Future of Steve Jobs' $6.7 Billion Wealth Likely to Remain as Private As He Was

Steve Jobs' fortune likely went to family and charities in private trusts.

October 06, 2011, 11:35 AM

Oct. 7, 2011 — -- The ever-private Steve Jobs was famously secretive when it came to Apple's new products. As with his personal life, the future of Steve Jobs' wealth will also stay under the radar.

While the Apple co-founder's salary was $1 in 2010, Jobs' net worth estimate is at least $6.7 billion as of Sept. 6, according to Bloomberg News. Jobs owned 5.5 million shares of Apple stock, worth about $2.1 billion. The 56-year old Jobs had led the company since 1996, after co-founding the company in 1976 and his ouster in 1985.

Tim Bajarin, president of technology consulting firm Creative Strategies in Silicon Valley's Campbell, Calif., said Job's wealth first began to accumulate after he founded Apple. While Jobs' computer company, NeXT, was not notably profitable, Baharin said Jobs' acquisition of Pixar was.

The bulk of his wealth came from his 7.4 percent stake in The Walt Disney Co. -- 138 million shares -- worth $4.4 billion. Jobs acquired Pixar in 1986 and Disney bought the computer animation studio in 2006, placing Jobs on Disney's board of directors. According to Bloomberg, Jobs' Disney stock paid him at least $242 million in dividends before taxes since 2006. Jobs was the single largest shareholder in Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Given Jobs' vast wealth and penchant for privacy, he likely set up private trusts for his family and charitable purposes, according to Danielle Mayoras, estate planning attorney and co-author of the book Trial & Heirs. Mayoras said it is likely Jobs carefully planned his estate, given his wealth and length of his illness, though there are also individuals who do "not do the proper planning" regardless of one's circumstances.

Attorneys usually help individuals create private trusts, which leave almost no public record, to describe the terms of an inheritance.

"If you do do a trust, there's nothing that goes through the probate court and no public documents," she said. "Unless his family comes forth publicly, we're not going to know how he is distributing his wealth."

Jobs and his wife, Laurene Powell, married in 1991 and had three children: Reed Paul, Erin Sienna, and Eve.

In a statement on Wednesday, the family said, "Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family."

"In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family," the family said.

One of the mysteries of his estate is whether he left money for his other family members. He had another daughter, Lisa Brennan Jobs, born in 1978 with his high school girlfriend, Chris Ann Brennan. As an adoptee, Jobs never met his biological father, Abdulfattah John Jandali, who is an executive at a hotel in Reno, Nev.

Mayoras said careful planning would have clearly spelled out who his heirs were and would have minimized any potential conflicts over his estate.

"Just because you have a child does not mean you have to provide for him or her," she said.

Though Jobs was not public about his financial giving like other wealthy magnates such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Mayoras said it is likely Jobs included charitable giving in his estate planning, in part because of the tax break donations provide. His wife is a board member of Teach for America, The Global Fund for Women, among a handful of other non-profits. In 1986, Jobs started the Stephen P. Jobs foundation but closed it after a year for reportedly not having enough time, according to the New York Times.

Many speculated Steve Jobs was the anonymous donor that gave $150 million three years ago to the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco. But a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed he was not.

"Though Steve Jobs was a friend and supporter of the University of California, San Francisco, speculation that a $150 million anonymous donation to the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center came from him is erroneous. The donor who gave the gift remains anonymous," said Barbara J. French, Vice Chancellor, Strategic Communications & University Relations for UCSF.

This year, an individual can give away $5 million with no estate taxes. If Jobs properly planned, he and his wife could pass on $10 million without estate taxes. Outside of that limit, depending on the charitable planning, his estate could be taxed at 35 cents on the dollar, said Mayoras.

"I'm assuming not only did he do general estate planning, but also charitable planning with lots of trusts in place to protect some assets," she said.

Jobs and his family lived in the small, wealthy town of Woodside, Calif., about 17 miles from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino in Silicon Valley.

In February, Jobs demolished his Spanish colonial mansion to make way for a smaller residence, despite attempts from a preservation group to relocate the 86-year old historical home. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jobs bought the mansion in 1984, lived in it for 10 years, rented it, then left it vacant since 2000.

Jobs was not known to have a luxurious lifestyle, often donning his signature black turtleneck, jeans and sneakers during most product presentations.

Bajarin said Jobs' home was beautiful but "not extravagant." He said Jobs was not frugal but the only splurge he recalled was his private plane.

"That was more than necessary given the size of the company and many companies do similar things," Bajarin said.

In 1993, Jobs told the Wall Street Journal: "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful…that's what matters to me."

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