Unclear Wills Leave Probate Problems Behind


Mickey Rooney, legendary Hollywood actor died last week, but the fate of his estate is still unclear. His estranged wife will have to await the decision of Mr Rooney's lawyers to see if she can receive his remains or not.

His last will left his modest estate valued at £10,726 to his stepson, Mark Aber, who also served as his caregiver. The star's death was caused by natural causes after spending nine decades in the Hollywood film industry.

Rooney Disinherits Ex-Wife and Children

Rooney, whose real name was Joseph Yule, disinherited his wife and all his children from his last will including his stepson whom he sued after alleging elder abuse and fiscal mismanagement.

Rooney had previously gone before a US Senate committee to express that he had been emotionally and financially abused by his family members. This led to his decision before his death to appoint his lawyer as the executor of his estate and him directing that he did not want any of his relatives handling his affairs.

Cases such as this are becoming more common, where a family member dies having disinherited family members. To disinherit someone means to leave them out of your will completely as you do not wish for them to benefit from your estate.

Who's In and Who's Out?

It is particularly important that if you do wish to openly leave someone out of your will like a child or estranged wife, you have to show that you haven't just forgotten them. You must show that you have intentionally left them out, and therefore lessen the likelihood that they would try and make a claim on your estate after your death.

Without doing this, there's a risk that the disinherited person would be able to successfully argue that there was a mistake, you lacked mental capacity and 'simply forgot', or that there's no legitimate reason that they were disinherited.

The Aftermath

Cases such as Mickey Rooney's show that even though you may not have a lot of money to leave behind, it is still important to make a will that is clear and up to date to dictate what happens when you have passed away. If not, claims can be made on your estate without your knowledge or permission.

A lot of conflict is created in instances where a will is not up to date or clear, and issues such as child custody, funeral arrangements and personal possessions can cause chaos.

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