American film actor and entertainer Mickey Rooney, as our readers may know, died on Sunday at the age of 93, leaving behind quite an impressive career but not a whole lot to show for it financially speaking. On Tuesday, it was revealed that the extent of the actor's estate was $18,000. Rooney, though a will signed on March 11, left all of that to his caretaker stepson and his stepson's wife.
In doing so, he disinherited not only his eight biological children, but also his latest wife, Janice. According to his attorney, Rooney intentionally left his wife out of the will because he felt that he had sufficiently provided for her in a 2012 marital separation agreement. And he simply felt that his children were better off financially than him. It isn't known whether his last will and testament will become the subject of dispute, but his remains already have.
Rooney’s estranged wife apparently attempted to have his body moved against his expressed wishes within hours of his death. Although she apparently hadn’t spoken to him in two years, she felt that his wishes were to be buried alongside her. Rooney’s conservator and caretaker stepson, on the other hand, say his wishes were to be buried either in a veterans cemetery or next to other film stars. The mortuary where his body is being kept has refused to release his remains until the dispute is resolved.
There is a bit of a background to the dispute. Rooney had previously filed an elder abuse lawsuit against his late estranged wife’s son, who eventually agreed to settle the care for $2.86 million. That judgment was declared uncollectable because of the stepson’s own financial troubles. In terms of what will happen with Rooney’s remains, there is a hearing scheduled on Friday. Hopefully Rooney’s family is able to come to a resolution.
Although thorough estate planning can go a long way in preventing family disputes, it is not always possible to completely eliminate all disputes. Still, working with an experienced attorney in the planning process can at least help reduce fighting.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Mickey Rooney’s body goes unclaimed as family feuds over burial site” Victoria Kim, April 8, 2014.