lawyer that you can entrust with your personal matters.

That is why I am happy to announce that Monica Yempuku, who has been with our firm for over eleven years, and is now in her third year of law school, will be joining us as an attorney upon graduation, and she will be serving as our next generation to serve your next generation.

SUMMER SPECIAL ON POWERS OF ATTORNEY FOR YOUR CHILDREN HEADING OFF TO COLLEGE

For the past three years we have run a special on discounted Powers of Attorney for those of you who have children who are heading off to college. We would like to offer that special to you again this summer. From June through August, we will prepare an Advance Health-Care Directive and a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney for your children at the discounted fee of $395 (plus general excise tax). This is a savings of $1,305.

If you are wondering whether or not your child needs powers of attorney, you should know that once your child reaches the age of majority, which is eighteen in most states, you, as a parent, are no longer entitled to see your child’s medical and financial records, nor are you able to make decisions on your child’s behalf. This is because once your child reaches the age of eighteen, the law classifies him or her as an adult with legal rights to privacy and to govern his or her own life. If the unspeakable does happen, and you receive a call informing you that your child is in the hospital unconscious, in trouble, or in need of your help, a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health-Care Directive can make handling the crisis easier.

ENCOURAGING THE CONVERSATION

In the process of estate planning, lawyers tend to put each client through a bleaching process. Each client comes in with personal intentions, but when the lawyers draft the documents, they tend to focus on the legal aspects of the estate plan, leaving their clients’ intentions out.

This can prove challenging for your beneficiaries and trustees when they seek to understand what you wanted to accomplish. In order to make sure your intentions are honored, our office offers three booklets:

(1) My Heartfelt Advance Care Plan.  An Advance Health-Care Directive makes up an essential part of your estate plan.  In the Advance Health-Care Directive, there is a section which allows you to make your End-of-Life decision. The form presents itself as a multiple-choice question: whether to prolong your life with medical care, or not. While at first glance this appears to be a simple question, it is anything but simple. To assist you with making this decision, we have prepared a booklet for you. The booklet goes into much greater detail as to what quality of life means to you. Reaching this understanding allows you to engage in conversations with those who will be involved in making medical decisions for you, and it allows for your choices to be honored and respected.

(2) My Heartfelt Personal Property Memorandum. We created this legally-binding booklet so that our clients can take their time to specify who they would like to leave their personal keepsakes to, as well as pass down the story behind each keepsake, such as, why they kept it, what it meant to them, and what they hope their beneficiaries will do with it.

(3) My Heartfelt Will. The late author W. Hodding Carter II once said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other wings.” This booklet allows you to provide your beneficiaries and fiduciaries with your personal story (your “roots”), as well as your thoughts about how you see things going (your “wings”).  And, My Heartfelt Will also serves as an organizer so you can let your trustee(s) know where you keep your important documents.

THE HEARTFELT LEGACY FOUNDATION IS NOW ONLINE

Thanks to the help of our winter intern, Jeremy Butterfield, the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation website is now up and running. Our website is designed to provide helpful information regarding special needs planning and Advance Care Planning. We offer book and video recommendations and materials that we think might be useful to you. We also have an upcoming events calendar. Although we have no specific dates set yet, we are hoping to put on another special needs presentation featuring nationally-recognized special needs attorney Theresa Varnet sometime next year. Please check the website, periodically for more information, as we will be posting the date and location once the details are set.  Our website is heartfeltlegacyfoundation.com.

The Heartfelt Legacy Foundation is also looking forward to coordinating an effort among medical professionals, lawyers, financial planners, and other community leaders to implement an integrated process about quality of life at End-of-Life that helps families make, honor, and respect End-of-Life choices. Rather than the usual experience of checking a box as part of a legal document, this process focuses on guiding families in determining what quality of life means for each of them and helping them communicate their choices to loved ones and medical professionals so that their choices are honored and respected. Studies evaluating this type of process show significant positive results in that over ninety percent of individuals make End-of-Life decisions, and well over ninety percent of those decisions are honored and respected (as opposed to about thirty percent of individuals making an End-of-Life decision in communities that do not offer this process, with less than ten percent of those choices being honored and respected). Guilt, anxiety, and depression are greatly reduced in communities that offer this process.

To assist people with making End-of-Life decisions, the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation has created the Heartfelt Advance Care Plan, which is a booklet that helps you determine what End-of-Life means to you. We provide this booklet to each of our clients, and we now have it available online through the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation website. The booklet is a fillable PDF, which you can download or print. 

