As Chair of the Trust and Estates Department at Cades Schutte, Rhonda’s practice encompasses advising clients as to all areas of estate planning, from basic wills and trusts to more sophisticated planning such as generation-skipping dynasty trusts, sales to irrevocable trusts, qualified domestic trusts, charitable gifts, and family limited partnership planning.
Her practice integrates the personal and estate tax planning concerns of individuals with tax and business planning for their closely-held businesses, and other legacy properties. Rhonda works closely with her clients and other advisors to create and implement personally tailored strategies to preserve assets and transmit wealth while minimizing transfer taxes. She advises clients on all aspects of high-net worth trust administration, including valuation issues, allocation of assets and funding trusts. She is often sought after to counsel on the appropriate use of trusts, partnerships, LLCs and other vehicles to achieve planning goals.
Her significant reputation as a preeminent litigator is based on 30 years of extensive experience in all aspects of estate litigation, including: probate, trust and guardianship litigation and appeals, will and trust contests and cases involving capacity, undue influence, determination of beneficiaries, spousal elective share, estate claims, and breach of fiduciary duty, and claims.
Rhonda also advises fiduciaries and financial institutions in connection with their fiduciary duties, including probate proceedings, state and federal gift tax return preparation and audits, and trust and estate accounting proceedings.
A Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Rhonda is also a court appointed member on the State of Hawaii Committee on Uniform Probate Code and Probate Court Practices. She was selected by her peers to be included in Best Lawyers in America for the past 10 years. Rhonda has been listed in Honolulu Magazine’s “Best Lawyers in Hawai‘i” for the same period. She has a Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review rating of AV (highest level of professional excellence for attorneys admitted to the bar for 10 years or more), and has been identified as one of Hawai‘i’s “Super Lawyers.”
Rhonda is a member of the American Bar Association, the Hawai‘ State Bar Association, Gift and Estate Tax Section (former Chair), former President and current Director of Hawaii Women’s Legal Foundation, Secretary and Director of the Hawaii Justice Foundation, a Director of the Hawaii State Bar Association, and a Director of the Cades Foundation.
- In re Elizabeth J. K. L. Lucas Charitable Gift, 125 Haw. 351 (2011) (clarifying cy pres doctrine in Hawai‘i).
- In re Robinson Trust, 110 Haw. 181 (2006) (trust interpretation case).
- In re Medeiros Testamentary Trust & Life Insurance Trust, 105 Haw. 284 (2004) (trust interpretation case).
- In re Estate of Ferdinand Marcos, 88 Haw. 148 (1998) (finding no Hawai‘i domicile in probate proceeding).
Awards and Honors
- Best Lawyers of America® 2017 Hawai‘i Lawyer of the Year for Trusts and Estates
- Best Lawyers of America® 2016 Hawai‘i Lawyer of the Year for Litigation – Trusts and Estates
- Listed in Best Lawyers of America® since 2003
- Super Lawyers List, Estate Planning & Probate, since 2008
- J.D. (1984), William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i
- B.A., California State University at Chico
- Encyclopedia of Estate Planning, Hawai‘i State Bar Association (Editor-in-Chief 2007 ed.)
- Hawai‘i Conservatorship and Guardianship Manual (contributing author 2005 and 2010 Ed.)
- Estate Planning Forms Manual (contributing author, 2000)
- You and the Law in Hawai‘i, Estate Planning and Probate, Kapiolani Community College Television Series (Panelist)
- Hawai‘i Probate Sourcebook (1992 and 1996 Ed.)
- Rhonda has given numerous seminars and speeches in a wide variety of estate planning and trust administration issues.
- Hawai‘i State Bar (1984)
- United States District Court for the District of Hawai‘i
- Hawai‘i State Bar Association (Estate and Probate Section; Elder Law Section; Tax Section)
- American Bar Association (Tax Section; Probate and Trust Section)
- American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (Current State Chair)
- Committee on Uniform Probate Code and Probate Court Practices (Court Appointed Member)
- Director, Hawai‘i Women Legal Foundation
- Secretary/Director, Hawai‘i Justice Foundation
- Director, Hawai‘i State Bar Association
- Director, Cades Foundation
- Estate Planning Council
August 15, 2017 - 32 Cades Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers of America® 2018
December 30, 2016 - Cades Volunteers at Institute for Human Services
August 15, 2016 - 28 Cades Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers of America® 2017
January 22, 2016 - Upcoming: Estate Planning Seminar by Rhonda Griswold and Stacy Takekawa
August 17, 2015 - 28 Cades Attorneys Listed in Best Lawyers of America® 2016
November 1, 2013 - Cades volunteers with The Institute for Human Services Meal Program
November 1, 2013 - VLSH presents first ever Ho`oilian (Legacy) Award to the Cades Foundation
October 24, 2013 - Cades Schutte presents scholarship to Zane Kunimura at Pro Bono Celebration