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Sports Team Ownership Controversy Makes Case for Estate Planning

Estate planning is something to be handled now so that you know your legacy and assets are distributed according to your wishes later in life. While many estates are planned and administered with little controversy, it’s also true that some decisions made by individuals are not popular with their heirs.

A current news story involving the ownership of a professional football team illustrates this fact. The owner of the Saints football team is 87 years old. The man’s heirs include a daughter and two adult grandchildren; many people assumed they would inherit the football dynasty upon the owner’s death.

The man has been married for the past 10 years to a woman he now says will inherit the team. According to the man, his wife is actively involved with the team, management and the league. While the owner has not been specific in news statements regarding why he might shut out his daughter and grandchildren, news reports regarding court filings indicate he might be concerned about their ability to manage the team.

Not surprisingly, the daughter and grandchildren are fighting the change in estate plan. They have filed legal documents to challenge the owner’s mental state; if the court declares him incompetent, it could invalidate any changes he makes to wills or other estate documents.

While this story is obviously on a larger scale than most people will deal with, it illustrates several important estate planning points. First, your assets are yours to distribute as you like, and an estate plan lets you do so. Second, your decisions won’t always be popular, so making a plan early when you are less likely to be challenged may be beneficial.

Source: ABC News, “Benson defends call to shut out heirs,” Mike Triplett, March. 24, 2015

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