Who Inherited Richard Burton's Money When He Died?

Welsh actor Richard Walter Jenkins, better known as Richard Burton, remains one of Old Hollywood's biggest names. He had 79 acting credits throughout his career, including films like "Cleopatra," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and "The Taming of the Shrew." However, his life was not always filled with the luxury afforded by the rewards of a successful show business career.

IMDb explains that Burton had an upbringing that was quite the opposite of affluent. He was the son of a coal miner with 12 siblings in Wales, United Kingdom. After his mother passed and his father left, his sister helped raise him. His interest in Shakespeare and literature propelled him to Oxford University before he made his acting debut in the 1940s. While getting roles in both the United States and the United Kingdom, he was part of a prosperous era for British filmmaking in the 1950s and then began to star alongside big names in Hollywood.

Richard Burton had a luxurious lifestyle with Elizabeth Taylor

In 1962, Richard Burton met Elizabeth Taylor on the set of "Cleopatra." It was then that he catapulted to stardom with his infamous and troubled relationship with Taylor. They had intense chemistry, but their fiery personalities clashed in physical altercations even before they had finished filming "Cleopatra." They were married from 1964 to 1974, but remarried in 1975 — this time for less than one year. Their romance was well documented by tabloids, including their expensive lifestyle (via Biography).

Burton once bought Taylor a 69-carat Cartier diamond ring from a South African mine that was worth over $1 million dollars. This was no extraordinary sum for either Taylor or Burton. According to History, the couple's combined income during the 1960s was upwards of $88 million dollars. Aside from gifts like this diamond ring, Burton and Taylor spent time in incredible resorts such as the Casa Kimberly in Mexico. This hotel even had a pink marble bathtub in the shape of a heart, and a bridge connecting Taylor's suite with Burton's own across the street from the Casa.

Richard Burton passed away in 1984

Richard Burton continued to act in the 1970s and '80s after his divorces from Elizabeth Taylor, though with less buzz than the films in which they both starred. He passed away suddenly from a brain hemorrhage in 1984 (via IMDb). The affluence that was long associated with his life continued even after his death. Who inherited that wealth? Or did he enjoy it while he was alive to the point where there was nothing for any descendants to inherit?

In 1984, The New York Times reported that though his peers believed that he had no money, Burton left behind an estate worth $4.5 million. He had two daughters, Kate and Jessica, with ex-wife Sybil Christopher, to whom he was married before his relationship with Taylor. Jessica suffered from autism and schizophrenia. Burton and Christopher took care of her at home before deciding that she needed specialized care at a living facility. Part of Burton's will went to pay for Jessica's care (via The Free Library). 

Richard Burton left most of his money to his children and widow

While with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton adopted Taylor's daughter Liza from her previous marriage to Mike Todd. Todd died in a plane crash a year after Liza was born. Taylor and Burton adopted a daughter together named Maria, an orphan from Germany (via Woman's World).

Though Burton designated a portion of his will to Jessica for her living and care expenses, The New York Times states that most of his $4.5 million estate was left to his widow, Sally Burton. Much of this was cash in a Bermuda bank account, art, and real estate. In 1984, the Associated Press reported that Burton did not leave anything to Taylor, but he did leave $15,000 to Christopher, another step child from his marriages to Taylor. His other biological daughter and Grey's Anatomy actress Kate received $350,000 (along with the same amount for Jessica) and his adopted daughters Liza and Maria received $15,000 and $279,000, respectively.

The rest went to a few people who used to work for Burton, such as his wardrobe and makeup assistants. He left some money for his siblings as well. He even left some for his mentor (via AP). Despite being known for spending copious amounts of money while married to Taylor, Burton clearly had his finances in order toward the end of his life, and kept multiple important people in mind when creating his will.