Warren Buffett wants his entire $96 billion fortune spent within 10 years of his death. Every kid on the planet might get a cut
What happens to Warren Buffett's billions when he dies? A portion of this could benefit every child on the planet.
So reports the Wall Street Journal in a recent investigation into the future of Buffett's fortune, which is worth $96.8 billion as of this writing. In 2006, Berkshire Hathaway's CEO pledged to donate 85% of his stock to charity, with the majority of it benefiting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Four years later, he vowed to redistribute 99% of his wealth to philanthropy during or after his life.
Of Buffett's $90 billion stake in Berkshire, $56 billion goes to the Gates Foundation and $17.4 billion to four family charities, leaving $18.7 billion uncommitted -- all numbers that could grow, according to the Journal , if Berkshire shares continue to perform as they have so far. He reportedly wants his billions spent within 10 years of his death.
Gates Foundation staff have gambled on getting both Buffett's pledged shares and the remaining unpledged shares in full, the Journal reported, after spending years trying to figure out where to put the money, as some Gates grantees Foundation were already exhausted.
One proposed solution was the founding of a World Children's Savings Bank. The exact amount allocated to each child was not disclosed, but a former Gates Foundation staffer told the Journal that each child would receive thousands of dollars "standing on a shelf like a battle plan" for babies who benefited will.
But Buffett, who turns 92 this year, hasn't revealed the gist of how his fortune will be divided after his death; Estate planning experts told the Journal his promise was somewhat ambiguous. The investigation found that the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, a family charity that campaigns for abortion rights, has hired staff and planned a "massive cash inflow" of up to $100 billion — meaning she's sharing a lucky break the Gates Foundation could inherit anticipate.
Gates Foundation and Buffett Foundation officials did not respond to Fortune's requests for comment, and Buffett told the Journal that there were inaccuracies in his reporting. But if the Gates Foundation gets enough money to give every child a cut, it would actually help the world's socio-economic playing field, potentially providing parents with the financial safety net they need to have children in today's economy.
As the cost of living increases, it becomes increasingly unaffordable to pay for your own expenses, let alone those of someone else. Finance is partly why the percentage of nonparents in the US ages 18-49 who say they are unlikely or not at all likely to have children has increased by 7% since 2018 to 44% in 2022, according to the Pew Research Center. The cost of raising a child in the US costs parents more than $280,000 on average.
It's contributing to the US birth rate decline that's been going on for over a decade, as increasing numbers of indebted and recession-stricken millennials delay having children until they get their finances in order. The declining birth rate is a global trend among more developed nations; in China, for example, the birth rate fell in 2021 for the fifth year in a row.
As wealth inequality and the wage gap widened during the pandemic, more billionaires began to think of more inventive ways to allocate their wealth. This includes the idea of a fairer distribution of money, starting with the children. It's even making it to the Senate -- the Democrat-backed American Opportunity Accounts Act, a proposal that will address the racial wealth gap by introducing $1,000 baby bonds for all newborns in the United States.
If Gates employees pull through such plans for a global children's bank, Buffett's billions around the world could have the same impact.
This story was originally published on Fortune.com
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