The SafeEstates Blog

Let’s See That Marvel-ous Estate Plan

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee died November 10, 2018 in Los Angeles at age 95. His financial legacy for co-creating Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Black Panther and other iconic characters is an estate valued at more than $50 million and an ongoing income stream from his past and pending creations. Hopefully you enjoyed his comic books and the movies they inspired.
Marvel fans eagerly await the January 2019 return of comic series,Guardians of the Galaxy , which continues the plot from Infinity Wars’ Thanos Legacy . In the most recent episode, Eros cut a last will and testament out of Thanos’ dead body. The wait for the reading of the will eerily parallels Mr. Lee’s personal affairs.
Early reports indicate Mr. Lee may have had memory, hearing and vision impairments. Regrettably, some of those close to him may have manipulated Mr. Lee to gain control of his assets. In his later years, he worked with many business managers, switching frequently without finding his ideal trusted advisor. In 2017 Mr. Lee reported more than $1 million was missing from his accounts.
Mr. Lee’s wife of nearly 70 years, Joan Lee, died in July 2017. He is survived by his 68-year old daughter, J. C. Lee. It has not been determined whether Mr. Lee had a valid will or trust in place at his death. There may be numerous swirling documents in the hands of his past business managers for the probate court to review and interpret.
There are several lessons in the Stan Lee estate for all of us. As we age, consolidation of our financial accounts can provide a simpler, easier to manage balance sheet. Do you really need more than one checking account? More than one IRA? CDs at every bank in town? If you still have paper stock certificates in publicly traded companies, exchange them for digital certificates before you misplace them. Second, implementation of a living trust may provide better protection from elder financial abuse. There are several living trust options available today designed specifically to provide a smooth glide path through the transitions of incapacity and death. Living trusts can provide asset protection, capital gains tax protection, long-term care protection, and other benefits. Third, selection of trustees and other fiduciaries is critical to successful estate planning. Why are you picking this person? Although many of our clients have trustworthy family members and friends, when in doubt we recommend using a professional, independent trustee or co-trustees, investment advisors and trust protectors.