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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 7, 2008

Distribution of Ho estate disputed

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Don Ho

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One of entertainer Don Ho's children has filed legal papers challenging the distribution of assets from his estate, alleging that at the time Ho signed paperwork establishing a personal trust, he was not mentally competent.

Ho died April 14, 2007, of congestive heart failure at the age of 76.

Dorianne "Dori" Ho, one of the singer's six children by his first wife, Melva, initially agreed to a settlement concerning distribution of his assets that was reached earlier this year and was approved last month by Circuit Court Probate Judge Colleen Hirai. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

Now Dori Ho has asked Hirai to reconsider her approval of the trust agreement and appoint a "special master" to investigate allegations of fraud.

On the day Don Ho signed the trust agreement, Sept. 14, 2006, he was in The Queen's Medical Center undergoing treatment for severe heart problems, according to the paperwork filed by Dori Ho.

While in Queen's Sept. 13 and 14, Don Ho "had flatlined" but was "brought back (to life) after several heart failures," Dori Ho said.

"It was impossible for him to sign any documents regarding his estate while he was incapacitated and experiencing death," Dori Ho said in a sworn affidavit dated June 27 and filed three days later at the state Bureau of Conveyances.

Crystal Rose, attorney for the three trustees of Don Ho's trust, released a statement in response to the new court fillings.

"The trustees of the trust dispute Dori's allegations," the statement said.

"These issues have been resolved through lengthy mediation resulting in a confidential settlement agreement signed by all parties, including Dori," said the trustees.

Haumea Hebenstreit Ho, who married the entertainer shortly before the trust agreement was signed in 2006, would not comment and referred questions to the trustees.

In the new court filings, Dori Ho claimed that her father re-married in 2006 primarily for tax reasons.

"I believe it was not my father's desire to be married in a conventional marriage," Dori Ho wrote, but he did so because "various family members" explained to him it would result in "a tax savings of millions of dollars for his estate."

Dori Ho claimed in the court papers that Don Ho didn't know whether to marry Elizabeth Guevara, a longtime companion and mother of two of his children, or Hebenstreit, another longtime companion and manager of his business affairs.

"His first intent was to marry Elizabeth Guevara," but he was persuaded by his personal attorney to marry Hebenstreit "because of her business background," Dori Ho alleged.

Guevara, who is represented in the trust case by the same attorneys who originally represented Dori Ho, would not comment last week. She also referred questions to trust attorney Crystal Rose.

Dori Ho is not represented by an attorney in the new legal filings.

Carroll Taylor, one of the lawyers who originally represented Dori Ho and nine other Ho children and Guevara in the trust case, would not comment last week on Dori Ho's new allegations.