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Gary Coleman funeral plan 'pending' as executor takes over

By Alan Duke, CNN
Actor Gary Coleman was divorced from Shannon Price in 2008.
Actor Gary Coleman was divorced from Shannon Price in 2008.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Executor says ex-wife has no authority on Coleman matters
  • Coleman funeral plans "pending"
  • Coleman parents drop bid for son's remains
  • Sue and Willie Coleman reviewed Coleman's will before making decision
  • Coleman's remains currently at Sandy, Utah, mortuary

(CNN) -- Funeral plans for Gary Coleman are "pending" more than a week after his death, but his parents have dropped their bid to have the actor's body returned to Chicago for burial, the man named as executor of his estate said Saturday.

Coleman's ex-wife Shannon Price had previously announced a weekend service for Coleman, who died over a week ago after a fall at his Utah home.

Price "has absolutely no rights or authority, with regard to the disposition of Gary's remains, services, estate management," said Dion Mial, Coleman longtime friend and former manager.

"Plans for any services are pending, at this time," Mial said.

Coleman's will, which has been reviewed by his parents and their lawyer, named Mial to oversee his estate, Mial and a spokesman for his parents said.

"I am humbled by Gary's confidence in me and by his fearless friendship," Mial said in a statement sent to CNN Saturday. "My life is transformed, because of his distinct presence in it."

Sue and Willie Coleman made the decision to drop their efforts after reviewing copies of Coleman's will and other trust documents provided by attorneys in Utah, where Coleman lived with his former wife, Shannon Price, until his death last week.

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"From the start, Mr. and Mrs. Coleman's intention has been to see that Gary's wishes be honored and that his affairs be taken care of properly," attorney Frederick Jackson said in a statement. "They wanted to do things the right way, and they urge those still involved to do the same. The Colemans ask that everyone please treat Gary with respect and kindness. They feel it is time for him to find peace and let his spirit go."

Coleman's relationship with his parents was strained since he successfully sued them 20 years ago for $1 million, claiming they squandered his earnings as a child actor.

Mial became Coleman's manager when he fired his parents. Mial was a close companion of Coleman when he was a child actor on "Diff'rent Strokes."

"Not only am I saying goodbye to a friend, but I'm saying goodbye to my brother," Mial said. "I will not allow my selfish grief to eclipse the unspeakable joy that Gary brought to me and to my family for the last 32 years. I'm as equally and passionately committed to honor his memory, as I was always so committed to his destiny in life."

The body of the 42-year-old actor, who died last Friday of a brain hemorrhage in a Provo, Utah, hospital, is now at Lake Hill Mortuary in Sandy, Utah.

The legal department at the mortuary's parent company -- Memorial Mortuaries -- told CNN it has control of Coleman's remains until legal documents are presented showing who has authority over them.

Coleman and Price divorced in 2008, but they were living together in Santaquin, Utah, when he suffered the fall, which proved fatal.

Price, 24, had the legal authority to authorize his doctor to disconnect his life support, the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo said.

"Mr. Coleman had completed an Advanced Health Care Directive that granted Shannon Price permission to make medical decisions on his behalf if he was unable to do so," said the hospital statement, which Price authorized.

The document was in effect when the decision to remove Coleman from life support was made last Friday, the hospital said.

"An Advanced Health Care Directive remains in effect regardless of a patient's marital status, unless modified by the patient," the hospital statement said.

Coleman suffered a brain hemorrhage after he fell at his home on Wednesday, May 26. He died two days later, after he was removed from life support, a hospital spokeswoman said.

While he appeared "lucid and conscious" Thursday morning, his condition worsened by the afternoon, leaving him unconscious and on life support, she said.

Coleman is best known as the wisecracking youngster Arnold on TV's "Diff'rent Strokes" from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

"There was a touch of magic and a different stroke in Gary Coleman," said TV legend Norman Lear, who produced the show. "He was the inspiration behind his show's title."

CNN's Brittany Kaplan and Jack Hannah contributed to this report.