Today’s Action Line Law Day Topic: Estate planning & elder law

Action Line’s Law Week has begun. During Law Week between April 27 and May 1, the Young Lawyers’ Division of the Hawaii State bar Association sponsors the Action Line program. You can call Action Line to receive free legal information from practicing Hawaii attorneys.


The Action Line topics are themed by day. Today’s topic is estate planning and elder law; the rest of the week’s agenda is: employment law and workers’ compensation on Thursday April 30; and landlord/tenants on Friday May 1.


This morning, Scott Suzuki, Esq., previewed some of the common topics regarding elder law. He told us about some common legal documents that seniors might want to have.


“Almost everyone who has capacity and is over the age of 18 should consider making an Advance Health Care Directive. Seniors might also want to discuss with their care providers about a newer document called a POLST, which stands for Providers Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. Both the healthcare directive and the POLST will help with difficult health care decisions. It would also be good to look into a power of attorney. There are some updated rules concerning powers of attorney, so it would be good for people to update the ones they have,” says Suzuki.


Another frequently asked question is, What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? “The easy way to remember the difference between these two government programs is that Medicare ends with an “e.” Elderly people who were employed are entitled to Medicare. Medicaid ends with a “d.” People who are disabled or destitute may depend on Medicaid. Medicaid is means-tested, so there are complicated income and asset tests to determine eligibility. One major difference important for seniors to know is that Medicare pays for very limited long-term care benefits,” explains Suzuki.


Finally, Suzuki defines the difference between a will and a trust. “A will is a document that directs how an individual’s estate should be distributed after that individual dies. In many cases, a will has to go through probate, which is a court process to determine the validity of a will and to officially appoint someone called a “personal representative” to administer the estate. A trust, on the other hand, is a legal agreement between an owner of property and a person called a trustee who manages that property for a beneficiary. A trust does not need to go through probate and could be effective both during an individual’s lifetime and after the individual dies.”


Action Line’s Law Week leads up to Law Day on May 2. That’s when The Young Lawyers’ Division is sponsoring several legal clinics throughout Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai, and Maui. During these clinics, individuals can show up and ask for legal information from practicing Hawaii attorneys, similar to Action Lines. However, the Law Day clinics will not be tailored to specific areas of law.  Law Day clinics will bet set up at:



  • Don Quijote – Kaheka
  • Don Quiote – Pearl City
  • Don Quijote – Waipahu
  • Nanakuli Sack N Save
  • Windward Mall Shopping Center
  • Waianae Mall

Hawaii Island

  • KTA Superstore – Kona
  • Puainako Town Center – Hilo


  • Kukui Grove Mall


  • Maui Mall


Attorneys for both programs cannot provide legal advice, such as recommendations on what to do, but individuals will be provided legal information that includes referrals to resources or explanations of certain legal processes, such as court procedures. The number to call between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. is 591-0222.


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