Mickey Rooney’s Will Contest

estate planning lawyerMickey Rooney recently died at age 93. He had been performing for almost eighty years. Mickey’s Last Will and Testament left his entire estate to his stepson. His wife, Janice, and all of his other children were disinherited. They are now challenging Mickey’s last will.

Eugene Belous, the attorney for Mickey’s wife, claims the will contains a “blatant misstatement” about various agreements between Mickey, his wife and a court appointed conservator for Mickey. Attorney Eugene Belous also stated “there is no provision in either of the two settlement agreements that terminates or in any way effects (her) rights as surviving spouse.” Court documents show Jan Rooney, Mickey’s wife, executed an agreement which contained a waiver of all claims to the husband’s estate. This agreement was executed in June 2012 when the parties separated after more than thirty-four years of marriage.

An interview with the court appointed conservator for Mickey stated the challenge brought by Mickey’s wife to his Last Will and Testament was without merit.

Virtually No Assets

Mickey had a long and prosperous career. However, it is estimated the personal property in Mickey’s estate amounts to less than $20,000.

The will being probated was dated March 11, 2014. This will left all of Mickey’s assets to his stepson Mark Rooney. Mark had been Mickey’s caretaker for the two years prior to his death. The March 11, 2014 will specifically disinherits all eight of Mickey’s surviving biological children. It also disinherits two other stepchildren, who were the children of his wife, Janice.

Children Doing Well

Mickey loved his children. However, he felt they were all financially better set in their lives than he was. When he drafted his last will, he wanted to leave the small amount of personal property he had to his caretaker for the past two years, his stepson, Mark Rooney.

Children Contesting the Will Too

In addition to Mickey’s late wife Janice, his eight children are also contesting his will. The issue with regard to the probating of the will, was whether Mickey had testamentary capacity at the time he executed the will. Attorney Mike Augustine has stated his client, Mickey Rooney, was of sound mind when the will was executed. He had just finished a movie “Night at the Museum”, with Dick Van Dyke. Attorney Augustine claims Mickey had no difficulty in learning his lines and acting through the scenes in the movie.


assistance for seniors in estate planningMost people think Mickey was rich and famous. It turns out he was only famous.

Walk Through of Decedent’s Home To Discover Assets Denied

estate planning lawyerA petition was brought to Gutierrez before Surrogate Rita Mella in the Surrogate’s Court of New York County. Gutierrez claimed he had personal possessions which were in the home of the decedent at the time of decedent’s death. The executor, Berlin, a sister of decedent asked the court to dismiss this discovery petition. The decedent had left a will. It made certain specific bequests to Gutierrez.

Gutierrez wanted a “walk-through” through decedent’s apartment to identify various items which belonged to him. The executor took the position there was no statutory right or authority for Gutierrez to have a walk-through. In addition, the executor claims all property maintained at decedent’s residence had been previously abandoned by Gutierrez.

Walk Through Petition Dismissed

Judge Rita Mella granted the application by the executrix to dismiss the petition brought by Gutierrez for a walk through. She ruled that it did not state a cause of action under the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. She took the position that Gutierrez was not entitled to a walk through pursuant to statutes or caselaw. She dismissed Gutierrez’s petition which stated he had personal effects which were not specifically delineated in his petition to the court. His request to identify these items during a walk through of decedent’s apartment was denied.

estate plannersElliot S. Schlissel and his attorneys litigate all types of estate issues throughout the Metropolitan New York area. The law firm also has an excellent reputation in representing clients regarding elder law issues.

Objections to the Probate of a Will for Undue Influence and Lack of Capacity Denied by the Surrogate

long island estate attorneysSurrogate Peter Kelly, sitting in Queens County, recently had a case before him wherein a son objected to his father’s will being probated. The son, by his attorney, filed objections to probate. The objections alleged his father lacked testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of the will, the will was not properly executed, and there was undue influence over his father at the time of the will execution.

The decedent’s daughter moved for summary judgment requesting the will be admitted to probate and that her brother’s objections to the probating of the will be dismissed by the Court. A summary judgment motion is a motion made on papers which requests the court find there is no questions of fact regarding the application and that a trial will not be necessary to determine these issues.

The Judge Orders a Hearing

Surrogate Peter Kelly ordered a hearing. After the hearing, Surrogate Kelly found the daughter had submitted prima facie evidence the will was properly executed. The court took into consideration the execution of the will was supervised by an attorney, and this gave rise to a presumption the will execution had complied with all statutory requirements. Justice Kelly went on in his decision to state the son, who was objecting to the will, did not establish an issue of fact with regard to his father’s testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of the will. The only medical evidence submitted by the son was that his father was overweight. No evidence was submitted by the son to show his father lacked testamentary capacity at the time of the execution of the will. The court also stated in its decision there was not a “scintilla of evidence” suggesting the petitioner had been involved in unduly influencing her father with regard to the execution of the subject will.

The son’s objections to the probate of the will were dismissed and Surrogate Kelly allowed the will to be probated.

surrogates court counselElliot S. Schlissel is an attorney who practices before the Surrogates’ Courts throughout the metropolitan New York area. He probates wills, files accountings, and litigates estate related matters.

Reclusive Heiress’ Estate Settled

wills and trusts lawyersHuguette Clark died in 2011. At the time of her death, she had more than $300,000,000 in assets. There has recently been a tentative settlement agreement worked out between a variety of parties litigating over the late Huguette Clark’s $300,000,000 estate.

Her Life Story

Ms. Clark was born in 1906. She died at the age of 104. She had been residing in a mansion on Fifth Avenue. She had been married once for a short period of time and never had children. Huguette lived most of her life as a recluse. Many of her family members involved in the estate litigation had never even met her.

