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Child star Gary Coleman the subject of estate battle

| May 28, 2012 | Probate Litigation

Nevada residents know that when celebrities pass away, there are often battles over their large estates. This was true after the death of child star Gary Coleman in 2010. Coleman became famous as a child when he played on the television show “Different Strokes.” Now, his estate has remained the subject of litigation since nearly the day he passed away.

The estate of Coleman was the subject of a battle between the CEO of his corporation and his ex-wife. The ex-wife claimed to the court that she and the child star maintained a common law marriage after their 2008 divorce. This was central to her argument that a handwritten will created by Coleman during their marriage was valid. The CEO was named in a will drafted by Coleman as an executor of the estate prior to his marriage and divorce.

The court found that the handwritten will was invalidated at the time of the divorce. In addition, it found that the couple did not continue in a common law marriage after the dissolution. This holding resulted in the CEO of the corporation being designated the executor of the actor’s estate.

Like an estate in Nevada could be under similar circumstances, the estate of the Coleman was the subject of litigation due to the different wills created by the actor before his death. The two wills apparently created confusion to those who wished to be the Executors of the estate. Both parties wished to have control of the disposition of the actor’s assets and the future of his existing work product. Though specific details of the wishes of Coleman as to his continuing proceeds from reruns was not detailed, there may be long-term income to be dispersed as a result of his work in the entertainment industry.

Source: Lee Enterprises, “Gary Coleman’s ex-wife loses bid for control over his estate : Utah News from the Daily Herald Newspaper,” Jim Dalrymple, May 15, 2012

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