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Actor leaves behind modest estate

The final wishes of actor Mickey Rooney have been revealed to the public through court filings after the 93-year-old passed away from complications from his diabetes and other natural causes. The actor left his estate mainly to one of his step-sons who had been acting as his caretaker in recent years.

Interestingly, the actor’s estate as covered by the will is valued at only $18,000, suggesting that he may have moved substantial assets out of his estate in previous years. There are various ways that one might decrease the value of their estate over time to minimize tax liability and prevent public disclosure of all of their assets. One option is to move most assets into a trust, where they will be held and managed by a fiduciary and distributed according to one’s specific wishes. Another option is to slowly gift or otherwise transfer assets over time before one passes away.

In this case it seems that Rooney did provide for some of his children and for his estranged wife in various ways, such as through a previous agreement to designate a beneficiary for his pension earnings. However, earlier events involving elder abuse and financial mismanagement by one of the actor’s stepchildren cost the estate millions. The estate is still owed a multi-million settlement from that case but representatives doubt that the full amount will be recovered.

Possibly as a result of this unfortunate situation, Mr. Rooney named his attorney as the executor of his estate, saying specifically that he did not wish for the responsibility to land on any family members.

The estate’s value could grow in the coming months and years as the actor has rights to income from the sale of his previous works and for a recent appearance in a children’s movie franchise.

Source: Associated Press, “Mickey Rooney's will details final wishes,” Athony McCartney, April 9, 2014. 

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