The Genius of Steve Jobs’ Estate Plan

Some of the news coverage concerning the recent passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs focused on what would become of his vast estate.  The truth is we will never know for sure who gets what and how much Mr. Jobs’ estate is worth.

Why?  Because Steve Jobs’ genius did not stop at technological innovations such as the iPhone, iPad, and iMac, to name a few devices credited to him.  Mr. Jobs was also savvy enough to engage proper estate planning counsel to implement a plan for him that would keep the determination of his estate private and, in all likelihood, minimize or avoid altogether the Federal estate tax.

How is this possible?  It’s simple, really.  Reuters has reported that Mr. Jobs’ estate plan utilizes a revocable trust, also known as a living trust, which governs his estate upon his death.  Key advantages to the use of a revocable trust are the avoidance of probate (as the successor trustee named in the revocable trust agreement succeeds the deceased grantor/initial trustee and carries out distributions to trust beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust agreement) and minimization of estate taxes (through the use of devices such as credit shelter trusts). 

In over ten years of practicing law, I am still amazed by how many people fail to implement any kind of estate plan during their lifetimes, be it a revocable trust or just a simple will.  Nonetheless, it does not surprise me that Steve Jobs, given his genius in other areas of his life and work, was smart enough to create a proper plan.