Bill Sanderson Comments on Tax Liability of Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee’s Estate

November 27, 2018

Determining the tax liability of the estate of Stan Lee, the legendary co-creator of several Marvel Comics superheroes, could be as bizarre as any comic book tale, according to a Bloomberg story that quotes McGuireWoods partner Bill Sanderson.

Lawsuits in which Lee was involved before his Nov. 12 death at age 95 could complicate efforts to assess his estate’s value in the nine months allowed after his death to file a tax return. One of the lawsuits Lee filed alleges his former publicist took millions of dollars from his bank accounts and schemed to steal his blood and sell it to collectors.

That lawsuit will continue, the story says, with an estate representative replacing Lee as the plaintiff. And that’s where things get tricky, said Sanderson, co-chair of the firm’s nationally renowned private wealth services group. With the lead witness now deceased, he noted, the estate must prove that Lee was an unwilling participant in transactions alleged in his complaint, many of which occurred behind closed doors.

“People that will continue this action will have to prove a lot of things that are intimate and of a very personal nature,” Sanderson said. “That’s going to be difficult.”

Also, the value of the damages Lee seeks are speculative, he added, because Lee’s suit seeks “an amount to be proven at trial.”