While many of us were following the Donald Sterling brouhaha and waiting to see what, if anything, the NBA will be able to legally force him to do, the Glazer family patriarch passed away. For those who don’t know, the Glazer family has owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for years. The question is, from a legal and estate planning perspective, what happens to his beloved NFL franchise?
The immensely private family will likely stick to the same mindset they’ve built over the years: avoid publicity. What we do know, though, is that this is one team that’s not going on the market. They’ve many protective mechanisms in place, via proper estate planning, all of which guarantee the franchise stays in the family. Specifically, they’ve used succession planning to ensure future generations will share the same passion for the sport and love for the team. The elder Glazer had six children, all adults, with his wife, Linda. It’s not yet know which child, or children, will step up to the plate to take a visible and active role, but you can be sure the family made that decision long ago, especially considering three sons are co-chairmen. Keep in mind, too, this is not your typical estate planning effort. The family is said to have a net worth in the billions.
Succession planning is used in estate planning for those who want to make certain assets and property make an easy transition between generations. It allows specifics to be put into place regarding how the assets are managed, which, in this instance, is the football franchise. Ideally, every generation will appreciate the family property or asset as much as the previous and it’s an ideal vehicle for those hoping to ensure what he sees in 2014 will be what a future generation sees in 2064.
Because of the massive wealth of the Glazer family, simply passing the assets to a surviving spouse is not enough. As you may know, when you pass the lion’s share of an estate to your spouse, you can avoid federal taxes. But when the other spouse passes, there could be problems for the heirs who may struggle to cover the tax burden. Remember, too, the Glazer fortune didn’t evolve in Malcolm Glazer’s generation; he too inherited his family estate. That means there were already a host of estate planning tools in play, many of which are still likely in place. There could be countless trusts and financial vehicles at play. Depending on the terms, the family had to honor what was already there while continuing to build their brand.
Not only that, but the Bucs are worth far more today – as are most NFL teams. It’s little wonder team owners share one common denominator: each likely has his own succession plan in place, which better protects survivors against those massive estate planning taxes.
It’s unlikely the family ever left itself vulnerable, but the fact that the elder Glazer had a long documented illness, it’s probable those bases were revisited annually to ensure there remained no vulnerabilities in their overall estate plan.
In fact, it’s entirely likely ownership had already passed to his children, considering that’s exactly what he did in England. The family also owns Manchester United, an English soccer team, which was passed to a trust fund that have been controlled by his children for several years.
Most of us may never know what it feels to be worth billions of dollars, but it doesn’t negate the importance of proper estate planning. We’re here to help. Our experienced estate planning lawyers can help safeguard your own family’s assets, which when you think about it, can provide the same sense of peace that even the wealthiest families seek.