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Actor's body put on ice due to will dispute

Probate disputes can get pretty personal, but they don't often involve disputes over what to do with the estate owner's body. That is the case presently with the estate of Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played the curmudgeonly George Jefferson on the television series "All in the Family" and its spinoff "The Jeffersons."

Hemsley's body was recently ordered to be placed in a freezer at a Funeral Home in San Jose after his a man claiming to be his brother contested him will, requesting his possessions and remains. According to Thornton, the will was not written up by Hemsley.

Hemsley's will was signed in June, six months before his death, and lists Flora Enchington of El Paso as his executrix of his estate and sole heir to all his holdings, which are estimated to be at more than $50,000. The will refers to Echington as his "beloved partner."

Echington claims to have known Hemsley for 20 years and to have lived with him for over 10 years in El Paso. She says she was Hemsley's manager, partner, and closest friend. She claims that she never heard anything about Richard Thornton in her 20 years with Hemsley, and there is reportedly no biographical information existing which states that Hemsley had a brother. He is reportedly listed as an only child.

Sources didn't provide any details about Thornton's claims, but noted that Echington believes the man is simply an opportunist. In any case, a decision is expected to be reached by September 24, at which time it is hoped Hemsley's body will be laid to rest.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Will Dispute Puts Sherman Hemsley on Ice," August 31, 2012.

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