Down...Set...Plan! Serious Sports-Related Injuries Are on the Rise

As the 2012-2013 College Football Season has come to a close and the 2012-2013 NFL Season is one month away from its culmination, I thought it appropriate to provide a sports theme to today’s blog.  In today’s sports world, male and female athletes of all ages are bigger, faster and stronger.  This has resulted in an increase in traumatic injuries, most specifically, traumatic brain injuries (i.e. concussions).  From youth recreational sports to daily adult activities, these injuries are prevalent and for some, life altering.  For purposes of this blog, I am going to focus on individuals over the age of majority, i.e. 18 years or older.

When a parent sends an adult child to college, or to their weekly recreational sports game, I imagine it very rarely crosses anyone’s mind that the child likely does not have a financial power of attorney or medical directive in place.  For the last 18 weeks, many of us have enjoyed watching a weekly schedule of college and professional football.  Not one week goes by where there is not a vicious hit knocking someone unconscious.  This is the sports culture of today and it is not just prevalent in our most violent sports.  For example, look at baseball, which many people would argue is one of our most benign sports in terms of physical contact.  Just this past summer, Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive from a batter.  Thankfully, McCarthy is making a full recovery and will likely play a full season in 2013.   However, what if?  What if McCarthy was incapacitated from that line drive?  He is just 32 years old with a full lifetime ahead of him.  What if a college athlete in any sport was incapacitated after suffering an injury in their respective sport?  Or, what if a young adult was just outside playing a game of pickup basketball and got hurt?  These individuals are likely between the ages of 18-24.  Who is going to make financial and medical decisions for these individuals for possibly the rest of their lives?

Estate planning is not just for the elderly and the sick.  Everyone over the age of majority (i.e. 18 in Maryland), and especially those engaging in sports or risky behavior, should have plans in place should the unthinkable happen to them.  No parent wants to ever entertain the notion that their child could be injured and no parent likely thinks about having their college aged child execute a financial power of attorney or medical directive.  However, by having their adult children engage in proactive planning, they can rest assured that, should anything happen, the proper measures are in place.  Further, by engaging in the proper proactive planning, significant expense and legal action in court (i.e. adult guardianships) can be avoided.

As an aside, adults as well need to consider the above advice.  Many adults, myself included, stay active in adult sports leagues, regimented exercise, or other physical ventures.  Whether its weekend pickup football, swimming at your local pool, or riding a bicycle, adults have just as much, if not more, vulnerability to injury and must be mindful of having the proper estate planning documents in place should something incapacitating occur.

We at Altman & Associates strongly believe that everyone, big or small, young or old needs some form of estate plan.  Particularly, now more than ever before, our active adult youth (whether athletes or not) should be engaging in basic estate planning to ensure that someone is designated to make decisions for them in the event that they are traumatically injured.  In sports, as in life, that old adage “it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt” remains true.  Please plan accordingly!

-  Adam Abramowitz, Esq.

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