Baron Dorcy final days, estate dispute overview (HI)

Here’s a fascinating story out of Hawaii about the final days and estate dispute surrounding the eclectic Baron Dorcy:

On a sunny Thursday in Tahiti last September, friends of the late Laurence H. Dorcy boarded a Polynesian-themed catamaran named the Leaky Tiki and motored onto Cook’s Bay to scatter Dorcy’s cremated remains on the water. A Tahitian priest and a Hawaiian kahuna said some words. Flowered headbands and lei were tossed into the sea atop the ashes. Toasts were made and a bottle of Hinano beer was poured overboard in honor of the man his friends affectionately called “Baron.”  Baron Dorcy declared in his will that he wanted his ashes spread in Tahiti, and he wanted his old friend Carl Geringer, whom he called “Gilligan,” to handle the arrangements. “This truly was what he wished,” says Geringer.  Yet fulfilling Dorcy’s final wishes was far from simple.

When he died at Straub Clinic & Hospital in June 2011, at the age of 76, he left behind an estate estimated at $70 million. Exactly who he intended to leave it to was the question at the heart of a trust-inheritance dispute that involved two conflicting wills, a rewritten trust, and allegations of undue influence, elder abuse and fraud.

On one side were beneficiaries of Dorcy’s original will, which included 32 charitable causes and a couple of dozen friends and relatives. On the other side was Hans Michael Kanuha, a former medical billing clerk, who, in a simple form will created four months before Dorcy’s death, stood to inherit virtually everything.

Kanuha maintained that Dorcy, who had no children, loved him the way a father loves a son. Beneficiaries of the first will alleged that Kanuha and an associate, Petro Hoy, were scam artists who brazenly attempted to seize Dorcy’s fortune. Their alleged scheme involved a handful of co-conspirators and an elaborate charade in which Hoy is accused of impersonating well-known Maui rancher and retired Bank of Hawaii executive Henry Rice.

The case had plenty of odd twists, including Kanuha’s briefly successful bid to become Dorcy’s adopted son while Dorcy lay in a coma. Ultimately, it was settled out of court, hours after a judge ruled that, for Kanuha to prevail, he would have to prove he did not exert undue influence over Dorcy. A criminal investigation by the Maui County prosecutor into the circumstances surrounding Dorcy’s death and into questions of theft and fraud is currently underway.

From a review of the voluminous court record, and through additional reporting, a picture has emerged of Dorcy as a good-hearted but guileless man whose physical and mental health were in decline as he grew increasingly entangled in the alleged plot to swindle him. What follows is an overview of the case and a glimpse into the life of the offbeat millionaire at the center of it.

Read more.


The bizarre final days of Baron Dorcy, Maui Millionaire
Bad Company: Fullfilling Dorcy’s final wishes was far from simple.
December 2012
Honolulu Magazine

No matter how different the estate sizes, locales or cast of characters may be – certain elements and patterns show themselves repeatedly.  This case is no exception.

We’ll look forward to see if anything comes of the investigations underway.