Financial troubles following a fatal fire

Published On: Jul 23 2013 06:42:36 AM HST   Updated On: Jul 23 2013 06:59:59 AM HST

Months after a deadly blaze killed an elderly man and his daughter, an Oahu family is still struggling from the financial crisis the fire sparked.

They hope their story will cause others to take action before it is too late.

Nearly five months after an early morning fire, the charred remains are still standing of Haruki "Harry" Tokita's home in Waipahu.

"He was always giving. He did not ask for help from anyone, he tried to do everything by himself," said Evan Tokita, Harry's nephew.

Tokita, 84, died in the intense fire and so did his 55-year-old special needs daughter Karen.

"He was a very dedicated father to the three special needs children he had," said Evan.

The fire gutted the home, leaving what little was left exposed to the elements. It also revealed Tokita's troubled finances.

Evan said his uncle could have used family member's offers of assistance because Tokita would have soon run out of money. Medical care costs were mounting, bills were unpaid, and necessary home repairs neglected.

"He also missed paying his last premium on the house shortly before it burned down. So we called the insurance company and they said, 'Sorry, its not covered'."

Tokita's two remaining special needs children, who are now adults, were left without a way to pay for their medical care.

The elderly father never claimed federal disability benefits for them. Then he set up his trust, he neglected to tell his attorney his children now required 24-hour medical care.

"The kids are unable to make decisions for themselves, so they can't sell the house or do anything," said Evan.

The burnt home will stay like it is at least until the end of the year. Even though it is a hazard and a liability according to the Tokitas.

The family has to wait for a trustee to be appointed by the court, before Tokita's adult children will receive any money at all.

The demolishing of the home and sale of the land is not the only thing that's had to wait. Tokita, a Korean War veteran is eligible to be buried at Kaneohe Veterans Cemetery. Because all the family's important documents went up in flames though, it has taken months to get approval for his daughter Karen to be buried with him.

The Tokitas are sharing the hardships their family is going through, in the hopes others will ask for help when they need it and plan ahead for the deaths of loved ones.

"I'm sure there are other people out there that have similar situations that haven't planned properly. To avoid a nightmare situation, you have to plan properly," said Evan.

Tokita's family is now trying to get his remaining two special needs children on Medicaid and into permanent care homes.

A charitable account to help cover some of their costs has been set up at Bank of Hawaii, under the name, 'The Sandra and Randall Tokita fund.'"


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