We would like to ask your assistance in helping us to fund future events, such as the Theresa Varnet Special Needs Presentation. We have included a donation form with this newsletter. If you would like to make a donation to the Heartfelt Legacy Foundation, it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the IRS, to which your contributions can be tax-deductible.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PERIODIC REVIEWS

Periodic reviews are an essential part of estate planning as everything in life changes: laws, policies, our intentions, and even family relationships. Reviewing your estate plan from time to time gives us the opportunity to accommodate these changes. My responsibility as your attorney is to help you communicate your intentions clearly at a time when you can no longer speak for yourself. We want to make sure that there are no misunderstandings. That is why we want to use every means of communication possible to clearly pass on your intentions. This includes: (1) preparing the legal documents, such as a trust and powers of attorney; (2) providing each of our clients with our My Heartfelt Will, a booklet where you can write down your intentions in your own words; and (3) by meeting together with your family (and where appropriate, with your professional advisors) to help relay your clear intentions and instructions.

Reviewing your estate plan not only allows us to gain a deeper understanding of your intentions so that we can prepare a more meaningful plan for you, it allows us to get organized. So often we hear about those cases when a parent passes away and their children have no idea what their parent owned, much less where important documents are located.  Reviewing your estate plan also allows us to double-check the funding of your trust, check on the brokerage and bank account ownership records, and review beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

We also recommend coming in for a review if you have not yet updated your Durable Power of Attorney. In April 2014, the Hawaii Statutory Power of Attorney was signed into law as a response to the fraud surrounding the “older powers of attorney,” which many banks and financial institutions were no longer accepting. Under this new law, all financial institutions must accept this new Statutory Power of Attorney. If you have not yet updated your Durable Powers of Attorney, we encourage you to contact our office so that we can assist you in making this new Statutory Durable Power of Attorney.

SCAM ALERT

We have recently been informed about some local “scams,” and we wanted to pass on the warnings to you as follows:

Phony IRS Calls. If someone calls you telling you they are with the IRS and that you owe them money, hang up. The IRS will not call taxpayers to tell them they owe money. These individuals are brazen in their efforts, and even threaten to imprison you if you hang up the phone. Hang up anyway. If you are at all concerned about tax liability, call your accountant to double-check that are you current with your taxes.

Letters Demanding Payment to Release Your Deeds to You. Companies are writing letters to Hawaii residents who recently transferred title of their property, particularly to trust. These letters demand payment from you and state that they will then release your deed to you. Do not pay these companies. The Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances has your recorded deed, and we will be the one who will provide you a copy of your recorded deed.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

One of our goals at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim is to continue to grow and develop, both individually and professionally as an estate planning law firm. This year our office will be taking a course called Non-Violent Communication, which teaches us to communicate by expressing our feelings, needs, and requests. The skills that we look forward to developing in this course will allow us to have more meaningful relationships at home, in the office, and with each of our clients. Our mission includes helping each and every client make meaningful estate planning decisions, and helping them communicate their wishes and choices clearly to their loved ones so that their choices will be honored and respected. Since our goal is to help communicate our clients’ wishes at a time when they can no longer speak for themselves, it is imperative that we continue to develop and hone our own personal communication skills.

Also, the legal profession is often criticized for lacking character. Because of this, we at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Yim take this very seriously. We subscribe to a monthly journal from Strata Leadership. Each month the journal focuses on a specific quality, with the sole purpose of encouraging companies to build character within their organizations.

GETTING TO KNOW OUR STAFF

Here at our firm, we pride ourselves on the integrative support you will receive from us. Our goal is to provide top-notch service to you, not only in memorializing your intentions through your estate plan, but also by taking care of your needs as they come up. This is who we are:

Monica Yempuku – Monica has been with our firm for over eleven years. She handles the Estate Administration side of our practice as well as managing the day-to-day operations. She is in her third year of law school and will graduate in the summer of 2018.

Britta Lau – Britta is our office manager. She is committed to providing clear communication and guidance through the Estate Planning process. To provide the most competent service, she will carefully listen to you to make sure that your specific needs are being met. Britta recently married Wilson Lau, whom she met canoe paddling.  She also coaches girls’ varsity soccer during the winter.

Jennifer Morgado – Jennifer is in training to become our newest paralegal. She assists our other paralegals in gathering information and preparing files. She also helps to maintain our newly designed Heartfelt Legacy Foundation website.

Stacie Kauila – Stacie is in charge of our “Going Green” process. She is in charge of scanning all our physical files into our computer system. You are most likely speaking to her when you call our office. She is always happy to assist with answering questions and forwarding documents to financial planners or financial institutions.

Mahalo!

Please allow us to express our gratitude to you for allowing us to assist you with your estate planning needs. As a continued service to you, we hope you find the information informative. We encourage you to continue meeting with us periodically to review your plan. We hope to see you soon.

Very Truly Yours,

Stephen B. Yim and Staff