Trust Ensures That Jerry Buss’ Family Will Hold onto Lakers

Many Los Angeles Lakers fans mourned the passing of the team’s primary owner, Jerry Buss, on Monday. Some might wonder if his death will bring radical changes to the ownership of the team, but according to his family, that’s not very likely.

Buss purchased the team, reported to be worth around $1 billion, in 1979. He had a 66 percent stake in the team when he died, and judging by the trust he set up years ago to hold the ownership stake, it has long been his intention to keep the Lakers in the Buss family. The trust stipulates that the ownership, now held by his ex-wife and six children, cannot be divided and sold off in pieces. The stake could legally be sold off entirely, but given the family’s devotion to the team, the Lakers are sure to stay with them.

If some of Buss’ children or his ex-wife did want to sell, they would have to overcome some obstacles. The sale of the team would require a majority vote among the six children. His ex-wife owns a portion of the team but does not have the ability to vote on a sale. This is not to say there won’t be disagreements. The Buss siblings have occasionally butted heads in the past, such as with the hiring of coach Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, the fiance of one of the Buss children. And families who must make decisions about large amounts of money are bound to encounter conflict now and then.

But Buss was wise to plan early for the team and make his wishes specific and legally binding. If everyone took as much care and time to plan for the end of their lives, there would likely be much less fighting among family members when it came time to administer their estates.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Lakers expected to remain a Buss family-owned team,” Mike Bresnahan, Feb. 19, 2013