An article today in the New York Daily News noted that Andy Rooney, the popular 60 Minutes commentator and veteran CBS newsman who died last November at the age of 92, left an estate of $9 million that will be split among his four children.
But, as his son Brian Rooney noted, “He could have had a $50 million estate if he’d paid attention to it.”
Brian Rooney was quoted in the article as saying that his father “wasn’t into fancy estate planning…Some years he made more money that others. When he made it, he stashed it away.”
Rooney’s will revealed that he left behind $8 million in stocks, bonds and cash and $1 million in property, including his primary resident in Norwalk, CT, and a summer home in Rensselaerville, NY. His beneficiaries are his three daughters and one son.
What the Daily News article didn’t talk about was how much, if any, of the $9 million in assets would be going to estate taxes. If Rooney wasn’t “into” estate planning, he may not have been aware that only $5 million of his estate was exempt from estate taxes for the year he died, 2011. His wife died in 2004; portability was not available at that time, so he would not have been able to utilize her unused estate or gift tax exemptions for asset protection.
Brian Rooney noted that his father “was not a guy to pay for services,” saying that Andy washed his own car, made his own ice cream and shined his own shoes.
Many may find these qualities admirable, but not paying a little for some good estate planning advice likely cost Rooney’s children millions – a move that should be additional fodder for one of Rooney’s famous curmudgeonly complaints.
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