Information for Relatives of a Deceased Class Member

This information is for relatives of deceased Class Members in the Kalima v. State lawsuit. Class Members are “All persons who filed claims with the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Individual Claims Review Panel on or before August 31, 1995.”

Aloha,

On June 6, 2022, the First Circuit Court granted preliminary approval for a class action settlement in the Kalima v. State lawsuit. On December 4, 2023 a Probate Notice was sent to all potential heirs and relatives of Deceased Class Members on file. If your relative is a Class Member, please fill out the Information Request Form and identify yourself or another family member as the representative to receive written information regarding the claim. You may fill out a Deceased Class Member Information Form here so that we have your contact and other information.

Payment was computed by a Claims Administrator under the direction of a Settlement Special Master and was presented to the Court for approval. The Court granted final approval of the settlement on July 21, 2023.

Class Members who did not opt out and pursued their own lawsuit received a formal notice of settlement payment and can accept the payment or file objections with the Judge.

  1. My relative was a Class Member but has passed away. What do I need to do to receive his/her settlement payment?

    If you have not already done so, please complete the Information Request Form. In order to deliver settlement payments to the proper heirs and devisees of deceased Class Members, and to help expedite this process, the Claims Administrator must have complete contact information about the deceased Class Members’ heirs and devisees. Additionally, please designate one person for each deceased Class Member to provide and receive information. By submitting this information, it will help speed up payment of the Deceased Class Member’s settlement payment.

    If you have already filled out the information request form and the information you submitted is accurate, you do not need to submit another. However, if the information you previously submitted has changed, please submit another form with the updated information.

    The Deceased Class Member Information Request Form is available here.

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  2. My relative was a Class Member but lived outside of Hawai’i. Do I need to do anything else to receive his/her settlement payment?

    If the deceased Class Member died outside Hawai‘i, you must fill out an Deceased Class Member Information Request Form and send a certified copy of the death certificate to the Claims Administrator. You may submit a paper copy by mail or an electronic copy by email. Please make sure that you copy or scan both sides of the certificate so that any certification, seal, or stamp on the front or back of it is clear and visible. Do not send the original document.

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  3. How will settlement payments for deceased Class Members be distributed?

    If a Class Member qualifies to receive a settlement payment but has passed away before the payment is made, the settlement payment will be made as follows:

    1. Settlement payments will be made to the legal representative of the deceased Class Member’s estate after appropriate court documents establishing the legal representative’s appointment is received by the Claims Administrator and approved by the Probate Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawai‘i.
    2. If there is no legal representative, settlement payments will be made to the heirs and devisees of deceased Class Members after orders are issued by the Probate Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawai‘i approving those payments.
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  4. What is a legal representative for an estate?

    The legal representative is a person appointed by a court or through state law process who is responsible for distributing the assets of an estate according to the terms of the deceased’s will, if there was one, or consistent with the laws governing distribution of assets of those who die without a will. Note that a legal representative can also be referred to as a personal representative or executor, depending on the court or state.

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  5. What are acceptable documents to establish the deceased Class Member’s legal representative?

    The specific documents can vary from state to state. Generally, documents are issued by a court or a state law process that identify the legal representative, executor, personal representative or administrator of the estate of the deceased. In this Settlement, Counsel are working with the Court to determine what specific documents will be accepted pursuant to a Probate Plan. Once that Probate Plan is approved by the Court, a list of acceptable documentation will be made available.

    In the meantime, please know that:

    • Documents such as a funeral program, an obituary, or statements from family members are NOT sufficient.
    • Documents showing that you inherited property from the deceased (such as a will) or which establish your family relationship (such as birth certificates or death certificates) are NOT sufficient.
    • Documents indicating the decedent’s desire that you be appointed legal representative or executor of his or her estate (such as a will or Power of Attorney) are NOT sufficient.
    • There can be multiple family members or persons who inherit property but this is not the same as a “legal representative.”

    While these documents do not establish who the legal representative is, they can be helpful in ensuring that any award is given to the correct people who are entitled to share in the proceeds of the estate. Please keep any such documentation so that you can provide it to your attorney or the Probate Special Counsel.

