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Jobs’ estate plan kept his wealth out of public eye

Apple founder Steve Jobs, known for keeping his business private, reportedly took that same approach to his estate planning. According to sources, Jobs and his wife made use of private trusts to hold their real estate, which included at least three different properties. Those properties were apparently placed in trusts back in 2009, while he was on medical leave of absence from Apple.

One of the homes in question was in Palo Alto, and two were in Woodside, a small, wealthy town nearby. Records shows that those properties were transferred into two private trusts about two months into his medical leave.

One of the advantages of placing assets in a trust is that they are not on public record and no probate process required. In addition, they can minimize estate taxes and shield assets from creditors. Of, course, the latter benefit wouldn’t have factored into Jobs’ estate plans.

The man was no doubt wealthy. In September this year, Forbes magazine said his wealth was around $7 billion. According to sources, Apple stock and Disney stock accounted for the bulk of it. Jobs reportedly received 138 million Disney shares in 2006 for the sale of Pixar to the company.

Some wonder whether Jobs left money to any other family members. And it isn’t clear whether he also place his non-real estate assets into trusts similar to those used for his real estate. Unfortunately for the curious, unless Jobs’ family comes forth and makes the information public, nobody will know how the entrepreneur left his wealth.

Although Jobs was rather private about his charitable giving, experts say he likely included it in his estate plan, if only for the tax savings it provides. Currently, federal tax law allows individuals to give away $5 million without estate taxes.

Source: ABC News, “Future of Steve Jobs’ $6.7 Billion Wealth Likely to Remain as Private As He Was,” Susanna Kim, Oct 7, 2011.