Ms. Clark had lived for the last twenty years of her life at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. She had entered the hospital in 1991 with a severe case of skin cancer. The skin cancer caused a disfigurement of her face. After extensive plastic surgery to rehabilitate her face, she refused to go back to her spacious apartment on Fifth Avenue. She continued to live in her hospital room until the day she died. She kept the shades closed and the door to her hospital room closed. She spent her time playing with dolls and watching cartoons.

Ms. Clark’s fortune was inherited. Her father, William Andrews Clark, made his fortune by owning copper mines.

Wills That She Left

Huguette Clark executed two different wills in 2005 during a period of six weeks. The first will left all but $5,000,000 of her estate to a variety of family members. The second Will left her family nothing. It left all of her assets to a foundation for the arts and various individuals she knew. These individuals included her lawyer, who was the draftsman of her will, her accountant, her doctor and one of her nurses.

Settlement Worked Out on Her Estate

A lawsuit had been filed by Ms. Clark’s twenty grandnieces and grandnephews. It was their position Ms.Clark was incompetent, there was undue influence and fraud with regard to the execution of the second Will and therefore it should be declared invalid.

A tentative settlement has been worked out on the estate. The New York State Attorney General’s office helped mediate the settlement. Under this agreement, her family would receive $34,500,000, after taxes. The late Ms. Clark’s lawyer, Wallace Bock, her accountant, Irving Kamsler, would receive no inheritance. Ms. Clark’s nurse, Hadassah Peri, would also not inherit any funds from her estate and in addition would have to return the $5,000,000 she was given during Ms. Clark’s life. Although Mrs. Peri received nothing from her estate, she was allowed to keep the more than $30,000,000 she received in gifts during Ms. Clark’s lifetime. Ms. Clark’s lawyer and accountant would also be entitled to keep the gifts they had received during her lifetime. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, where her father’s art collection is maintained, received $10,000,000 under the settlement.estate planning and wills and trusts

Dying Without A Will

wills and trusts attorneysWhen an individual dies who has no will, the distribution of his or her estate is determined by the Intestacy Law of the state in which the person died in. In the State of New York, individual’s estates who die without a will are distributed as follows:

1. The first $50,000 goes to the spouse, if there is a spouse. The balance of the estate is divided 50% to the spouse (if there is a spouse) and 50% to the children.
2. In the event there is no spouse, the estate is equally divided among the children. If one of the children predeceases the individual who dies, that child’s children (the grandchildren) receive his or her share.
3. If the individual who dies has no spouse and no children, his or her assets go to his mother and father.
4. In the event the individual who dies has no spouse, no children, and the mother and father predeceased him or her, the assets are equally divided among his or her brothers and sisters.
5. In the event an individual dies who has no spouse, no children, the parents have predeceased and their brothers and sisters have predeceased, the nieces and nephews receive the estate.

Testamentary Substitutes

Even if an individual dies without a will, certain assists, called testamentary substitutes, go directly to the beneficiary named within the terms of the asset. Examples of testamentary substitutes are life insurance policies, bank accounts with named beneficiaries, annuities with named beneficiaries, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)’s that have named beneficiaries within the policies.

Appointing An Administrator

When an individual dies without a will, a family member or next of kin must petition the Surrogate’s Court in the county in which the individual resided to be named as Administrator of the Estate. Upon petitioning the court, the Administrator can be granted “Letters of Administration.” This gives the Administrator authority to act on behalf of the estate. The Administrator then marshals the decedent’s assets, pays all outstanding bills and thereafter distributes the balance of the estate to the appropriate heirs. The Administrator also must file State and Federal estate tax returns when necessary.

The Administrator is entitled to a fee pursuant to statute for his or her handling of the estate. This fee is over and above any funds the Administrator inherits in his or her capacity as an heir.estate planning for the elderly

Home loans – Who pays them in the event of your death?

home loan attorneysThere are a lot of questions that are very practical for real life and do cross our minds but we don’t know where to seek the answers for them. One such question is if you have a home loan on your name, what happens in case of your death. Simply putting, the loan will get transferred to the co-applicant or the legal heirs that you have. Thus it should be your prerogative to save your family from repayment problems by getting insurance on the loan. Here are some situations that you can encounter that are explained here in United Finance.

Loans of single people:

In case you are single, the debts that you have will not pass to your family members the way it is with your assets. However, before the assets that you have left passes onto the beneficiaries that you have designated the home loan that you have has to be settled by your estate. This means that whoever has the authority to administer your estate will see that the home loan you have is paid off using your savings and the proceeds of your life insurance. In case the mortgage is cleared, the house passes on to your beneficiaries. An alternative also exists. The administrator can sell off the house and clear your mortgage and the remaining proceedings would go to your beneficiaries.

Loans of married people with joint ownership:

In the situation that you are married and you own the house jointly with your spouse the mortgage and the house will solely pass onto your spouse. This functions just like your bank account, in the event of death of one owner, the other becomes the singular owner. It is same when it comes to co-signers. There are a number of young families who have a limited credit history and they generally have their parents co-sign on their mortgage for them to get a better rate. In this case if both you and your spouse pass away the mortgage falls as a burden on your parents.

Loans of married people with single ownership:

A third situation is if you are married but are the sole owner of your home. You may have purchased the house before your marriage and hadn’t updated the deed. In such a case the fate of the house depends upon what the estate plan says. If there is no estate plan then your house passes on to your spouse but only when the home loan has been paid off completely. It is always better to jointly title the house as it simplifies a lot of legal proceedings. The only time this is not a good idea is when the house is considerably under water and you don’t want your spouse to face that burden. This is a complex legal issue and you should consult a mortgage attorney before taking any final decision.

Marie is an accomplished financial consultant writing about socio-economic problems as well as legal and financial articles in many websites. Her knowledge about reputable money loans online is undoubtedly one of the best.