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  6. There are several family members who have submitted Information Request Forms for my deceased parent or deceased relative. Do we all get a settlement payment?

    Not necessarily. If the claim was successful, the settlement payment will be calculated per Class Member. All checks will be made payable either to the legal representative of the estate of a deceased Class Member, or as ordered by the Probate Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. If the payment is made to the legal representative for an estate, the legal representative will be responsible for distributing the Settlement proceeds to the correct people who are entitled to share in the proceeds of the estate.

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  7. My family all agreed that I am the legal representative. Can I just send in a statement from my family?

    No. In order to be the legal representative of an estate, a person must be approved by a court or by a state law process. It is not sufficient that all members of the family of the deceased agree on who they want the legal representative to be.

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  8. Can I just send in a will, funeral program, birth certificate, death certificate, etc. that lists me as related to the deceased class member?

    No. These documents are not sufficient to establish a person as a legal representative. However, these documents may be helpful if you are working with your attorney or with the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel. Please keep any such documentation so that you can provide it to your attorney or the Probate Special Counsel.

    Documents such as a funeral program, an obituary, or statements from family members are NOT sufficient to establish a person as a legal representative.

    Documents showing that you inherited property from the deceased (such as a will) or which establish your family relationship (such as birth certificates or death certificates) are NOT sufficient to establish a person as a legal representative.

    Documents indicating the decedent’s desire that you be appointed executor of his or her estate (such as a will or Power of Attorney) are NOT sufficient to establish you as a legal representative.

    We can only accept documents issued by a court or state law process that establish the legal representative of an estate. In this Settlement, the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel are working with the Court to determine what specific documents will be accepted pursuant to a Probate Plan. Once that Probate Plan is approved by the Court, a list of acceptable documentation will be made available.

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  9. Someone else has been appointed legal representative but I submitted the claim or Information Request Form. What should I do?

    The person who submits the claim or Information Request Form is not always the person who is appointed the legal representative. Please discuss the matter with the individual who was appointed the legal representative.

    The settlement payment will be sent only to the legal representative or sent as directed pursuant to appropriate court order. The legal representative will be responsible for distributing the settlement proceeds to the correct people who are entitled to share in the proceeds of the estate.

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  10. Do I have to hire/pay for/retain an attorney in order to receive the award for my deceased family member?

    You can either hire your own private counsel (at your own cost) or participate in the Probate Plan (fees and costs will be taken from the settlement payment).

    Please see "How do I choose an attorney to help me?" for additional information on locating an attorney to assist. Please see "What is the Probate Plan?" for additional information on the Probate Plan.

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  11. What is the Probate Plan?

    The Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel have been appointed to develop and carry out a process to deliver settlement funds to the heirs and devisees of deceased Class Members. For any families who do not hire private counsel, the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel will petition the Probate Court for approval to make distributions to the proper heirs and devisees. Any fees or costs incurred in this approval will be deducted from the settlement payment.

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  12. Do I have to work with the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel?

    While you may retain private counsel to assist you in the probate process (see "What do I need to do if I want to use the Probate Plan process?"), the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel will be involved to a certain extent in all disbursements for funds allocated for Deceased Class Members.

    You can contact the Hawai‘i State Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service and request a referral to attorneys who are willing to work on the “Kalima Probate” claims:

    Hawaii State Bar Association
    Lawyer Referral and Information Service
    Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    Phone: 1-808-537-9140
    Email: LRIS@hsba.org
    www.hawaiilawyerreferral.com

    You may also contact community legal service providers that may (but also may not) be able to provide free or low-cost legal services, depending on their availability and other factors. These service providers include the following:

    Volunteer Legal Services of Hawai'i: 1-808-528-7046
    Legal Aid Society of Hawai'i: 1-808-696-6322
    University of Hawai'i Elder Law Program: 1-808-956-6544

    Please note that this is not an endorsement of any services or attorneys.

