Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Happened To NFL Player Sean Taylor's Mother When He Died Without A Will And Left Entire $5.7 Million Estate To 18 Month Old Daughter?

An article in the September 30, 2009 Washington Post regarding the death of young NFL Redskin player Sean Taylor reminds us what can happen when someone dies without a will or any type of estate plan.

Sean Taylor was a first-round pick in the 2004 draft, signed a seven-year $18 million contract with the Washington Redskins, and became the team's starting free safety after the third game of the season. He quickly gained a reputation as an outstanding athlete, and in 2006 was named to the 2007 Pro Bowl. He was young and probably did not think about estate planning.

Sean Taylor helped support his mother Donna Junor, and bought her a home. On November 26, 2007, a terrible tragedy happened when an armed intruder broke into Taylor's Florida home and shot the football player in his leg. The bullet struck his femoral artery and, despite several hours of surgery, Taylor died at the hospital on November 27. He never regained consciousness.

Taylor died without a will, and Taylor was not married. Most of Taylor's $5.8 million estate went to his 18-month old daughter (now 3) who lives with her mother. His father took possession of the contents of a $328,000 joint account that he shared with the football player, and Taylor's sister received the proceeds of a $650,000 life insurance policy. His mother, however, received nothing. Nor did his grandmother, great-grandmother, two of his half-siblings or any of the cousins or relatives who had grown accustomed to his financial assistance.

According to the article, Taylor's mother was left with possessions that carry costs and fees that she says exceed her income as a substitute teacher since she cannot find a full-time job. She could not pay the real-estate taxes last year on the townhouse she bought in 2005 with the $222,000 her son had given her. Another tax bill is due at the end of November. Taylor's mother said she doesn't have any of his memorabilia, either. All of it either was auctioned to raise money for the estate, or, she says, collected by Taylor's father or the mother of his daughter.

Taylor sister was quoted in the article stating that she understood the frustration over the way her late brother's assets were distributed since she thought he would have wanted it to be different. The article can be found at:

Attorney Comment: The article painted a picture of financial hardship for the mother and it is hard to say whether anyone should feel sorry for her or not. Nevertheless, the article is a reminder of the necessity for planning especially when there are assets and family members who you want to provide for in the future. It certainly is not wise for the daughter to have access to the entire estate when she turns 18 years' old. Nor does it seem like it would have been Taylor's plan to leave his mother nothing from his estate.

However, it is clear that Taylor could have better protected himself, his daughter, his mother, his family, and his assets by making an investment in his estate plan before his untimely death. It is a reminder for all of us to take the time and energy to engage in estate planning.

Posted by Henry Moravec, III. Any questions or comments should be directed to: hm@moravecslaw.com or (626) 793-3210. The firm website is http://www.moravecslaw.com/