A key court hearing in a legal fight over the trust is scheduled for Monday.
Her longtime lawyer, Jim Wright, persuaded a judge to appoint him as trustee, arguing a stroke last year left her impaired. Kawananakoa says she’s fine.
As trustee, Wright appointed three prominent Native Hawaiian leaders to serve as board members for the $100 million foundation Kawananakoa created in 2001. The foundation has a right to participate in the court battle because it is a beneficiary of her trust.
Kawananakoa “has reached a point in her life where she needs us to stand up and fight for her and her legacy,” said foundation board member Jan Dill. Kawananakoa intended that the foundation serve the Hawaiian community in arts, language, culture and education, he said.
Dill and the other board members accuse Kawananakoa’s wife, Veronica Gail Worth, and her attorneys, of exploiting her.
“For me, this is a clear case of elder abuse,” said board member Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, urging that the judge appoint a guardian for Kawananakoa. “At the rate they’re going spending money, we’ll see if there’s anything left for the Hawaiian people in this trust,” she said.
The judge needs to follow the estate plan she created for herself, the board members said. “She had everything set up for Jim Wright to step in and do the right thing and I think he has,” Kameeleihiwa said.
Correction: An earlier version of the story said that attorney Michael Lilly is representing Abigail Kawananakoa and Veronica Gail Worth, but he is only representing Kawananakoa.
Michael Lilly, an attorney representing Kawananakoa, said he is bound by a stipulated court order not to discuss the case publicly. The foundation board members should also be bound by the order, he said, adding that he will respond to their comments in court Monday.
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