    The deadline to notify the Claims Administrator that you hired a private attorney is December 1, 2023. Please ask your private attorney to inform the Claims Administrator via letter that you are being represented by a private attorney for the probate of the deceased Class Member’s estate. Please ask your private attorney to reference the Kalima Settlement in Court‐filed documents.

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  13. How do I choose an attorney to help me?

    While we cannot specifically identify an attorney for you, there are many qualified attorneys available to assist you. See "Do I have to work with the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel?". However, you may want to speak with several attorneys before deciding to hire a specific attorney. Some issues to discuss with prospective attorneys, include:

    • Does the attorney have a practice that is dedicated to probate matters?
    • How many other cases like mine has the attorney worked on?
    • Who will be working on my case?
    • How will you charge me? What are the estimated legal fees and are there any other fees?
    • How long will it take to go through probate?
    • What potential issues might delay the case?
    • Will I be able to reach you easily?
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  14. How much should I pay for an attorney?

    The amount will likely vary depending on the specific circumstances of the deceased Class Member and the attorney you hire.

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  15. If I don’t hire an attorney, what will I need to do to receive the award for my deceased relative Class Member?

    If you do not hire private counsel, the deceased Class Member will automatically be included in the Probate Plan process. The Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel will petition the Probate Court for approval to make distributions to the proper heirs and devisees. Any fees or costs incurred in obtaining the approval will be deducted from the settlement payment.

    You may be asked for additional information and receive official mail from the Claims Administrator. All letters will reference the Kalima lawsuit or Kalima Settlement Administration in the return address. If you are asked to submit information on your deceased family member’s claim, please do so promptly.

    You will not be asked for personal financial information, such as information about your bank account or assets.

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  16. What do I need to do if I want to use the Probate Plan process?

    Any deceased Class Member who is not represented by private counsel by December 1, 2023 will automatically be included in the Probate Plan process. You may be asked for additional information and receive official mail from the Claims Administrator. All letters will reference the Kalima lawsuit or Kalima Settlement Administration in the return address. If you are asked to submit information on your deceased family member’s claim, please do so promptly.

    You will not be asked for personal financial information, such as information about your bank account or assets.

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  17. How can I be named the Legal Representative for my deceased relative Class Member’s award?

    First, you should discuss who should be the legal representative with any other family members. In most cases, the legal representative is the surviving spouse but can also be the child of the deceased. Next, you should decide if you want to retain private counsel (see "How do I choose an attorney to help me?") or use the Probate Plan (see "What do I need to do if I want to use the Probate Plan process?").

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  18. How long will it take for me to receive the award for my deceased relative Class Member?

    It will vary depending on how long it takes to obtain the proper documentation from the Court.

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  19. What does intestate mean? How do I know if my Class Member relative died intestate? How does intestate affect how/when the award for my Class Member relative is disbursed?

    Intestate means that a person died without a will. When this happens, there’s no legal document to determine how a person’s estate and assets should be divided, including any award from this Settlement. The decision to control and divide up the assets and the award rests on legal procedures in the Probate Court rather than the deceased person’s wishes.

    The Probate Court handles the “probate” of wills, guardianships, conservatorships, trusts, and estate administration. And, in cases of individuals passing away without a will, the Probate Court will determine who is entitled to the deceased person’s assets as well as the award in this Settlement.

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  20. Can I start the probate process now?

    Yes, we encourage you to start the process now by gathering any documentation that you might have relating to the deceased Class Member and determining whether you will retain private counsel or utilize the Probate Plan.

    If you’re hiring private counsel, we ask that you advise the Claims Administrator no later than December 1, 2023, including the name and contact details of your attorney.

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  21. I have documents that establish me as the legal representative of the estate of the deceased Class Member, an Affidavit of Collection, Small Estate Affidavit or other documentation that I believe is sufficient. What should I do with these documents?

    Please send a copy to the Claims Administrator. Please make sure that you copy or scan both sides of the documentation so any certification, seal, or stamp on the front or back of it is clear and visible. Do not send the original copy. Once you submit documentation that you or your attorney believe are acceptable, the Claims Administrator with the Probate Special Master and the Probate Special Counsel will review the documentation to ensure that it conforms to the requirements in the Probate Plan. If additional information is required, we will reach out to you or your attorney.

