Innovator Steve Jobs recently passed away on October 5th at the age of 56 after an eight year battle against pancreatic cancer. Only six weeks after resigning as CEO of Apple, Jobs died at his home in Palo Alto, California of respiratory arrest.
Jobs is best known for his advances in technology through Apple and Pixar. Jobs was co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc, as well as co-founder and previous CEO of Pixar Animation Studios. Upon the sale of Pixar to Disney in 2006, Jobs received 138 million Disney shares (worth approximately $4.4 billion) and a seat on the Disney Board of Directors. Jobs will forever be known as a legend for changing the course of computing, the music industry and mobile technology.
Upon his death, his estate has been estimated at $7 billion. With estate taxes at 35%, nearly $2.5 billion of his estate would have been lost to estate taxes alone. However, it appears Jobs was as careful in his estate planning as in other matters of his life. In fact, in 2009, during his second medical absence from Apple, Jobs and his wife transferred three different real estate properties into two different trusts. While there is no way to yet determine if his other assets were put into trusts, it seems very likely.
Creating a trust will keep the details of Jobs' estate and distributions private. For a highly public figure who greatly valued his privacy, this was likely an important factor for him. The trusts will also minimize the amount of taxes taken out of his estate.
Without a trust, an estate passes through probate and all the information becomes accessible to the public. It is also left to a judge to determine how the assets are distributed. Considering the size of Jobs' estate and that he has a child from before his marriage and three more with his current wife, Laurene Powell, it was very important that he plan correctly.
Knowing what a hard worker and innovator Jobs was in his business endeavors, it is no surprise that he was as fastidious in his estate planning. Having seen a number of celebrities fail to plan their estates properly, such as Michael Jackson, Stieg Larsson and Gary Coleman, it is a relief to see planning that was done correctly.
Next time you sit at your home computer, listen to music or use a mobile device, take a moment to realize the ways in which your life has been changed by one of our generation's greatest innovators, and say a brief thank you to the memory of Steve Jobs.