Gary Coleman's Parents Vs. Ex Wife: Who Decides End of Life?


In a shocking revelation today, Gary Coleman’s former lawyer admitted that Shannon Price, the 24-year-old woman who was with Coleman at the time of his death, was no longer his wife. The couple was divorced in 2008, according to attorney Randy Kester.

The reason this matters is that Price identified herself as his wife when she gave doctors and administrators permission to terminate Coleman’s life support last Friday, two days after the actor suffered a brain hemmorage in his home. Price’s action raises eyebrows about why she misrepresented herself to hospital officials, and the State Medical Examiner’s office is now investigating. If she was not legally his wife, it isn’t clear that she had the authority to make the call to end life-support.

The question is, if not her, than who?Coleman has been estranged from his parents for 15 years, so it is unlikely that Coleman had given them any legal authority, through health proxy documents or a living will, to intervene in the event of a health crisis. In the absence of having any documents at all, the question of who has authority—his estranged parents or his ex-wife—is a tricky one.

“We’re looking into what exactly happened here,” said Janet Frank, spokeswoman for the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center . “Shannon certainly portrayed herself as his wife to our staff and doctors. We assumed she was telling the truth.”

Coleman’s parents are withholding judgment—for now. “It’s too early for us to comment on this,” Sue Coleman told People. “Of course we’re concerned, but we need to find out more information.”

If it turns out what Shannon Price acted without legal authority, I wouldn’t think we’ve heard the last of this.

And on a final note: living wills. No one thinks they’ll need one. But everyone should have one.