"Diff'rent Strokes" actor Gary Coleman died in 2010 at the age of 42. While it was commonly believed that Coleman died with little or no money, nearly two years later, two women are battling over his estate.
In a court in Provo, Utah, Coleman's ex-wife, Shannon Price, asked a judge for Coleman's estate. Several facts complicate her request. First, she and Coleman were divorced in 2008, though they continued to live together. And second, Coleman named a different woman, his ex-girlfriend Anna Gray, as the beneficiary of his estate in 2005.
So, if Coleman died nearly broke (he auctioned off a pair of his pants on eBay to help pay his medical bills), then why are the women fighting over his estate? According to ABC News, the fight isn't necessarily as much over Coleman's assets as it is over intellectual property, book rights, movie rights, and Coleman's likeness.
Gray's then-attorney spoke to ABC News several years ago and said, "It's not just his present assets anybody is fighting over. It's a survivor death benefit that Ms. Price has already grabbed, potential book deals and movie rights. His present assets pale significantly in comparison to what may be garnered. It could potentially be millions." Gray is currently representing herself in court.
At the trial on Monday, Price's attorney, Mitchell Maughan, echoed that sentiment, saying that future rights to Coleman's likeness and name were the trial's real focus.
The case is expected to continue and possibly conclude on Tuesday. As the Salt Lake Tribune explains, the judge's decision will likely hinge on "whether Coleman and his former spouse, Shannon Price, continued living as husband and wife even after their 2008 divorce until Coleman's death on May 28, 2010."
Price contends that even though Gray was named as beneficiary, Coleman signed an amendment that awarded Price his assets. But (there are a lot of buts in this case) some wonder if that amendment is valid given that Coleman and Price were technically divorced.