Andy Rooney’s estranged wife and stepson fight over control of his remains

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2014 | Probate Litigation

After a lifetime of acting in Hollywood, actor Mickey Rooney recently died at the age of 93. Throughout his successful career, Rooney portrayed variety of characters and was once the highest paid actor in Hollywood. However, estate documents show that by the time Rooney died, he had only roughly $18,000 to his name.

During his lifetime, Rooney was married a total of eight times and fathered eight children. He also had three step-children from his last marriage of 35 years. In recent years, Rooney separated from his last wife whom he disinherited in his will, but she remains the beneficiary of several other accounts and will receive an estimated $8,400 each month.

The actor’s death has set off a dispute between Rooney’s estranged wife and Rooney’s attorney who claims the actor expressly stated he no longer wanted to be buried at a funeral plot he’d purchased some 15 years ago. Believing Rooney’s estranged wife and a stepson would try to remove the actor’s body, a judge has ordered that the Rooney’s remains stay put until he rules on the matter.

In recent years, Rooney accused one of his stepsons, who was previously his manager, of elder abuse. Prior to his death, Rooney won a $2.8 million judgment against this stepson. However, at the time of the actor’s death, none of the money had been recovered and likely will not be now that the actor has passed away. Rooney’s will also bars the stepson from attending the actor’s funeral.

In addition to intentionally disinheriting his estranged wife of 35 years, Rooney also intentionally disinherited his eight biological children and two of his stepchildren, citing that all were better off financially than he. He left his estate, valued to be around $18,000, to one stepson and his wife who acted as Rooney’s caretakers in the years preceding his death.

This case proves how, even in death, estate disputes amongst family members or legal representatives of the deceased can erupt. To avoid these types of situations, when possible, it’s best to express one’s wishes prior to death. When this is not possible, documenting these wishes in a will can serve to protect and individual’s rights and preserve their last wishes.

Source:, “With not much in Mickey Rooney’s estate, fight possible over his remains,” Alan Duke, April 9, 2014New York Daily News, “Mickey Rooney’s will shows his estate was worth $18G as a battle erupts over control of his remains,” Nancy Dillon, April 8, 2014


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