wills

Gary Coleman

I am sure that most people will remember Gary Colemann and his sad story after his televison career concluded.   After his death, his estate became imbroiled in a lengthly period of litigation.

Primarily due to poor estate planning.   I am sharing an article that was sent to by Steven Greenwood, P.C. steve@caestatelaw.com  discussing this situation and the outcome.

“Invalidated Will Ends Two-Year Court Battle over Gary Coleman’s Estate”

“A judgment handed down in May regarding the estate of late comedic actor Gary Coleman highlights important issues for estate planners and advisors everywhere.

Coleman died May 28, 2010. After two years of legal battles, Coleman’s ex-wife, Shannon Price, is officially disinherited. Utah Fourth District Court Judge James R. Taylor instead ruled in favor of Anna Gray, Coleman’s former business manager and CEO of his company.

Divorce Complicates Inheritance Issues
The judge’s decision (http://tinyurl.com/8ybaqvv) was based on two important pieces of evidence: Coleman’s will, and whether despite the divorce Price could be considered Coleman’s common law wife.

In his 2005 will, Coleman named Gray as executor and primary beneficiary. Price met Coleman later that same year, and they married in 2007. In 2006, Coleman signed a document giving Price power of attorney for healthcare issues.

During the court proceedings in Utah, Price also produced a 2007 handwritten amendment to Coleman’s will naming Price his heir. However, according to Utah law, the couple’s 2008 divorce invalidated these documents.

The divorce would have ended the matter, but Price and Coleman continued to live together until the time of his accident and subsequent death.

In her testimony, Price claimed that though she was no longer his wife by marriage, due to their living arrangements, she was his common law wife and was entitled to all the same legal rights.

 Judge Taylor found otherwise after being presented evidence that Price dated someone else while she and Coleman slept in separate bedrooms without a sexual relationship.

Price could still appeal, leaving Coleman’s estate embroiled in further controversy.

I will post the reminder of the article on 7/19/12

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