Sherman Hemsley's death spurs will contest

California residents may be interested to know that the court battle over the final wishes of Hollywood personality and beloved actor Sherman Hemsley took a rather bizarre twist as a judge ordered a man claiming to be the actor's brother to undergo a DNA test. Hemsley succumbed to lung cancer in July of this year. Currently, his body remains at a funeral home as the dispute over his will continues.

Hemsley left a will, allegedly created and signed six weeks prior to his death, giving his entire estate to his longtime manager and friend. However, a man from Philadelphia, Hemsley's original birthplace, has claimed that he is Hemsley's brother and believes the actor may not have created the will.

It is unclear upon what grounds the brother is contesting the will, or if he has valid claims to support his theory. The rules for the creation of a will vary from state to state, but a will can be invalidated either for the lack of some procedural requirement or if the will's creator lacked testamentary capacity at the time of the will's creation.

If the judge rules the will is in fact invalid, Hemsley's estate would likely go to probate, meaning that, since he had no marital partner or surviving heirs, Hemsley's next of kin would become the beneficiary of his estate.

Right now, however, the issue is whether the man can actually prove, via DNA test, that he is actually Hemsley's brother and that he has standing to contest the will. The court will reconvene on the issue later this month, so stay tuned to the blog for more information.

Source:, "DNA Test Ordered in Dispute Over Sherman Hemsley's Will," Sept. 25, 2012

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