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Firm Overview

The firm focuses on matters involving estate planning, probate and trust law, including related civil litigation, striving to provide the highest quality legal services to residents of Kauai, Hawaii, in a convenient location and for a reasonable price. Whether in the area of estate planning, administering a simple estate, or resolving a complex dispute, my goals are to assist people in learning about the law, exploring the available options in detail, selecting the course that will best serve their interests, and implementing that decision in a skilled and efficient manner.

The firm was established in August 2008, when I fulfilled a long-time dream of relocating to the lovely island of Kaua'i. I chose to work as a solo practitioner so that I could have the flexibility necessary to provide exceptional service for my clients (including in-home consultations, and flexible office hours), and the ability to maintain the highest standards of quality in all aspects of the practice.

Example cases

Working with a trust beneficiary to obtain the assets to which he was entitled, from a recalcitrant and procrastinating trustee/relative; working with an individual to obtain guardianship and conservatorship of her mentally incompetent parent, and to shield the parent's assets from a potential creditor; designing and implementing an estate plan for an individual who wanted to make substantial charitable gifts, and shield his assets (which consisted substantially of notes payable, retirement benefits and valuable personal property) from his children's potential creditors.

Main Office

Main
2970 Kele Street
Suite 205
Lihue  HI  96766

Phone
  • (808) 245-9991
Fax
  • (808) 977-8775

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?

Yes, the initial consultation (which typically lasts for ½ to 1 hour) is always free.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

I try to charge fixed, flat fees whenever possible, because I understand that it can be unnerving to have to agree to pay for something when you don't really know how much it will cost.

For estate planning, all work is done on a flat-fee basis. After an initial consultation, I will sometimes quote a fee for the planning process, which is generally between $300 and $1,000, depending on the complexity of the estate and the client's goals. (Very simple estate planning situations can be handled without a planning fee, for example, the preparation of a simple will and power of attorney only.) The planning fee covers all consultations, document review, correspondence, and other services that culminate in a detailed oral or written report of the client's current situation, relevant issues and concerns, and planning recommendations, often with the pros and cons of different options outlined. The report will also set forth the fees for completing document preparation and execution for the options discussed.

For preparation of a simple will, the cost is generally in the $500-750 range; more complex wills and trusts can range from $950 up. A complete revocable living trust-based estate plan for an individual is typically around $2,000; for a couple, around $3,000.

For other matters (e.g., probate administration, guardianship, some types of litigation), flat fees may be quoted after an initial consultation. By way of example, a simple, informal probate proceeding can often be completed for around $2,000.

Hourly Rates

For matters that cannot be charged on a flat-fee basis, my rate is $250 per hr. Paralegal services are billed at $90.00 per hr.

Office Information

Office Hours

Generally, 9 -5, M-F, but appointments can be scheduled at other times, if necessary.

Emergency After Hours

Yes

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

Estate planning and probate law provide an opportunity to use my skills in writing, analyzing complex laws and regulations, and 'number-crunching' to solve complex problems for people from all walks of life. It is satisfying to provide clients with different options and help them to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each, and ultimately decide upon and implement the solution that works best for them. Knowing that my work (whether in devising and implementing an estate plan, establishing a guardianship, or assisting survivors in administering the estate of a loved one) prevents conflict and stress at a very difficult time in people's lives (and sometimes, saves them lots of money) is very rewarding.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

The more clients understand about the issues that affect them, the easier it is to assist or represent them. I appreciate clients' efforts to learn about such matters, and if they are interested, will direct them to appropriate resources for that purpose. Educating clients is a substantial part of what I do, and if they are willing to seek out basic information on their own, our time together can be used more productively and efficiently.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I am willing to review documents prepared by clients, advise as to potential pitfalls and suggest corrections if necessary. A self-prepared document will sometimes accomplish all of a client's goals, and if it does not, it can provide a good indication of the client's values and concerns, as well as a starting point for discussions.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

Generally, no.

Cynthia Hannah-White

From 1992 to 1998, I worked as legal assistant to an appellate level judge, researching complex cases and drafting appellate decisions in all areas of the law. From 1998, I held a similar position in the chambers of a civil trial judge, resolving motions and other matters in connection with complex civil litigation including corporate, contract, matrimonial, personal injury, real property, and other matters. In addition, I conducted pre-trial and settlement conferences, and assisted self-represented litigants and attorneys with issues of law and procedure.

I have had a full life, raising a family, working in many different jobs - including as an hourly factory worker, lab technician, computer programmer, teacher, salesperson, and volunteer firefighter/EMT - helping to care for elderly relatives, living in four states, running a business, traveling.

Every experience that I have had makes me a better lawyer, because it provides understanding of the ways in which people's lives differ, and reminds me not to make assumptions, but to listen and learn before jumping to conclusions. My experience working in the court system, helping judges to carry out their duties and decide cases, is also extremely beneficial, because it has given me a detailed understanding of how the system works, how judges review and decide cases and motions, and the stresses and limitations placed on court employees.

I believe my strengths lie in my analytical ability, attention to detail, strong legal research and writing background, and down-to-earth communication style. My clients have expressed appreciation of the way in which I explain complex legal and financial concepts in plain terms, without using "legalese" or jargon. I am also willing and able to adjust my procedures depending on a client's preferences regarding the use of technology (such as communicating and exchanging documents using e-mail).

Personal interests:

I enjoy spending time with my family, which usually involves hiking, geocaching, biking, attending my son's swim meets, or playing in the ocean; snorkeling; reading; tinkering with website design; sewing; and exploring new activities (maybe windsurfing, or SCUBA diving, will be next

License
  • Bar Number: 008977
    Hawaii , 2008
  • Bar Number: 2530814
    New York , 1993
Education
  • Cornell Law School
    Juris Doctor , 1992
    Ithaca, NY
    Concentration in Business Law and Taxation.
  • Michigan State University
    Bachelor of Science , 1984
    East Lansing, MI
    Major in Biochemistry and Physiology.

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