Before his death on March 25, 2014, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson adamantly believed that his team and its management staff should go on without him. For this reason, Wilson used a trust to set up control and management of his team before his death. It’s thought that the trust could last at least two years and maybe more.
The details of the trust aren’t well-known yet. The true number of executors is unknown, though there are thought to be two or three. The exact details and instructions in the trust as also a mystery, as of now.
Any agreement to sell the team out of the trust will have to be approved by 75 percent of the other National Football League team owners. This stipulation means that at least 24 owners need to agree to a new owner.
The owners can also help determine whether the team stays within Buffalo — something rabid fans want to happen. While it’s unclear whether the team will stay in Buffalo, it’s thought that many owners will support the team staying put, as long as the city has a stadium that can handle the fans.
However, eventually, it may be necessary for the trust to sell for the highest offer because of the trust’s fiduciary responsibility to Wilson’s family. When that is, however, is unknown. The team’s lease goes through 2023, with a buy-out clause in 2020. If the team leaves Buffalo in 2020, the team will need to pay a buy-out fee of $28.4 million. Before or after 2020, the fee jumps to $400 million so the trust has a definite incentive to make a decision in 2020.
Trusts aren’t just for the very rich or business owners like Wilson. Everyday people can use trusts to help protect their loved ones — and their assets — after they’ve passed away. It’s an incredible gift and legacy that anyone can give their loved ones.
Source: The Buffalo News, “What’s next for the Bills? For now, the team will be controlled by a trust” Mark Gaughan, Mar. 25, 2014