It’s going to take more than a super hero to unravel the mess that Stan Lee left behind.
The passing of Stan Lee, famed Marvel Comics publisher and chairman, was sad for his legions of fans. For his 68-year-old daughter J.C., there’s grief and a challenging estate to be settled. His last years were hard, with ill health, the passing of his wife of nearly 70 years and accusations of sexual harassment from nurses and home aides.
In addition, Lee reportedly said that $1.4 million dollars was missing from his bank accounts and that a large chunk of the money had been used to purchase a condo.
MarketWatch’s recent article, “Stan Lee’s tangled web of estate planning and how to avoid it in your own life,” reports that Lee had also hired and fired several business managers and attorneys in this time.
“I learned later on in life, you need advisors, if you’re making any money at all,” he told the Daily Beast in a 2018 interview. He also remarked that he’d done much of his own money management at the start of his career.
“But then, a little money started coming in, and I realized I needed help. And I needed people I could trust. And I had made some big mistakes. And my first bunch of people were people that I shouldn’t have trusted.”
It’s not known at this point if Lee had a will or any trusts in place. If he did not, then he’s joining other late celebrities like performers Aretha Franklin and Prince who failed to draft these documents. As a result, their heirs and potential beneficiaries have had to go to court to straighten things out.
Keeping track of an estate plan can become harder as a person ages, because he or she could suffer cognitive decline, or a professional or family member may think he or she is suffering from this. Stan Lee was the subject of this type of inquiry: in February, he signed a document declaring that his daughter spent too much money, yelled at him, and befriended three men who wanted to take advantage of him, the Hollywood Reporter reported. However, a few days later, Lee took it back.
Seniors can become less confident in what they’re doing, and they are more susceptible to the influence of others who may not have the best of intentions. However, you can easily create an estate plan with which you’re comfortable with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.
A big rat’s nest that will need to be addressed by Lee’s daughter who will be dealing with the many business documents that may be floating around from his current and past business managers and attorneys. To avoid this, work with an estate planning attorney and ask some specific questions, such as:
- How do we organize and simplify my assets?
- Will we need a trust and how will it be managed?
- How will you coordinate with my executor and/or attorney-in-fact while I’m well and after I’m sick or gone?
- How do you determine cognitive decline in an individual? What would you do if you believed my ability to answer questions and manage my funds was diminished? What would you do once you’ve made this decision?
- How often will we review my beneficiary designations and estate planning documents?
- How should we coordinate a team of financial and legal professionals to make sure all are working towards the same goals?
- How much or how little information about my estate should be discussed with family members?
Reference: MarketWatch (November 17, 2018) “Stan Lee’s tangled web of estate planning and how to avoid it in your own life”