Steve Jobs Likely Paid No Estate Taxes By Using Trusts in Estate Plans

News spread quickly last week of the death of Steve Jobs, the popular technology guru who pioneered so many technological marvels with Apple and the animation company Pixar. While Mr. Jobs was a billionaire, those familiar with his estate planning affairs explain that even middle class families have much to gain by following his lead in planning for their long-term financial affairs. For one thing, no one knows exactly what Jobs decided to do with his affairs, because by using trusts he was able to keep his business out of the public eye. As reported in The Trust Advisor, one man familiar with the situation explains, “Privacy was such a big part of his life and his career. And if everything passed through one or more trusts, there would have been no probate fee…and no will to be read (publically).” You do not have to be a billionaire to achieve this privacy by utilizing alternatives to a will. Our New York estate planning lawyers have helped many local families in our area do just that over the years.

On top of the ability to make decisions privately, Mr. Jobs plan also highlights the way that preparation can help avoid taxes. Most believe that his roughly $6 billion estate will likely pay no estate taxes. Estate taxes continue to make news nationwide as lawmakers debate over changes in the rate and the levels at which the tax kicks in. However, steps can be taken to essentially eliminate the assets that are counted toward those taxes, making it possible to avoid these taxes altogether. The New York estate planning attorneys at our firm can explain what specific steps should be done in your individual case to ensure as much wealth as possible passes on to those who you’d like to receive it.

Mr. Jobs estate planning is also a good example of how each plan is entirely individualized to account for the unique goals, desires, and perspectives of the one from whom it is crafted. No one yet knows how his fortune will be divided down the road. All that is known is that before his death Mr. Jobs’ attorneys moved 5.5 million shares of Apple, 138 million shares of Disney, and various real estate holdings into trusts. It is unknown who the trustee is now that Mr. Jobs has passed. Those familiar with the situation explain that Mr. Jobs had indicated distaste for dynastic plans that would have kept the fortune entirely locked up down the ages. Instead, most suspect that a philanthropic enterprise may be created with much of the assets, perhaps to assist other technology start-ups. No matter what, it is assured that Mr. Jobs plan was a reflection of his own values, something that he shares with every other community members who takes the time to craft their estate plan and consider their long-term legacy.

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