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Gary Coleman had a will; parents drop burial plans

The Associated Press, Friday, June 4, 2010, 5:02pm (PDT)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gary Coleman's estranged parents abandoned their effort to bury him in his native Illinois Friday after a Utah attorney revealed the actor named an executor in a 1999 will.

"Of course it's disappointing. We'd be inhuman if it wasn't, but we're not up for a fight," Coleman's mother, Sue Coleman, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We just want him finally put away to rest."

RELATED: Stars react to Gary's death

Gary Coleman died May 28 in Utah from a brain hemorrhage at age 42.

Salt Lake City Attorney Kent Alderman said he has a will Coleman wrote that he will take to a Utah County court sometime next week. The will was written before Coleman moved to Utah and met his future wife during filming for the 2006 comedy "Church Ball." Alderman wouldn't reveal details of the will, including the name of the executor, but said Coleman will not be buried this weekend.

"We will submit that for probate next week and find out if this is the last will. We believe it is. Nobody's come up with a more recent one," Alderman said.

Frederick Jackman, an attorney for Gary Coleman's parents, said the person named in the will is Dion Mial, a friend and former manager of the former child TV star. A message left at a listing for Mial in Las Vegas was not immediately returned Friday.

RELATED: In memoriam: Gary Coleman

Sue Coleman and husband Willie Coleman had been seeking to take custody of their son's body and return it to his boyhood home in Illinois once it was discovered this week that he had divorced wife Shannon Price in 2008. It was Price — who was named in an advanced health care directive — who ordered that Gary Coleman be taken off of life support.

His parents have said they learned about his hospitalization and death from media reports and they had wanted to reconcile with their son before his death.

"We know that we loved him. We know deep in his heart he loves us," Sue Coleman said Friday. "That's the way it is."

She said she wasn't aware of any funeral details outlined in the will and that she had not spoken with Mial in probably 20 years.

Randy Kester, a Utah defense attorney who has represented Gary Coleman in the past, has said the two discussed the need to meet and work on a will as recently as four or five weeks ago.

RELATED VIDEO: Gary Coleman dead at 42

Gary Coleman's parents had been preparing to go to court, but Jackman said that's no longer the case because they had seen a copy of the will naming Mial as its beneficiary. "The Colemans from the start simply wanted to do what he wanted to have done," Jackman said.

In 1989, when Gary Coleman was 21, his mother filed a court request trying to gain control of her son's $6 million fortune, saying he was incapable of handling his affairs. The move "obviously stems from her frustration at not being able to control my life," he said.

Gary Coleman's career took a considerable nose dive in the late 1980s and it never recovered. It's unclear how much his estate is worth now, but his Santaquin home in a middle class neighborhood about 65 miles south of Salt Lake City is valued at about $315,000, according to Utah County property tax records.

Shielia Erickson, a representative for Price, said she is grateful the Colemans have backed off.

"That's all we wanted to do is fill Gary's wishes," she said.

RELATED: Read more about Gary Coleman

He is originally from Zion, Ill., a small town about 50 miles north of Chicago near the Wisconsin border.

Gary Coleman starred for eight seasons on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," starting in 1978. The tiny 10-year-old's "Whachu talkin' 'bout?" was a staple in the show about two African-

American brothers adopted by a wealthy white man. He played Arnold Jackson, the younger of the two brothers.

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