By: K. Eli Akhavan, Esq., Evan Bloom, Esq., Jonathan Shenkman, MBA,Martin M. Shenkman, Esq. Ben Utecht, and Eido M. Walny, Esq.1


The professionalathlete needsthe same sound foundation of financial and estate planning that all wealthyclientsrequire. However, theprofessional athletetypicallyfaces manyunique circumstances that must be integrated into the planning process. Movie stars, musicians, entertainers, and others with “star” power encounter some of the challenges common to athletes, so that the applicability of some of the planning ideas discussed here will be broader than merely for athlete clients. 

 There is potentially an important time pressure to planning for pro athletes that might require quick action. If the political balance of power changes in Washington in 2020, a Democratic administration might enact restrictive estate tax changes similar to that proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders in the Senate and Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) in the House. These bills reduce the gift tax exemption to $1 million and the estate tax exemption to $3.5 million. Discounts, GRATs, grantor trusts and GST planning may all be severely restricted. Thus, for athletes that have already amassed substantial wealth, planning should proceed before those changes might occur. 

Athlete Special Circumstances

The professional athlete mayface any, or all,of the following circumstances whichpractitioners need to consider:

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