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Texas probate judge orders DNA test in Hemsley dispute

A probate judge in Texas has ordered a DNA test as a part of the attempt to try to settle an ongoing dispute over Jeffersons star Sherman Hemsley’s estate. The actor passed away from lung cancer this past July but has not been buried yet due to the conflict over his will. His body is being held in a funeral home in El Paso while a judge continues to hear arguments over who is the rightful beneficiary of his will.

The conflict is between his former manager and a man who claims to be Hemsley’s brother. The will left his modest estate to his former manager, but the man who says he is Hemsley’s brother is arguing that the will is not valid. Last week, a probate court judge ordered that the man who says he is the actor’s brother must submit DNA test results.

The test results are due in mid-October, and a trial over the estate will start at the end of the month.

For Texas residents who do not have children or who are choosing to leave their assets to several different friends or family members, these types of issues are very relevant. It is not uncommon for family members who were not mentioned in the will or other estate planning documents to argue that the will was not valid or to present alternative documentation supporting their right to a portion of the assets. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to have a thorough estate plan and to properly document any changes in a way that is clear an authoritative.

Source: New York Times, “Judge Orders DNA Test in Dispute Over ‘Jeffersons’ Star Hemsley’s Estate,” Dave Itzkoff, Sept 25, 2012.