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Lessons from Gary Coleman's Estate

Posted by attorney Wendy Alton

Who has the authority to make funeral and burial arrangements for the recently deceased Gary Coleman? His parents or his ex-wife who had medical power of attorney?


A 1999 Will was recently found, and in this Will, Gary Coleman nominated his former manager, Dion Mail, as the Executor of his probate estate, which means that he, as executor, also has the authority to make funeral and burial arrangements.

People often think that if they have a power of attorney in place, or a medical power of attorney, then that person is the one who is responsible for making burial and funeral arrangements. Some people even believe that the spouse or parents have the right to do so in any circumstances.

However, it is the Executor, or the Personal Representative of the Estate that has the authority to make the funeral and burial arrangements. The Executor or Personal Representative is nominated in a person’s Will.

It is extremely important to make sure that your Will is up to date, and nominates the right person for the position of Executor or Personal Representative. It is advisable to frequently review your Will to make sure that you keep your nominations and wishes up to date.

We will never know if Gary Coleman still intended to make his former manager the person responsible for making the funeral and burial arrangements. What we do know is that he nominated him to do just that in a Will drafted in 1999. With no other revisions to that Will or new Wills, that is the decision that stands, and that is the decision the Courts will enforce.

Additional resources provided by the author

you are interested in learning more, please call Wendy Alton at 734-665-4441 or email her at More information about her firm, Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C., can be found here:

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