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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Friday, November 30, 2018

Learning From Stan Lee’s Estate Planning Issues

How can I plan for my incapacity later in life?

Stan Lee, famed creator of Marvel Comics, recently passed away at the age of 95.  Lee, whose brilliant mind left a lasting worldwide legacy, was ill for the last year of his life.  Sadly, his later years were partly consumed by struggles with his caregivers, aids, and daughter.  Stan Lee lost his wife in July of 2017 and after that time, he began to issue accusations against his advisors and child.  Lee reported that over $1.4 million went missing from his bank accounts.  He also signed a document stating that his adult daughter spends excessively and attempted to take advantage of him.  Lee’s troubled last years have left an estate planning mess in the wake of his death.  While Lee’s estate will likely be tangled in litigation for some time to come, there are several takeaways from his saga that could help you to avoid similar estate planning issues.

Plan for Incapacity

Stan Lee learned that hard way that as you age, people may attempt to take advantage of your declining mental state.  It is unwise to put off making vital decisions as to how you want your affairs managed until you are already in a less than full state of mind.  Instead, you should plan for your potential incapacity as early as possible so that you can select a trusted person who will follow your wishes.

Without a plan in place as to your incapacity, the court will be charged with the task of appointing someone to oversee your financial and personal needs.  You can take control of the situation by taking the time now to create a durable power of attorney and health care proxy.  With these estate planning documents in place, you can designate an individual whom you trust to manage your financial affairs and make medical care decisions should the need arise.  You can always update or change these documents as needed at a later date.

Have a Stream Lined Estate Plan

It is unclear whether Mr. Lee had a will or trust in place, but it does appear he had several estate planning related documents swirling.  Now, the court will be forced to determine which documents are valid.  To avoid confusion over your estate plan, you should create one clear estate plan.  Place all estate planning documents in one place and be sure that any prior wills have been clearly revoked by subsequent wills.  Do not leave your estate plan to chance; get started creating a solid estate plan that will thoroughly protect your assets and heirs today.


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