Invincible on the Pitch – But Even Elite Athletes Must Plan Ahead

22nd December 2021 Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

After 786 senior games, 427 senior goals, and THAT Iconic goal in 2012, Sergio Leonel Agüero del Castillo, better known as Kun Agüero, has called time on his illustrious football playing career at the relatively young age of 33. 

Whilst some footballers retire at any early age to move into coaching, for a change of career or simply decide the lifestyle is not for them, this was not the case for Aguero. 

Aguero had recently transferred from Manchester City, having spent over a decade at the peak of English football, to the Spanish giant Barcelona on a two year contract to fill the void of the departing Lionel Messi. 

For Aguero this was to be the next chapter at the highest level of football. This did not however go to plan as on October 30th 2021 in a match against Alavas, he was treated on the field after experiencing chest pain and dizziness before being substituted at half-time.

After weeks of testing Aguero was advised to retire based on medical advice due to a heart condition. Aguero officially retired on the 15th December 2021. 

The reality is that he is one of a number of high profile athletes, including many top level footballers, who have abruptly retired from competitive sport due to potentially life threatening conditions. 

The football world was rocked in June 2021 as millions watched on as Christian Eriksen, 29 year old talisman of the Danish national team, suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during his nation’s Euro 2020 match against Finland.  As of 15th December 2021 Eriksen has not played any further matches. 

As recently as 11th December 2021, in a top flight Premier league football match between Manchester United and Norwich, 27 year old Manchester United Defender Victor Lindelof suffered chest pains whilst on the pitch. He fell to the ground and was assisted off the pitch by medics clutching his chest. Lindelof is currently undergoing testing and has been wearing a heart monitor in the interim. 

When considering the fitness levels of top level footballers, and the incidents the above footballers have suffered, it is important to contextualise against the general public. A VO2 max score refers to a person’s maximal rate of oxygen consumption and is regarded as reflecting their aerobic physical fitness. The maximum score for an average man is generally between 35-40ml, whereas for an elite footballer a score of 60-70ml is normal. Body fat percentage amongst the male population of the UK the average is 25-30%. Top footballers will tend to measure between 6-10%.

No matter your level of fitness, an underlying medical condition can strike at any time as the above examples all too soberingly show. 

Estate Planning

Without sufficient estate planning in place to account for the worst that may strike, anyone – athlete’s included - could be left leaving their estate to be dealt with under the “intestacy” rules. 

A few of the common issues encountered within the intestacy rules are laid out below:

  • A partner who wasn't married or in a civil partnership with the deceased at the time of death has no automatic right to inherit.
  • Stepchildren cannot inherit 
  • A married spouse does not automatically inherit the whole estate.
  • Children inherit at age 18, which is often considered inappropriately young.
  • Inheritance tax is potentially payable on the first death of a married couple, rather than on the second death alone.

Additionally, dying intestate can cause a substantially higher liability to inheritance tax than a well planned estate. For example if a person in an unmarried couple with no children dies, for any of their estate valued over £325,000, the tax rate is 40%. 

JMW’s Wills, trusts and estate planning team are experts in helping people to set up their Wills and plan their estates effectively for their loved ones in the event of an unexpected incident.

Should you require any information on Wills, or to speak to a solicitor about creating a Will or any estate planning enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team. 

 

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Stewart Campbell is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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