Hawaii Probate and Estate Tax Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

The legal process by which property is transferred upon a person's death is called "probate." This court-supervised process involves collecting all of a deceased person's property into an estate. Next, the estate pays off debts and applicable taxes. The remaining estate is then distributed to the deceased's heirs. The probate process is state specific with each state implementing its own probate laws.

Several states, including Hawaii, have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) as their probate law. The UPC was created to streamline the probate process and to standardize it across all 50 states. However, only 16 states have adopted the UPC in full, while other states have adopted only parts of the code. This article highlights several main aspects of the probate process in Hawaii.

Probate in Hawaii

During the probate process the court will attempt to distribute the deceased's estate according to the will if the deceased dies testate (with a valid will). However, if the deceased dies intestate (without a valid will) then the deceased's property will be distributed according to the intestate laws of succession outlined in the charts below.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes section 560:2-102: Share of Spouse

What Does the Deceased's Surviving Spouse Receive?

The intestate share of a deceased's surviving spouse (or reciprocal beneficiary) is:

The entire estate if:

  • No descendant or parent of the deceased survives, or
  • All of the deceased's surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse

The first $200,000, plus 3/4th of any balance of the intestate estate if:

  • No descendant of the deceased survives the deceased, but a parent of the deceased survives the deceased

The first $150,000, plus ½ of any balance of the intestate estate if:

  • All of the deceased's surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has one or more surviving descendants who aren't descendants of the deceased

The first $100,000, plus ½ of any balance of the estate if:

  • One or more of the descendant's surviving descendants aren't descendants of the surviving spouse

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes section 560:2-103: Share of Heirs Other than the Surviving Spouse

What Do the Deceased's Heirs Other than the Surviving Spouse Receive?

Any part of the intestate estate that doesn't pass to the deceased's surviving spouse (or the entire estate if there isn't a surviving spouse) passes in the following order to the individual(s) who survive the deceased:
  • To the deceased's descendants
  • To the deceased's parents
  • To the descendants of the deceased's parents, and then
  • To the deceased's grandparents and to their descendants

Estate Tax

An estate tax is a tax that is imposed on property that is transferred to the heirs of a deceased person. The state of Hawaii does impose an estate tax on the death time transfer of the taxable estate of every Hawaiian resident and on every taxable estate located in Hawaii that is owned by a nonresident.

This estate tax is only imposed on the estate of people who die after January 25th, 2012. However, not all estates are required to pay the estate tax. Only estates that have a taxable value of $5,250,000 or more are required to pay Hawaii's estate tax.

Please note that the federal government also imposes an estate tax on some estates. For more information about the federal estate tax visit the IRS' website.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Hawaii's probate and estate tax laws contact a local estate planning lawyer or tax attorney.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.