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Late Lakers' owner kept team in the family with a trust

Basketball fans in West Palm Beach have no doubt read or heard some of the recent tributes to Jerry Buss. The colorful owner of the Los Angeles Lakers died recently at the age of 80. Buss rose from very humble beginnings to pursue careers in aerospace and real estate before buying the Lakers and helping to transform the team into one of the most successful and valuable in the NBA. The many athletes and admirers who have eulogized Buss in recent days have praised his skills as an owner.

Less well reported has been Buss' skill in estate planning. Buss set up a trust to make sure that the Lakers remain in his family. Before he died, Buss set up a plan to put the ownership of the team in a trust. The trust gives his six children controlling ownership of the team, with his daughter Jeanie and son Jim heading the operation.

All six children have worked for the team in some capacity. According to the Lakers' spokesman, the six children are against selling the team, opting to keep the Lakers in the family.

Many families have assets they'd like to preserve for future generations. A trust can be a good way to keep these assets in the family without going through the costly and time-consuming probate process.

There are many different types of trusts and they can go into effect during a person's lifetime or after death, as part of a will. Two important categories of trusts are revocable and irrevocable trusts. A person who sets up a revocable trust can later change it or dissolve it. A person who sets up an irrevocable trust cannot. Each has its advantages.

Needless to say, few families have a real estate empire or sports franchise like the Buss family. However, many families have assets they would like to pass on to future generations. When set up properly, a trust helps preserve a family's assets for many years to come.

Source:, "Jerry Buss, Lakers' flamboyant owner, dies at 80," Greg Beacham, Feb. 18, 2013

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