Mickey Rooney’s Big Personality
Mickey Rooney was an American actor of film, television, Broadway, radio and vaudeville. His career stretched across nearly nine decades and included his part in more than 300 films. From birth to death, Rooney overcame the constant evolution of cinema. He was one of the few to make the jump from silent film to sound and certainly one of the last of his generation to end his career in acting. He was a man who transcended art styles, from Broadway to character acting. Rooney could sing, dance, clown and play various musical instruments. He became widely loved for it. Yet, while Rooney might have been an expert in acting, he came up short when it came to planning.
Mickey Rooney’s Big Problems
Rooney made catastrophic changes to his Will just a few short weeks before he passed away. These changes would spur great dissent amongst his family. In these modifications, Rooney disinherited all but one of his nine children as well as his estranged wife, Jan. The Will instructed his lawyer to manage his estate rather than the family. One might falsely presume, due to Rooney’s long and successful career, the star was sitting on a large nest egg. However, the truth began to seep out when Rooney’s lawyer disclosed that his client was unable to afford a burial plot.
In truth, the estate Rooney had left to his stepson, Mark Rooney, had dwindled to a mere $18,000. His choice to give everything to Mark was later seen as more of thank you to his stepson for caring for Rooney in his old age rather than a snuff against his ex-wife and other children. Yet, the damage had already been done. Rooney’s estranged wife and many of the children contested the Will. Claims were made that there were misstatements in the Will and questions were raised of Rooney’s capacity to make changes at the time. It wasn’t until over a year later that Rooney’s last biological child dropped objections. What was likely meant as a last-minute kind attempt to pay back his step-son became a year of stress and financial burden for all of the family involved.
Champ or Chump?
Mickey Rooney spent a lifetime honing his skill as an actor. Yet, when it came to estate planning, he most certainly would not have made the casting call. We can’t be pros at everything we do and that’s ok. However, that does not excuse waiting until the last second to try and get your Last Will and Testament right. A much better option is to hire a lawyer early on to assist in the estate planning process. If you want to protect your wealth and legacy for the ones you love, contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.