Legal experts say that the untimely death of former Enron founder and chairman Kenneth L. Lay, prior to his being sentenced to prison for his role in the massive collapse of Enron, could possibly save his family's assets from creditors, though it is hard to assign an exact dollar-figure to those assets.

Lay, who rose from humble roots to found what was, at its height, the seventh-largest publicly traded company in Enron, only to later become a symbol of corporate greed and malfeasance, died of a heart attack at his vacation home in Aspen, Colo., on July 5. He was 64.

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