The actor's cremation is on hold while his ex-girlfriend and his ex-wife battle in court
With two former loves now claiming to be the rightful heirs to Gary Coleman’s estate – his ex-wife Shannon Price in one corner, and ex-girlfriend Anna Gray in the other – it may be months before the actor’s soon-to-be cremated remains have a final home.
Gray, of Portland, Ore., is the latest claimant, having filed a 2005 will last Friday in a Utah court stating Coleman left Gray the bulk of his estate and requesting that his extensive model train collection go to hobby shops in California.
“Anna just wants to carry out Gary’s wishes,” her attorney Randy Kester tells PEOPLE. “Her will is the most objective reflection of what Gary wanted. We’re going to be in this case for the long haul.” Gray was a business associate of the actor’s for about eight years before living with him briefly in Utah, Kester adds.
It was Gray’s will that bumped Coleman’s former business manager Dion Mial, 46, out of the picture. Mial had filed a now-outdated copy of the actor’s will naming Mial as executor. “After seeing a copy of the 2005 document, it was clear we didn’t have a dog in this fight,” Mial’s attorney Kent Alderman said.
Meanwhile, Price, 24, still contends that despite her divorce from the actor, she was his common law wife and sole heir according to what she says is the actor’s handwritten 2007 will, written a week after they married.
“Nothing ever changed between Shannon and Gary,” her attorney Mitchell Maughan says. “They lived as husband and wife. For now, this is about who should care for Gary’s remains, that’s Shannon’s primary concern. Beyond that, there isn’t much to fight over in his estate, there wasn’t much left financially.”
The two women can at least agree on one issue: In both Price and Gray’s copy of the will, the actor requested to be cremated and that no funeral service be held, although he previously left bittersweet instructions for a funeral.
Cremation is expected to take place in the next few days. Price tells Entertainment Tonight she hopes to spread Gary s ashes around train tracks, adding, “I want to make sure I have an urn and a necklace with his ashes. That’s all I want.”
But a Utah judge ruled Monday that Gray will be allowed 48 hours to view Coleman’s body before it’s cremated. In the meantime, the judge appointed a third-party attorney to oversee the actor’s affairs. A trial to determine if Price was indeed Coleman’s common law wife – and therefore possibly in charge of his remains – is expected to take months.
“Shannon’s doing well, but it’s obviously hard for her as his wife to have people from his past coming out of the woodwork,” Maughan says. “Gary wanted to distance himself from all his past business managers as well as the media, so this is all upsetting to her, as it would be for anyone in her position.”