Mickey Rooney died on April, 7, 2014, just weeks before he changed his will to leave his entire estate to one of his stepsons. His widow and biological children are contesting the will's validity.
The couple had been married 34 years when they separated in June of 2012. At that time, Rooney's then-wife signed a waiver removing all claims to the actor's estate. The couple remained separated until the actor's death and did not reconcile. However, the widow's lawyer claims that the will does not end her "rights as a surviving spouse."
People close to Rooney claim that he left his entire estate to his stepson because the man was the one to take care of Rooney in his later years. Rooney also believed that his own children and stepchildren -- eight biological and two additional stepchildren -- were better off financially than he was himself. At the time of his death, Rooney's personal property was worth just $18,000.
Rooney's children are also contesting the will through probate litigation. However, an independent attorney found that Rooney was "perfectly competent" when the will was written. Just before the will was written, Rooney acted in movie scenes for the film "Night at the Museum." His lawyer says that Rooney had no problems with his lines during filming.
Although Mickey Rooney's stepson seems to have a solid case for keeping the will intact, there are some cases that call for probate litigation. If you suspect that a loved one was coerced into changing his or her will or you're concerned that someone is attempting to commit fraud, a legal dispute may be your best option. If your loved one hasn't passed, a guardianship can help ensure that he or she is not taken advantage of. However, if you only discover the will fraud after he or she has passed, you may need to file a suit in a probate litigation court.
Source: CNN, "Mickey Rooney's widow contests late actor's will" Alan Duke, May. 11, 2014