Fans of Marvel comics and movies may have been saddened to hear of the passing of Marvel creator, Stan Lee at age 95. However, residents of Colorado can learn important estate planning lessons from Lee's passing. This is because it is not known whether he had executed any estate planning documents in light of the complicated relationships he had in his late years.
Lee claimed that funds from his bank accounts were used without his authorization to purchase a condominium. He executed a signed document that he later took back claiming his daughter was a spendthrift, was emotionally abusive and intended to take advantage of him. In addition, in his final years, he hired new lawyers and business managers. Lee was also ill in the last year of his life. This illness and the accusations of stolen funds combined with the allegations against his daughter, the possible lack of a will or trust and the abrupt change in legal and financial representatives could possibly lead to estate litigation.
Of course, time will tell how the administration of Lee's estate will unfold. However, there are some lessons to be learned from his situation. First, it is important to execute an estate plan sooner rather than later. If a person waits until their old age to execute a will or trust, it could be claimed that they were incompetent or coerced into doing so, which could invalidate these documents. In addition, when planning one's estate, a person should explain their choices to their heirs. That way, they know what to expect and there will be no surprises. Estate planning documents should also be reviewed periodically to ensure they still meet a person's wishes.
With a well-drafted, comprehensive estate plan in place, people in Colorado and elsewhere can rest assured that their estate will be passed on to their chosen heirs with little possibility of estate litigation. Moreover, when heirs know what their loved one's intentions are regarding estate planning, they can better accept their loved one's choices. This could lead to less stress for all involved, especially in the difficult weeks and months following a loved one's death.