Estate Planning: These Billionaires will NOT be Leaving their Fortunes to their Children

Several of the world’s billionaires want to spread as much of their wealth as possible before they die, leaving much of their fortunes to charity. Not everyone stands to gain from such selflessness — namely, the children of these generous donors.

The children of these billionaires won’t be living large off their inheritances:
1. Warren Buffett: Warren Buffett has pledged to give away99% of his wealth, either during his life or when he dies. He started by promising 83% of it to the Gates Foundation,according to FORTUNE Magazine. Buffett said in his letter to the Gates Foundation: “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.”
2. Michael Bloomberg: Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor, has a net worth of $19.5 billion.  He is an avid philanthropist. In his letter to The Giving Pledge, Bloomberg wrote that “nearly all of my net worth will be given away in the years ahead or left to my foundation.” Bloomberg’s two daughters, however, may be left to foot the bill upon his death.Bloomberg once said, “the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker.”
3. Bill Gates: Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and CEO, is one of the richest people in the world. But he and his wife Melinda aren’t interested in keeping their money for themselves, or for their three children. “I knew I didn’t think it was a good idea to give the money to my kids. That wouldn’t be good either for my kids or society,” he told The Sun in 2010.
4. Bernard Marcus: Bernard Marcus, co-founder of the Home Depot, has a net worth of $1.5 billion. Not wanting his kids to inherit large sums of money — for their own good, he told Forbes that he plans on giving the majority of his Home Depot stock to his foundation, which benefits the handicapped and education. 
5. Nigella Lawson: Nigella Lawson, British chef, best-selling author and TV personality, was a millionaire even before she married (and then later divorced) wealthy advertising tycoon and art collector Charles Saatchi. She came under fire for saying, “I am determined that my children should have no financial security. It ruins people not having to earn money.” She followed up that statement by saying she didn’t plan on leaving her kids “destitute,” but stood by the idea that they would have to support themselves after school ended.

The consensus among these billionaires seems to be that leaving their children a fortune would not be in the childrens’ best interests and that inherited wealth often does more harm than it does good. Although these children may not inherit billions, as Ms. Lawson said, they will not be destitute. They will likely have untold opportunities, advantages, and connections, to help them succeed.
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Most people have worked their entire life to accumulate their assets.  Everyone needs the peace of mind that comes with making sure their finances are taken care of if they become incapacitated, that decisions about their health care are carried out the way they would like, and that their children and other heirs are taken care of when that time eventually comes (whether or not they have billions to leave to their children or to charity!). If you haven’t started your estate planning or to update your documents, please call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a consultation at The Fairfax Estate Planning Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.