McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

Avoiding celebrities' estate planning errors

Many people in Arizona admire the artistry and creativity of former Marvel chairman Stan Lee, the co-creator of Captain America and Spider-Man. However, after the 95-year-old Lee passed away, experts are urging people not to follow in his footsteps when it comes to estate planning. It is not clear whether Lee left behind any estate documents, although he is survived by his 68-year-old daughter. He is not alone; a number of celebrities with substantial estates, like Prince and Aretha Franklin, have also died without specifying how their assets should be distributed.

Some worry that people could come forward presenting documents as authentic wills on Lee's behalf. Over the years, he worked with a number of lawyers and financial advisors. However, he accused some of them of betraying his trust and putting their own interests first. Estate planning can be a challenging process, and many people don't like to think about death. However, preparing for the future can save money, time and significant emotional pain later down the road.

One problem that can emerge is that people often become poorly equipped to handle estate matters just when it is most urgent to complete these documents. Cognitive decline can accompany very advanced age or serious illness, and people may be more vulnerable to manipulators. On the other hand, they may also alienate trustworthy friends and family. If they had an estate plan in place from their younger, healthier years, they and their loved ones could have better peace of mind.

Once an estate plan has been made, it is important to make sure that these documents reflect a person's current wishes. An estate planning attorney may be able to draft key documents like wills, trusts and powers of attorney and work with a client to develop a plan to update these documents with major life changes.

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