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  22. How will I know if the documents I submit are acceptable?

    Once you submit documentation that you or your attorney believe are acceptable, the Claims Administrator with the Probate Special Master and the Probate Special Counsel will review the documentation to ensure that it conforms to the requirements in the Probate Plan. If additional information is required, we will reach out to you or your attorney.

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  23. What is the difference between a “Family Representative” and a “Legal Representative” (also called a “Personal Representative” or “Executor”)?

    A “Family Representative” is the person chosen by the family of a Deceased Class Member to be the point of contact with the Claims Administrator for this Settlement. The Family Representative has no legal authority to act on behalf of the Estate of the Deceased Class Member.

    A “Legal Representative” (also called a “Personal Representative” or Executor) is a person appointed by a Court to administer and act on behalf of the Estate of the Deceased Class Member. The authority of the Legal Representative may vary, usually based on findings by the Court. This authority will usually be contained in documents called Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration appointing the Legal Representative.

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  24. Will the Probate Plan appoint a Legal Representative?

    NO. The Probate Plan is not a private probate proceeding and will NOT appoint a Legal Representative.

    If there is a valid and current Legal Representative previously appointed by a Court, the Probate Special Counsel will petition the Court to authorize the Settlement Payment to that Legal Representative.

    If there is not a valid and current Legal Representative previously appointed, the Court will determine the rightful heirs and devisees and the Claims Administrator will distribute the Settlement Payment to those individuals.

    The Court will not appoint a Legal Representative through the Probate Plan.

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  25. I want to be the Legal Representative for my Deceased Class Member’s estate. How do I do that?

    A Legal Representative is NOT required for the purposes of this Settlement. If you want to be appointed as Legal Representative, you will need to hire private counsel, at your own cost, to assist you with probate proceedings. The Probate Plan is not a private probate proceeding and will not appoint a Legal or Personal Representative.

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  26. I am the Executor or Trustee. Am I the Legal Representative?

    Unless you have been formally appointed by the Court in a separate probate proceeding (not the “Probate Plan”), you are not the Legal Representative. If you need further information, you should contact the attorney who assisted with the preparation of the will or trust where you are identified as the Executor or Trustee, or another qualified attorney.

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  27. If I hire private probate counsel, will i get the settlement payment for my deceased class member faster?

    Not necessarily. All settlement payments for Deceased Class Members must be processed through the Probate Plan, regardless of whether private counsel is involved or not. There is no guarantee that private counsel will speed up the process. Providing complete and accurate information to the Claims Administer is the best way to make sure your Deceased Class Member’s claim gets reviewed sooner.

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  28. My Deceased Class Member’s estate has already been through probate. Does it have to go through the Probate Plan?

    YES. All settlement payments for Deceased Class Members must be processed through the Probate Plan, regardless of whether the Estate has already been probated. If it has been probated, please send copies of the documentation to the Claims Administrator so that it can be reviewed by the Probate Special Counsel.

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  29. Can you explain step by step how a Settlement Payment for the Deceased Class Member’s estate will be processed?

    Below is a general overview of the process. Please note that there will be variations as every Deceased Class Member’s situation is slightly different.

