Mickey Rooney’s Family Accused of Elder Abuse, in Court Following Actor’s Death
By Kent Berk on May 21st, 2014 in BLOG, Elder Abuse, Elder Law, Probate, PROBATE LITIGATION, undue influence, WILL CONTESTS, WILL VALIDITY
To a certain generation, Mickey Rooney evokes memories of Hollywood’s golden years, where going to the movies was a happy, music-filled, and glamorous experience. Classic film fans mourned the loss of an icon after hearing news of Rooney’s passing on April 6, 2014.
Quickly following on the heels of this tragic news, however, was word that Rooney’s extended family was openly feuding about everything from who would claim his body to who should lay claim to his somewhat meager estate. News of his final years also included stories of possible elder abuse by those same relatives.
The years before his death seem to have foreshadowed his final decline. Since 2011, he had fought legal and personal battles, struggling to maintain his dignity. In that year, Rooney and his attorneys filed a financial elder abuse lawsuit against Chris Aber, his wife’s son from a previous marriage, and Aber’s wife. The lawsuit accused the Abers of robbing Rooney of millions of dollars and the family of elder abuse.
In fact, Rooney himself testified before Congress and said as much. Rooney told the Senate Special Committee on Aging, “I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated.” He went on to encourage others suffering elder abuse to speak up: “Because of your love for other family members, you might feel hesitant to come forward, but I want to tell you this: You are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of… If elder abuse happened to me, it can happen to anyone. I want you to know you deserve better.”
As a result of the lawsuit, Rooney was appointed a conservator, L.A. attorney Michael Augustine, to protect his affairs. The Abers were prohibited from contacting him and were ordered to pay $2.9 million in a judgment that dropped the abuse allegations in exchange for the settlement.
Still, the Hollywood legend’s family wouldn’t be done with court until some time after his death. According to the article in the LA Times, Rooney’s death was accompanied by a feud over his burial site. Jan Chamberlain, Rooney’s estranged wife, and her son Chris Aber, claimed that Rooney should be buried in a plot next to one designated for Chamberlain. However, Mark Aber and his wife, with whom Rooney had been living since the elder abuse lawsuit, insisted the Rooney expressed his desire to be buried in a veteran’s or Hollywood cemetery.
The lawsuit came to a close soon after, as Rooney’s survivors agreed to a settlement in which he would be buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
At Berk Law Group P.C., we are familiar with situations similar to the one Mickey Rooney faced in his final years. If you are concerned that a loved one is being taken advantage of or abused, you should know that we will do our best to help. Like Mickey Rooney said, we believe our elders deserve better.