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Al Davis' Oakland Raiders and federal estate tax issues

Al Davis, one of the great thorns in the side of the National Football League, died Saturday. He helped change not only how the game was played on the field, but also how teams approach the business side of football.

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died at the age of 82 on October 8, 2011 it was announced by the team. The football legend won three Super Bowls with his team that he owned for more than 40 years. He is shown in file photo in 2004 in Oakland, California. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Davis' death also raises the issue of NFL succession planning.

The NFL bans outside corporations from owning franchises, requiring instead that the teams have a single principal owner.

And then there's the estate tax.

Another iconic sports team owner, George Steinbrenner, passed away in 2010 when the federal estate tax was not in effect. 

But the estate tax was resurrected in 2011.

And that means that in addition to dealing with the NFL, Davis' family -- or more accurately, their attorneys -- also will be dealing with Uncle Sam.

It's going to be fun.

The Oakland Raiders' current value is $761 million. That's 31st in the 32-team NFL.

While Davis owned just 47 percent of the Raiders as a general partner through A.D. Football, his fractional value is still well above the $5 million estate value exclusion now in the Internal Revenue Code.

And that estate tax amount is this week's By the Numbers figure.

5 million estate tax exclusion 2011-2012

For the assets that exceed the exemption amount, the federal tax rate is 35 percent.

One rough estimate is that Davis' estate could owe around $50 million to the U.S. Treasury.

If that's the case, some league and tax watchers expect Davis' widow Carol and his son Mark to end up selling the franchise to meet estate tax obligations. Word is that former San Francisco 49ers' owner Eddie DeBartolo is interested in getting back in the NFL.

Others, however, predict that despite estate tax and other obstacles, the Davis family is committed to keeping the Raiders.

As I said, fun tax and NFL times ahead.

And I can still hear the incorrigible Davis' famous words as the legal and tax match-ups are set: Just win, baby!

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Charles Young

This is perfect proof that it doesn't matter how rich or famous you are, the right planning for the future will make a difference. The fans in Oakland LOVE their Raiders but if the Davis family is forces to sell the Raiders, they will not stay in the Bay Area.

US Probate Services

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