Still the Greatest: Lessons from Muhammad Ali’s Financial Legacy


Over the course of his career, Muhammad Ali made approximately $57 million. At first glance this seems like a large sum of money, but once you consider that Ali retired 35 years ago, and that he faced escalating medical bills as his Parkinson’s Disease progressed, it is quite impressive that at the end of his life his estate is estimated to be worth about $50 million. There are several key points which allowed Ali to maintain his assets and pass on a significant financial legacy, in addition to his cultural legacy, to his loved ones.

One key to Ali’s financial legacy is that he allowed his money to work for him. In 2006, Ali sold 80% of his image rights and used the proceeds to create a family trust which likely aided in managing his health care costs over the last decade, and will go a long way in supporting his family now that he has passed. With his retained interest in his image rights, Ali was able to let the venture capitalists who purchased the other 80% do most of the heavy lifting while he received a nice stipend in connection with their labors. By letting his money work for him, he was able to maintain a nice lifestyle and put provision in place for his care during his life, and for the care of his loved ones now that he is gone.

Anther key which secured Ali’s financial legacy is that he lived within his means toward the end of his life. Although he was known for his larger-than-life personality, As Ali aged he seemed to grow wiser and he lived a lifestyle his income could support. He owned a couple of nice homes in Arizona and Kentucky which sold for approximately $5 million in all. For a figure as iconic as Ali, these are relatively modest homes, but they allowed him to manage his health costs and to invest in various philanthropic interests.

No one will tell you that Muhammad Ali was the perfect example of finance management or estate preparation. Obligations to his ex-wives, and the flamboyant nature of his youth, certainly caused him his fair share of financial problems. What can be said about Ali, however, is that as he looked at the situation before him with declining health and a long retirement, he took the steps necessary to secure the support he needed for his own care, and to ensure a proper financial legacy for the loved ones he left behind.

Creating an estate plan can be intimidating, but it can be managed with the proper support team. Our attorneys provide knowledgeable and strategic estate planning guidance that will enable you to manage any of your estate planning needs. Call us at (301) 468-3220 to schedule an initial consultation.

– Christopher J. Martin, Esq.

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