Warren Buffett has been one of the biggest donors to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2006, when he pledged 85% of his stock in Berkshire Hathaway to charity, with the bulk of it going to the foundation run by his longtime friends. However, a report in the Wall Street Journal now indicates that the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway could redirect tens of billions of dollars to his family’s charity, rather than the Gates Foundation.
In 2006, Warren Buffett promised to bequeath 85% of stock in his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, to the Gates Foundation. In a letter to Bill and Melinda Gates, the Oracle of Omaha wrote he was “irrevocably committing to make annual gifts of Berkshire Hathaway ‘B’ shares throughout my lifetime.”
But more obscure was the wording on what would happen to undistributed shares in the event of Buffett’s death. The legendary investor is turning 92 this year. He has not publicly disclosed how his estate would be divided upon his death, but a report in the Journal indicates that Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, a little-known abortion-rights charity, is scrambling to make preparations in anticipation of a huge influx of funding.
The Buffett family has been hiring administrative staff and planning to spend a massive amount of money it soon expects to receive. According to the report, foundation could receive as much as $70 to $100 billion.
Buffett has pledged to leave $56 billion for the Gates Foundation, $17.4 billion to four family-linked charities including the Buffett Foundation, and an uncommitted sum of $18.7 billion. He stepped down as a trustee of the Gates Foundation last year. In his 15 years as a trustee, he donated close to $36 billion to the philanthropic organization.
At a time when the subject of Buffett’s estate is being discussed, it is worth noting that earlier this year, the Gates Foundation removed a sentence from a press release which said that Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates would “devote the bulk of their remaining resources to the foundation.”The foundation could not speak for Buffett and his plans for future endowments, a spokesperson told the Journal at the time.