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Spanos family won’t need to sell due to estate taxes

Jacksonville Jaguars v San Diego Chargers

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Dean Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers, looks on from the sidelines against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on September 18, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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When the patriarch of a family that owns an NFL franchise passes, one of the most important questions becomes whether the transfer of his ownership interest to other family members will trigger the kind of estate-tax obligation that will make it impossible for the family to pay the taxes without selling all or part of the team. For the Chargers, the passing of Alex Spanos will not force the family to sell.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Alex Spanos commenced the process of planning for the transfer of the team in 1998. The goal was to ensure that the Spanos family would be able to continue to own and operate the franchise for as long as they choose to do so.

And they choose to do so; according to the source, the family will not be selling any of the team, and no plans exist to sell any of the team in the future.

The process began with the transfer of 60 percent of the team to his four children, 20 years ago. In 2006, Dean Spanos (pictured) became the controlling owner, something the league requires for franchise voting purposes. Regardless of how the percentages are divided among family members, one person must possess the title of controlling owner.

Thus, Dean Spanos will continue to serve as the controlling owner. Dean Spanos and his three siblings (Michael, Dea, and Lexi) will continue to own 60 percent of the team.

Alex Spanos and his late wife, Faye, retained 36 percent of the team. Plans were put in place as of 1998 to handle the transfer of that interest and the payment of the estate taxes. Per the source, the 36 percent will remain in the Spanos family.

The remaining four percent of the team continues to be owned by persons who trace back to the days when Gene Klein owned the team.

Thus, 96 percent of the asset was in the Spanos family, and 96 percent of the asset will stay in the Spanos family, with the estate taxes not an issue.