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Stan Lee's estate was mired in conflict before his death

Even though he lived to the ripe old age of 95, fans around the world were still devastated by the death of Stan Lee in Los Angeles earlier this month. As one of the creators of X-Men, Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk and the Marvel Universe, Lee's fortune at the time of his death was estimated to be anywhere from $50 million to $80 million. His surviving family members are his daughter and a brother.

However, the battle over his estate started while he was still alive -- and it was a public one. Lee's daughter, known as JC, appears to be at the center of it.

Earlier this year, Lee filed a declaration stating that he and his wife, who predeceased him, had supported their daughter well into adulthood. He said that she "had trouble supporting herself and often overspent." He said that her monthly credit card bills could run as high as $40,000. Lee noted that no matter how much money he and her mother gave her, "she has always demanded more, more, more...."

Further, Lee accused his daughter of demanding that he give her some of the family's homes. He also said that she demanded that he not make any changes to his estate plan without a review by her and her attorneys.

Just what authority JC Lee has over her father's estate is uncertain. His declaration said that she had no fiduciary capacity regarding any of his estate documents except his health care power of attorney. It's not known whether the estate has gone to probate yet here in LA, how it is being divided between his living family members and others and whether the terms will be disputed.

Sometimes, there's no way to guarantee that a disgruntled family member won't dispute an estate plan -- no matter how meticulously the documents are drafted. However, Californians can take steps, with the guidance of their estate planning attorneys, to minimize conflicts over their estates after they're gone.

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