Tuesday, September 18, 2018
The last "princess" Hawaii, a descendant of the Hawaiian royal family that was overthrown in 1893, has been found to not possess sufficient capacity to manage her $215 million trust. Abigail Kawānanakoa, 92, is also the great-granddaughter of James Campbell, a sugar plantation owner that was one of Hawaii's largest landowners, and whom Kawānanakoa inherited much of her fortune from.
Kawānanakoa was known locally to be quiet and private, but also would lend a hand to many in need by paying people's bills and mortgages. In 2001, the heiress also established a $100m trust aimed at supporting Native Hawaiian language, culture, art, education, health and housing. “At the moment, she is a benefactor for the Hawaiian people,” said Lilikalā Kame’eleihiwa, director and professor at the University of Hawaii’s Center for Hawaiian Studies and a board member for Kawānanakoa’s trust.
But Kawānanakoa had a stroke last year and allegedly began to act "out of character." She married her girlfriend of over two decades, Veronica Gail Worth, and fired her attorney, Jim Wright after he claimed she was no longer able to serve as a trustee. Kawānanakoa hired new representative, Michael Lilly, and told a judge in Honolulu that she desired to remove Wright and appoint new trustees, including her wife.
The judge on Monday removed Wright as trustee, but appointed First Hawaiian Bank in his place. He said that he believed Kawānanakoa was able to decide that she wanted a trustee replaced, but that it was more complicated to appoint someone new, and that he didn’t find her capable of managing her financial assets.
See Breena Kerr, Judge Rules Hawaiian Princess Unfit to Manage $215m Trust, The Guardian, September 15, 2018.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.