PROVO, Utah - A Utah judge yesterday ordered that Gary Coleman's remains be cremated no sooner than tomorrow afternoon, so Coleman's ex-girlfriend has enough time to travel from Oregon to Utah to see his body.
Judge James Taylor appointed an independent attorney to oversee Coleman's property and the cremation of his remains until a dispute between the actor's ex-wife and ex-girlfriend is settled.
The court named Provo attorney Robert Jeffs the special administrator of Coleman's estate. Jeffs said Coleman's ashes and property will be securely stored until a final determination is made on an estate executor.
Coleman died May 28, but his cremation has been on hold because of legal wrangling over his assets, which include a Utah home valued in property-tax records at $315,000 and a collection of toy trains. Coleman's ex-wife, Shannon Price, and his former girlfriend and manager, Anna Gray, both contend they are the lawful administrators of his estate.
Gray is named in a 2005 will, and the judge delayed Coleman's cremation so Gray could travel to Utah from Portland, Ore., and see his body before it is cremated.
"She's attached to him. She cared about him. She just wants to see him again," said Gray's attorney, Randy Kester.
Kester said Gray moved to Utah and lived with Coleman briefly before Coleman and Price became romantically involved in 2005 on the set of the comedy "Church Ball."
Price declined to comment yesterday. She is named in a 2007 handwritten note by Coleman that is intended to amend any earlier wills. The note names Price as the sole heir.
Named in no wills, Coleman's estranged parents, Sue and Willie Coleman, said they would not seek to make their son's funeral arrangements.
Their attorney, Frederick Jackman, said the couple did not ask the judge to let them see their son before he is cremated.
"They want Gary to rest. That's all they want. I think they feel like if they came out here it would create 'activity,' " Jackman said. "Their son is gone. They just want him left alone."
Price and Gray each say they should be responsible for administering the estate of the "Diff'rent Strokes" star.
Price's attorneys contend she is the rightful heir to Coleman's estate because even though the two divorced in 2008, she was still his common-law wife.
A court filing by Kester said Gray has been informed that Price has been removing personal property from Coleman's home.
On June 10, the Fourth District Court ordered that no more of Coleman's property be removed or sold. The court also prohibited any of the parties from selling or distributing photographs of Coleman before or after his death.
Price appeared in a picture with Coleman on his death bed on the cover of a tabloid June 8.
Coleman starred for eight seasons on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," starting in 1978. The 10-year-old's "Whachu talkin' 'bout?" became a catch phrase in the show about two African-American brothers adopted by a wealthy white man.