Mary Tyler Moore Leaves a Legacy

By Stephen J. Silverberg
New York Elder Law Attorney

When actress Mary Tyler Moore was told she had diabetes, her doctors gave her a 50-50 shot at living another 35 years. She proved them wrong, living longer than expected and along the way raising awareness and millions of dollars as a celebrity advocate for diabetes research.

Mary lived as comfortably as her health permitted, courtesy of the television empire she built after her signature roles ended. Having buried her only son and reportedly never bonding with ex-husband Grant Tinker’s children, a recent article assumes that her primary heir will be her husband of 33 years. He is legally entitled to at least a third of whatever Mary left behind under state rules.

There were reports of domestic disputes, but Moore died married.

Connecticut law says her husband will get the spousal share, estimated to be about $20 million, as reported in Trust Advisor’s article, “Mary Tyler Moore: Will Charities or Estranged Relatives Inherit?”

Moore withdrew from active celebrity life in the early 1980s and focused on the TV production empire she’d built with then-husband Grant Tinker. The company, MTM Productions, bore her initials and was very profitable into the late 1980s. The company produced shows like “Hill Street Blues,” “Newhart,” and “St. Elsewhere,” and MTM earned more than $40 million a year.

Mary Tyler Moore will be remembered as a star, but she lived like an entrepreneur, generating a great deal of passive income. She gave generously to favorite charities, such as juvenile diabetes research and animal protection. She also began her philanthropy early and got to see her money doing good things.

About the Author
Stephen J. Silverberg is nationally recognized as a leader in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, asset preservation planning, and elder law. He is a past president of the prestigious National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and a founding member and past president of the New York State chapter of NAELA.