Connecticut fans of Stan Lee’s work may know the former Marvel chairman for his role in co-creating iconic characters like Captain America and Spider-Man. However, after he passed away in November 2018, he also became known for leaving his estate in disarray. Like other prominent celebrities including Prince and Aretha Franklin, Lee may have died without a making a will. When a person passes without making an estate plan, the consequences can be complex for the loved ones left behind, especially when the estate is substantial, involving ongoing revenues and royalties.
Lee, who died at the age of 95, left behind one 68-year-old daughter. His wife passed away before he did, in July 2017, after almost 70 years of marriage. One of the complex elements of Lee’s estate is the potential that a previous lawyer or business partner will come forward to seek to validate a will or other estate document created years before. Lee worked with many professionals throughout his life, but he often came into conflict with them over the years and accused some of mishandling his money.
Lee’s case also highlights another concern about people who do not create an estate plan while they are still young and healthy. Advanced age and severe illness can be accompanied by cognitive decline. As people are less able to fully understand their surroundings and manage their assets, they may be more vulnerable to scammers. They could also find themselves distrusting even long-term confidantes.
Establishing a plan for the future early on may help individuals avoid some of these issues as well as the lengthy probate process that can ensue when someone with substantial assets passes without a will. An estate planning attorney may help clients create key documents that reflect their wishes for the future.