    Step 1: Documentation Submitted to the Claims Administrator:
    • A Deceased Class Member Information Form. THIS IS A REQUIREMENT. NO SETTLEMENT PAYMENT FOR A DECEASED CLASS MEMBER WILL BE PROCESSED WITHOUT THIS FORM UNLESS COURT DOCUMENTATION SHOWING A CURRENT AND VALID LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE IS PROVIDED.
    • A Will or Trust, if available.
    • Court documentation appointing a Legal Representative, if available.
    Step 2: Review by the Probate Special Counsel:
    • The Probate Special Counsel will review the submitted documents.
    • The Probate Special Counsel may contact the Legal Representative, Family Representative or members of the family if additional information or documents are needed.
    Step 3: Filing of Petitions for Instructions with the Court:
    • The Probate Special Counsel will file a series of Petitions for Instructions with the Court.
    • Each Petition will detail the proposed payments for several Deceased Class Members. The Petition will identify the Legal Representative (if there is a current and valid one previously appointed) or the heirs and devisees that are entitled to a portion of the Settlement Payment. Each Petition will be published on the this website.
    • The Probate Special Counsel will publish a Notice of Hearing in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, and will state the hearing date for that particular Petition and will include the names of the Deceased Class Members who are included in that Petition. This will also be published on this website.
    • The Probate Special Counsel will send via mail or email a copy of the Petition to all known family members.
    • Each person named in the Petition will have the opportunity to review the Petition relating to their Deceased Class Member. If there are concerns or updates, contact the Claims Administrator.
    Step 4: Court Hearing and Order:
    • The Petition for Instruction will be heard by the Court on the designated hearing date and time.
    • Once the Court makes its decision, it will issue an Order stating how those Deceased Class Members’ Settlement Payment should be paid out.
    Step 5: Waiting Period:
    • There will be a 30-day waiting period for the Court’s Order to become final.
    • During this time, appeals may be filed if there is any disagreement with how the Court has ordered the Settlement Payment to be disbursed.
    Step 6: Payment:
    • Once the Court Order is final, the Claims Administrator will process the Settlement Payment and issue checks in accordance with the Court’s Order.
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  30. What if there is a dispute among our family members?

    If there is a dispute among the family members who are heirs or devisees, the petition will not be processed and the family will be referred to mediation to be provided by the Mediation Center of the Pacific. If the dispute is resolved, the petition will be filed with the Court. If the dispute is not resolved, family members will be required to retain their own attorneys in order to receive the Settlement Payment.

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  31. In what order will the Deceased Class Member’s Settlement Payments be processed?

    Claims with a completed Deceased Class Member Information Form will be processed first and generally in the order received and completed.

    Note that even if there is a completed Deceased Class Member Information Form on file, the processing of the Settlement Payment could be delayed if (a) there are multiple forms with conflicting information; (b) disputes between family members; or (c) incomplete information.

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  32. What is the contact information for the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel?

    Please address all questions and make all requests to the Claims Administrator. Remember that the Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel cannot provide you with specific legal advice. We appreciate your patience as there are over 1,200 Deceased Class Members.

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  33. The Deceased Class Member had a trust. Why does the Deceased Class Member’s estate have to go through probate?

    The Probate Plan is not the same as a full “Probate Proceeding.” The Probate Plan is a mechanism for the Kalima case only in which the Court will approve who is entitled to receive a payment based on a Deceased Class Member’s claim. Even if there is no need for a particular estate to go through a full Probate Proceeding, every deceased Class Member’s settlement proceeds will be processed through the Probate Plan.

    If the Deceased Class Member had a trust (or will) and it is provided, the Probate Special Counsel will review the trust (or will) and take it into consideration when asking the Court to approve who is entitled to receive the Settlement Payment.

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  34. Where can I see what Petitions have been filed?

    If you are named in a Petition, a copy will be mailed directly to you from the Probate Special Counsel. All Petitions that have been filed are available on the Documents page.

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  35. Do I have to attend the hearing for the Petition?

    No, you are not required to attend the hearing.

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  36. When and where is the hearing for the Petitions?

    Hearings for all Petitions will be held in the Probate Court of the First Circuit Court located at Kaʻahumanu Hale, 777 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. All hearings will be held in-person.

    Please check the Petition that you were mailed as it will contain the specific date and time regarding the hearing for your Petition.

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  37. When will my Deceased Class Member be included in a Petition?

    At this time, we cannot provide a specific indication on where your Deceased family member’s Settlement Payment is on the Probate Plan. There are over 1,200 families being addressed. The Probate Special Master and Probate Special Counsel are doing their best to keep the process moving but they must also work with the Court to get the necessary approvals. Please be patient.

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