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Estate Planning for the Super Wealthy: Give It All Away


There is a misconception that it is only very wealthy people who need to worry about what will happen to their money and properties after they are gone. People may avoid completing a will or setting up a trust because they do not think they have enough money, but putting together an estate plan is something that people from all backgrounds should consider.

Certainly there will be differences between a super wealthy person’s estate plan and the estate plans of others. However, one can certainly learn a few tips and lessons from the other. For example, many people in California may decide to make some of the same decisions that extremely wealthy folks like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have reportedly made in their estate plans.

Gates and Buffett are reportedly only leaving a relatively small but fair portion of their wealth to their children. Instead of handing the money down, they have decided to hand their money out. The two are part of a group of super wealthy people who have pledged to leave much of their estates to charities, instead of dividing it up between loved ones.

This concept is something that any person may want to consider for their own estate plans. People likely will not be leaving the same amount of money to charities, but the process of giving money away may help people to avoid the possibility of a bitter family dispute.

After a person is gone, family members are often very sensitive to the terms of an estate plan that is left behind. They may feel that some decisions are unfair or inappropriate. This can create significant family tension and can raise questions that must be left unanswered.

Rather than create these types of rifts, people like Gates and Buffett are giving their money away. They have also been vocal in their plans, which can be crucial for all families. Discussing the terms of an estate plan, especially when they may be perceived as unusual, can help people address any questions or concerns that may be raised.

Having an estate plan can give people the peace of mind of knowing that their wishes will be honored after they are gone. An attorney can be very beneficial in helping people create a clear and comprehensive estate plan.

Source: CNBC, “Smartest Decision Ever Made by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett,” Constance Gustke, June 3, 2013

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