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Hawaii Wills Laws

Most of our preconceived notions about what a last will and testament can do come from books, movies, or television, and might not always be accurate. Maybe you’re holding out hope some distant relative will bequeath you a financial windfall, or you're looking to inherit the family business. So how do wills in the Aloha State actually work? And who can pass on what, and to whom? This is a quick introduction to wills laws in Hawaii.

Wills, Generally

A will is a legal document that details what exactly should happen to an individual's property after he or she dies. A person's will could state that her beach house should go to her niece, or that her library of pirate books be donated to the local library. And state wills laws can differ when it comes to oral or handwritten wills. For example, Hawaii does not recognize oral wills, but may honor a handwritten testament if the signature and significant portions of the will are in the testator’s handwriting.

Wills Laws in Hawaii

Hawaii's wills statutes are listed below.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes 560-1, et seq.: Uniform Probate Code

Age of Testator

18 years or older and of sound mind

Number of Witnesses

Signed by at least two individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after the individual witnessed either the signing of the will or the testator's acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of will.

Nuncupative (Oral Wills)

Not recognized

Holographic Wills

A will that does not comply with subsection (a) is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and material portions of document are in the testator's handwriting.

Understanding Wills

The “legalese” in Hawaii estate planning laws can sound confusing to a layperson. For example, “probate” refers to the process of implementing a will or otherwise administering a person’s “estate,” or all of their real and personal property after they pass away. The “testator” is the person whose after-death wishes are explained in the will. A “nuncupative” will is an oral, spoken, or otherwise unwritten will (not legally recognized in Hawaii), and a “holographic” will is handwritten, and is generally subject to more scrutiny than a typed or printed will.

Related Resources for Wills Laws in Hawaii

State wills laws can be confusing, and can make difficult to create a will that does exactly what you want. You can consult with an experienced Hawaii wills attorney if you would like legal help with a wills matter. And FindLaw’s section on Wills can provide you with further reading and resources on this topic, including information on creating and changing a will.

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