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Dispute Over Actor’s Burial Shows Gap in Estate Plan

Most disputes that hit the news after someone passes away involve the family fighting over belongings or cash. However, divvying up assets and naming an executor are only parts of a thorough estate plan. Making it clear through a will or other legal document how and where a person wishes to be buried is also important.

Famous actor Mickey Rooney passed away at the age of 93 on April 6, and it didn’t take long for the family to start disagreeing over where the man would be buried. According to reports, Rooney’s wife and her son believed that the actor should be buried at a cemetery where he had bought plots for himself and his wife. The estate attorneys and a court-appointed conservator disagreed, however, arguing that Rooney had separated from his wife prior to his death and would not have wanted to be buried next to her. They claimed, instead, that the actor wanted a Hollywood burial.

The two sides reached an agreement on April 9, the day before a scheduled court hearing on the matter. Rooney’s wife’s attorney stated that she had decided that the Hollywood Forever Cemetery burial was for the best for the “sake of his fans and peers.” Other famous stars who have been laid to rest there include Rudolph Valentino and Jayne Mansfield. Despite the high-profile burial location, the parties have apparently also agreed that the funeral will be small and mostly family, according to the conservator.

For those in Massachusetts, making sure that how and where a person wishes to be buried is spelled out clearly in a document that will stand in court can help ensure that family and friends can devote the time after a person’s death to the grieving process instead of a court dispute.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Rooney family ends dispute, agrees to bury actor at Hollywood Forever” Victoria Kim, Apr. 10, 2014

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