The battle over the estate of Gary Coleman is heating up, with three separate wills already surfacing.
In a 2005 document, Coleman leaves everything to Anna Gray, a close friend and business partner with whom he lived until meeting future wife Shannon Price.
“When Shannon moved in, the relationship got difficult because Shannon didn’t like the fact that there was somebody else in his life,” Coleman’s agent Robert Malcolm told Entertainment Tonight. “And, of course, he sided with [Shannon], and Anna was asked to leave.”
Price maintains she is the only heir to the estate and has produced a handwritten addendum to the will. Dated September 4, 2007 — about a week after the pair wed — Coleman added the cryptic message, “This I have done because of my own personal selfishness and weakness and I love her with all my heart.”
This will would make Price the “sole heir of any and all monies, properties, bank accounts, earnings, model trains, vehicles, cars, toys, games, electronics, homes, other inheritances if any, all things physical and/or intellectual.”
Complicating matters for Price is the fact that not only was the 2007 will not witnessed or notarized, but the couple divorced in 2008 — a fact that Coleman’s former business manager Dion Mial says should void the document. Mial filed the first will in the three-way battle, dating from 1999.
Price maintains that regardless of the divorce, the couple had a common-law marriage. “Shannon and the decedent continued to have a romantic relationship and engage in romantic and sexual relations,” said her lawyer.
Also complicating matters? A few unsavory facts about Price herself. Exhibit A: A tape discovered by TMZ showing Gary complaining that all Price cares about is money, and that he has been forced to take jobs he hates in order to support her.
Exhibit B: Reports that Price took photos of Coleman immediately before and after his death and sold them to tabloids.
Exhibit C: A 911 tape that makes it very clear Price was reluctant to help Coleman after he suffered a head injury that seems to have led to his death — so reluctant, in fact, that it has even raised rumors she may have caused the injury in the first place, a fact she denies.
Exhibit D: Price was the one to make the decision to remove Coleman from life support, despite the fact that they were no longer married and she should not have legally been recognized as next of kin.
Of course, the fact remains that all this legal wrangling is probably a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Coleman’s cash from Diff’rent Strokes was spent long ago by his unscrupulous parents and a large legal settlement in his favor on the matter also quickly evaporated.
Meanwhile, Coleman’s body still awaits disposition.