Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa is one of the richest people in Hawaii and also the last remaining Hawaiian princess. She has an estimated fortune of $215 million, but she is currently struggling just to pay the electric bill, after a stroke launched her former attorney and wife into a battle over her fortune and well being.
Attorney James Wright was assigned control of Kawānanakoa's fortune last summer after her stroke. Wright's lawyer alleges that Kawānanakoa is "unable to meet the essentials of physical health, safety, self-care or financial matters." He claims that Kawānanakoa needs the protection of the court. Wright was her attorney for nearly 20 years. He claims to have spoken to Kawānanakoa three hours before she had the stroke and maintains that she is no longer the same person.
Kawānanakoa fired Wright as her personal attorney and married her long time girlfriend Veronica Worth last fall. Wright has filed a lawsuit alleging that Veronica physically abuses Kawānanakoa. For what it's worth, Abigail herself claims she is fine. Her attorneys have also disputed the claims that Kawānanakoa is being abused by her partner of more than two decades. The bruising evident on her was from tripping and falling against furniture – something that is not uncommon for someone her age.
Kawānanakoa is considered a princess because she is a direct descendant of Prince David Kawānanakoa, an heir to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Queen Lili'uokalani is Princess Kawānanakoa's great aunt. She was the last monarch of Hawaii. Her reign ended in 1898 when the U.S. annexed the Hawaiian Islands.
Kawānanakoa is a very private person. Her $215 million fortune includes race horses and real estate. Worth, who receives $700,000 a year from her wife's trust and has power of attorney over her health care, insists that Kawānanakoa is still capable of making financial decisions. Her attorneys have filed papers in court revealing that while the princess had a stroke, it was mild and caused no lasting or permanent damage.
In September, a judge appointed someone to independently investigate Kawānanakoa's mental capacity as well as the allegations of abuse.
Kawānanakoa and Worth simply want to put the heiress back in control of her finances.
Wright has accused Worth of being a gold digger who is making a play for her wife's fortune. However, since he has been in control, the electricity bills haven't been paid on Iolani Palace, which is where she lives and which is also open to the public for tours. The officials who run the palace have been relying on a backup plan to pay the bills and stay open.
Kawānanakoa also had funds set aside for a native Hawaiian nursing student's scholarship that have not been accessible. Also missing are funds that were earmarked by Kawānanakoa to repair a damaged crypt at the Royal Mausoleum, where members of the Hawaiian Royal Family are buried. Kawānanakoa has no real power or official title in Hawaii, but that doesn't matter to native Hawaiians. She is a link to the island's past, before America overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom 125 years ago.
The worry is that Kawānanakoa's fortune will fall into the wrong hands. The question is, why should her former attorney be in control of her money? A hearing a tentatively scheduled for February 8th.