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Mickey Rooney back in the spotlight as wife contests his will

Mickey Rooney's passing apparently did not end the dispute between the actor and his wife and stepson. We discussed the situation at length in our April 15 and 24 posts. A few years ago, Rooney accused his wife, her son and her son's wife of financial and verbal abuse. He even spoke to Congress about his ordeal.

He did not divorce his wife Jan, but the two signed an agreement that effectively kept her away from him for the last year of his life. As for Jan's son Christopher and his wife, Rooney's conservator negotiated a settlement that called for the pair to make restitution to Rooney of $2.8 million.

At the time of his death, Rooney was not a wealthy man. He had yet to receive payment from Christopher. He was not entitled to any residuals from the majority of his movies, because he was part of Hollywood's studio system -- as an employee, he ceded his rights to all of his work for hire. At the time of his death, his entire estate was valued at about $18,000. He left it all to his other stepson, the man who, with his own wife, had taken care of Rooney over the last few years.

It was surprising for many, then, to read that Jan was planning to contest Rooney's will. She claims that the will filed with the court is invalid because Rooney lacked capacity at the time he signed it. She claims, too, that Rooney was also subject to undue influence.

Instead, she says, the court should honor the will Rooney executed 11 years before his death. That will names Jan as his sole heir. According to court documents, Jan is claiming that any property owned by Rooney should go to her alone, because California is a community property state and the two were still married at the time of his death.

Christopher is reportedly joining his mother in the will contest. He claims that Rooney owed him as much as $75,000 at the time of his death.

To prevail, Jan and Christopher will have to present the court with more than just their word against Rooney's executor's. They have the burden of proof, and they must present evidence to support each claim.

Source: Radar Online, "Mickey Rooney’s Wife Claims She CAN’T Be Cut From His Will — She Owns Half Of It!," May 15, 2014

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