Actor Mickey Rooney passed away recently, saddening his many fans, friends, and family. The actor, whose career spanned 90 years, appeared in moves, on TV, and on Broadway. He received critical acclaim for many of his roles, including six Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations.
Unfortunately, Mickey Rooney’s death has been accompanied by a swarm of controversy.
Despite a long and successful career, the actor didn’t leave behind very much in terms of assets. According to the LA Times, “Rooney’s trust didn’t have a dime” and he “owned back taxes to the IRS and the state Franchise Tax Board.”
What little he had, he left to his stepson, Mark Rooney, and his stepson’s wife, Charlene. He disinherited his eight biological children and two other stepchildren. CNN reports that his conservator, attorney Michael Augustine, said that this decision wasn’t made out of malice; instead, it was made because his children were better off than he was, and Mickey felt that his estate should go to those who had taken good care of him in his final days.
Though Mickey had little in the way of an estate, his family has found something to fight over.
At his death, Mickey was still married to his estranged wife, Jan Chamberlain.
Chamberlain, and her son Christopher Aber, attempted to move Rooney’s body from Forest Lawn cemetery and have him buried at Westlake Village cemetery next to a plot for Chamberlain.
Mark Rooney and his wife, however, argue that Mickey wanted to be buried in a veteran’s or a Hollywood cemetery. They state that Mickey hadn’t talked to his wife or her son in years. This is certainly plausible, as Mickey filed a lawsuit alleging financial abuse against Christopher Aber in 2011.
Until this matter is settled in court, the judge has ruled that no one can claim Mickey’s remains.
Cases like these serve as a sad reminder of the importance of good estate planning. Not all disputes can be avoided, but clear instructions in your estate plan can help minimize confusion about your last wishes and the risk of an ensuing court battle.
Photo credit: Flickr contributor, Global Panorama