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HomeEconomyWarren Buffett's Thanksgiving Tradition: A $900 Million Philanthropic Gesture

Warren Buffett’s Thanksgiving Tradition: A $900 Million Philanthropic Gesture

Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, has taken his Thanksgiving traditions to an extraordinary level. Instead of settling for the seasonal pumpkin pie, he chose to donate nearly $900 million in Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic foundations, surpassing last November’s near $800 million donation.

In a recent regulatory filing, Buffett revealed the conversion of 1,600 shares of Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A stock into 2.4 million Class B shares. These were then distributed among four family foundations: 1.5 million B shares to The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named after his late wife, and 300,000 shares each to the foundations run by his three children: The Sherwood Foundation, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and NoVo Foundation.

Valued at $866 million, based on Berkshire’s B shares’ closing price on Tuesday, this generous donation has reduced Buffett’s total A shares to 216,687, with a staggering value of $119 billion. Earlier in June, Buffett had also donated shares worth $4.6 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the same four family foundations.

In a press release detailing his latest philanthropic efforts, Buffett, at 93, humorously remarked on his advanced age, expressing astonishment at his children now being between the ages of 65 and 70. He reflected on the nature of wealth and philanthropy, asserting that dynastic wealth is undesirable and that being wealthy doesn’t inherently make one wise or evil.

Buffett disclosed that his children — Howard, Susan, and Peter — are set to be executors of his will and trustees of the charitable trust that will inherit over 99% of his fortune. He acknowledged their preparedness for this significant responsibility, a transformation since his 2006 commitment to the “Giving Pledge” to donate the majority of his wealth to charitable causes.

In his estate planning, Buffett emphasized the importance of unanimous decision-making by the trustees and the necessity of having designated successors to avoid disputes over leadership. He advocated for a broad charter for his trust, acknowledging the changing laws around philanthropy and the value of adaptive, living trustees over rigid instructions from the past.

Buffett also outlined his vision for the trust’s operations, including a self-liquidation plan within a decade and a lean staff structure, aiming to ensure prompt distribution of his wealth to maximize charitable impact.

Furthermore, Buffett shared his confidence in Berkshire’s future beyond his tenure. He endorsed his successor, Greg Abel, and the board of directors, highlighting Berkshire’s design for longevity. However, he cautioned that his significant stake in the company would only temporarily preserve its identity posthumously.

Concluding, Buffett promised transparency in the distribution of his assets after his death, with a straightforward will available for public inspection. This commitment to openness aligns with his long-held values of accountability and transparency in both business and philanthropy.

Buffett’s latest act of generosity not only continues his legacy of giving but also sets a remarkable example in the world of high finance, emphasizing the power and responsibility of wealth in driving positive societal change.