Many Californians make the mistake of thinking that their estate is too small to need a will. But officially naming beneficiaries, regardless of the size of the estate, is a critical step in ensuring your wishes are carried out after your death. If not, the situation can become contentious as the family tries to determine your wishes after you’re gone.
As you might recall from a previous post, legendary actor Mickey Rooney—who had a career that spanned 90 years—recently passed away and left an estate that totaled just $18,000. Who he left it to has become a source of great debate for the remaining family members. Rooney disinherited his wife and eight biological children, leaving everything to a stepson who had been his caretaker for the final two years of his life.
The family was shocked by the news, but the will, which he amended just weeks before he died, includes language that indicates the late actor intentionally omitted his wife and children. Despite this, Rooney’s widow—and his children—are challenging the will.
The actor’s attorney feels the contest is without merit. Besides having clear language in the will, Rooney was proven to be of sound mind when the will was signed, having just finished filming a new movie. Reports say he had no difficulty learning his lines.
It’s unfortunate to see a family dispute arise over the distribution of assets. But this case underlines the importance of having a rock-solid living will that states your intentions in no uncertain terms, something Rooney appears to have done. A California attorney can help you preserve your legacy and ensure your assets are distributed fairly and according to your wishes.
Source: CNN.com, “Mickey Rooney's widow contests late actor's will,” Alan Duke, May 11, 2014