Last Updated on 11.10.17 by Michael Smoult
Fear of being incapacitated or even suffering a fatal injury while doing sport is the catalyst for rising numbers of exercise fans making a will.
In fact, our firm alone has seen a 65% increase in the number of people making a Will because of taking up sporting activities.
This was coupled with a significant rise in clients putting Power of Attorney into place in case they are incapacitated because of their sporting activities or adventurous hobbies.
We are seeing more and more clients who are becoming nervous about the ramifications of taking up sport or exercise. For example, I recently made a will for a client in their forties who felt motivated to do so after a fellow team player in their regular five-a-side football game had an unsuspected heart attack. It sounds ironic that people should equate exercise with making a will, but, sadly, many are becoming aware of the potential risk which goes with it.
The revelation comes amid news that Channel 4 is dropping The Jump next year.
Once dubbed ‘the most dangerous show on television’, The Jump follows celebrities as they try to master various winter sports including skeleton, bobsleigh, snowskates, ski cross, and giant slalom. However, 34 celebrities have been injured while taking part including Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle who was airlifted to hospital and has undergone surgery to fuse fractured vertebrae following a crash during training on the ski jump.
However it isn’t just extreme sports which is driving the need to make a will.
Exercise amongst so-called MAMILS – middle aged men in Lycra – is booming, emerging science suggests there is a threshold of distance, intensity or duration for even the hardiest fitness fanatic, and overshooting this can have a serious impact, particularly on cardiovascular health.
It seems that people are not only concerned about a fatal injury while doing sport. They are also worried about what would happen if they suffered a brain injury or were incapacitated as a result of an accident.
Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher who has been battling for his life ever since he suffered devastating head injuries in December 2013 during a ski accident.
And Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, who suffered a brain injury after being hit by a truck while cycling has spoken of how his personality has drastically changed since the accident. (The smash left him with damage to his frontal lobe – the part of the brain that controls things like mood, empathy and motivation.)
Not only are clients worried about what would happen to their families, their estates and businesses if they were to die intestate. High profile cases of sporting injury – including recent news that Mohammed Ali may have developed Parkinson’s because of his boxing career – has created a fear of what would happen if they were incapacitated through sport.
The problem is that without a lasting power of attorney – a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, if you lack mental capacity – no one can manage your affairs without your authorisation. So once a person is incapacitated then their bank accounts freeze once the bank become aware, and bills can go unpaid for months. If an LPA is not prepared then a Court Application for appointment is needed which takes four to six months to obtain, costs a lot more and if appointed is very stringently regulated. All of which compounds distress for relatives. `
Exercise in middle age has been booming in Britain, and with good cause. Only last week it was revealed that regular exercise is the best lifestyle change a middle-aged person can make to prevent dementia.
However many experts fear the consequences of overdoing it. One study presented at the American Academy of Family Physicians found middle-aged men who run marathons are at significantly greater risk of cardiac arrest.
There’s no doubt that exercise and keeping fit is the key to a healthy life. But accidents can happen, people can push themselves too hard or there can be an undiagnosed health issue which can have catastrophic results. And while it`s important for everyone to make a will to ensure their loved ones are taken care of, ironically, it seems the risks posed by sporting activities are making it more important than ever to do so.