News / World

Battle starts over $200M estate of Hawaiian royal descendant

HONOLULU — The $200 million estate of a 91-year-old descendant of Hawaiian royalty has become the topic of a legal dispute between her lawyer and her longtime partner.

The Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa suffered an acute stroke in June, which on July 24 turned into her lawyer, James Wright, being granted control of her estate by a state probate judge. Wright's lawyer, Frank Kanemitsu, wrote in court documents that since the stroke she is "unable to meet essential requirements of physical health, safety, self-care or financial matters," even with assistance.

"Ms. Kawananakoa and her legacy need the protection of the court," Wright said. "I have represented her for nearly 20 years, and spoke to her three hours before the stroke. She is not the same person."

But Kawananakoa's partner, Veronica Gail Worth, disputes this claim. The heiress is still capable of making financial decisions, Worth said.

Her attorney, Michael Rudy, said a renowned panel of three psychological experts will be hired to examine Kawananakoa, and already the first has found her mentally competent. Another evaluation is being processed, he said, while a third is still being arranged.

Worth possesses Kawananakoa's health care power of attorney. She has been Kawananakoa's partner for more than 20 years.

Rudy said his client's only aim is to put Kawananakoa back in charge of her finances. But Wright said he fears there's a greater money grab in play that could seriously affect Kawananakoa's plan to set up a charity on behalf of the Native Hawaiian people.

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