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  • Writer's pictureRandall Fisher

Where does Michael Phelps go from here? To a decent estate planning attorney, that’s where.

Congratulations, Mr. Phelps!  Well, now that you’re all set to retire as the most accomplished athlete in Olympic history, what are you going to do next?

Nevermind, the cat would disown me.

No, Mr. Phelps.   No.  Don’t tell me you’re going to Disneyland.  Everybody goes to Disneyland.  Okay.  Okay fine, go but bring me back Mickey Mouse ears.  But when you return, you should probably start thinking about your future.

I’m just a humble attorney, Mr. Phelps.  No, no I haven’t ever medaled in the 4×200 litigation relay – I can’t even keep track of my glasses most days – but I know a thing or two about being prepared.  Not that you don’t.  I’m sure amassing the largest collection of Olympic accolades required more than just lazy talent.  I have a few suggestions, though, in case you haven’t covered everything yet.

You are, literally, the most decorated Olympian ever. Time to get those decorations insured.

Let’s start with the basics of planning your estate.  Now, this may not be on the table yet but there comes a time in every young man’s life when—oh, oh you’re 27.  You’ve had that talk already?  Hm.  Okay.  Good.  Well in the event you go down that road, set up a trust so that Michael Phelps, Jr. is able to train hard enough to one day either break all of your records or set his own in an entirely different career.

Before we can really consider that we have to establish your sources of income now that you’re entering your golden years about four decades sooner than the rest of the population.  Sponsors will put a very nice roof over your head and you’ll never have to buy Wheaties for the rest of your life, and with canny investing of that non-cereal capital you may never need to work again.

I know you’re excited to finally explore more than just the hotel pools of the many exotic cities in which you’ve competed, but take care not to burn through your money too quickly.  Establishing a retirement account or living trust with specified dispersals will keep you from having to melt down your medals to pay the bills later in life, as well as providing some relief to what could be a considerable tax burden.

Speaking of taxes, you could also catch a break by setting up a charitable foundation or setting aside a healthy chunk of money for an aquatic program or facility to benefit the community.  Additionally, you can get further tax write-offs if you donate some artifacts to a museum or similar entity.  Not necessarily anything big—goggles, swim cap, maybe a medal or two (don’t even try to tell me you aren’t just using them as coasters at this point).

Or you can just let Michael, Jr. use them for teething, as the clearly-not-a-toothless-infant Ryan Lochte demonstrates here.

You’ll also need to ensure that you set aside sufficient funds to keep healthy.  Not fit, Mr. Phelps, healthy – there is a slight distinction.  It’s true that swimming is less harsh on the body than many other sports, but what if long-term injuries arise from Olympian wear-and-tear?  Yes, I know the health care law was just approved but you never know what a future Supreme Court or Congress might do.  Remember, this is about being prepared.

Lastly, and I know this is strange to consider given that you feel utterly invincible at this point, but the greatest Olympian is only immortal in memory.  Nobody races time and wins, not even you.  So you need to make a will specifying who gets your medals and other assets.  Even more importantly, remember these trusts that I keep mentioning?  They will protect your property from being picked apart in probate court after your death, saving Michael, Jr. quite a lot of time and cash otherwise expended on the worst of the world’s money-grubbing vultures: attorneys.

Remember that a trust is the only way your estate avoids probate court – not even a will prevents that.  Furthermore, (and you’re a famed icon so you’ll appreciate this point) when an estate goes through probate, its contents become public knowledge.  Do you really want every reporter in the world picking through most private details of your life?  Well do you?  Mr. Phelps?

. . .

Wake up, Mr. Phelps.  No, no don’t worry about it.  No, not at all, it was nothing important.

Only your future.


If you’re interested in estate planning, business law, or just being prepared, find out how to reach us at our website:  You can also contact us at, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or at  If you come here just because we sometimes incorporate cats into the blog, get your fix at the Arts and Cats Movement.

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