Estate Planning Insights – Land Court vs. Regular System

Estate Planning Insights – Land Court vs. Regular System

Photo of Ethan R. Okura

Ethan R. Okura
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

In this month’s column, I’ll be discussing the two different systems for recording ownership of real property (land and buildings) in the state of Hawai‘i. The “regular system” of recording land ownership comes from the traditional English Common Law and is a “race-notice” recording system. It doesn’t determine ownership — it just identifies who recorded documents first. The land court system, established in Hawai‘i in 1903, is a “Torrens Title” system of land registration whereby the state guarantees the title and ownership to those who are registered as an owner of real property. At first blush, it might seem like the land court system would be a better and safer way to own your property. In this article, I will explain why I believe it is less advantageous to own property in the land court system and why you might want to deregister your land court property if you own any.

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Ethan R. Okura received his doctor of jurisprudence degree from Columbia University in 2002. He specializes in estate planning to protect assets from nursing home costs, probate, estate taxes and asset protection. You can learn more about the services offered by his firm by visiting okuralaw.com.

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