SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The will of the late actor Sherman Hemsley was ruled valid on Friday in Texas, clearing the way for the star of “The Jeffersons” to be buried more than three months after his death, the lawyer who prepared the will said.
Hemsley, 74, died of lung cancer in Texas in July. His body has been held at an El Paso area funeral home while the courts ruled on a dispute between a Philadelphia relative of Hemsley and a friend named in his will.
It was not clear whether the relative, Richard Thornton, would appeal the ruling by a judge in El Paso. Thornton’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
“There is no question in my mind that this will clearly represented Mr. Hemsley’s intent,” attorney Julian Horwitz said on Friday.
Horwitz said he drafted the will at the request of Hemsley’s friend, Flora Enchinton-Bernal. The will lists Enchinton-Bernal as the executor and sole beneficiary of Hemsley’s estate, he said.
A veteran Broadway and television actor, Hemsley was best-known as the character George Jefferson on the Norman Lear sitcom “The Jeffersons” which ran from 1975 to 1985.
Horwitz said Enchinton-Bernal called him several weeks before Hemsley’s death and asked him to prepare the will, which he said the actor signed while at an El Paso hospital.
“I found him lucid and in full possession of his faculties and desirous of having a will,” Horwitz said of Hemsley.
Horwitz said Hemsley lived quietly in El Paso with Enchinton-Bernal and referred to her in the will as “my beloved partner.” He never married and had no children.
The Philadelphia-born Hemsley also guest-starred on numerous shows over the years, including “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
Reporting by Jim Forsyth; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh