Legal fees in fight over heiress Kawananakoa’s fortune continue to mount

Legal fees in fight over heiress Kawananakoa’s fortune continue to mount
Hawaiian royalty descendant Abigail Kawananakoa was back in court, rejecting allegations she can't manage her own financial affairs. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the fight for Hawaiian royalty descendant Abigail Kawananakoa’s fortune heads to trial next month, both sides are accusing each other of ratcheting up their legal fees, which are now approaching $7 million.

Megan Kau, an attorney for Kawananakoa’s former housekeepers, alleges that a big chunk of the money is being paid to Kawananakoa’s wife’s attorneys and CPA ― from money that’s supposed to the couple’s personal expenses and taxes.

"It looks like a small portion of it is being used to benefit Ms. Kawananakoa, which is extremely unfortunate,” Kau said.

"I've been worried about undue influence the whole time I've been in this case. It's been my client's position that Miss Kawananakoa has been isolated, abused and taken advantage by the people who surround her."

In a letter to the Probate Court, Kau said Gail Kawananakoa’s law firm ― MacDonald, Rudy, O’Neill & Yamauchi ― was paid $498,000 while another $273,000 went to personal injury attorney David Brustein.

Kau said only $79,000 was spent by Abigail Kawananakoa.

But Michael Rudy, Gail Kawananakoa’s lawyer, said that’s nonsense.

He said most of the legal fees ― more than $5.2 million ― went to pay for law firms hired by Kawananakoa’s former trustee James Wright.

"To sit there and say … that somehow the money has been diverted by Ms. Worth, is just absolutely incredulous. It's absolutely false,” he said.

A hearing on whether Kawanakakoa can manage her own fortune will be held March 3. A hearing on whether to close that hearing to the public will be held tomorrow.

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