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What does Warren Buffett's will look like?

People are used to getting business advice and investment tips from leaders in the financial world. We hear about habits or trends that are beneficial for a person to adopt or common mistakes to avoid. But one topic that may be overlooked is what steps these business leaders take to protect and control their own assets when they are no longer able to do so themselves. 

Estate planning is not something that comes up on a day-to-day basis, even though people make other financial decisions every day. Sometimes it can be helpful to be reminded that having a will or estate plan in place may be one of the most important financial decisions that a person can make. Recently, billionaire and influential business leader Warren Buffett tackled some questions related to his own personal estate plan.

Buffett was attending a meeting where he was asked several questions related to his business and finances, but he also gave some great insight into what might happen to all of this after he is gone.

Buffett has long been an advocate for responsible giving and does not simply want to give his heirs all of his vast wealth. His personal goal is to leave his children enough money that they will be taken care of, but not so much that they do not have to do anything to contribute to their own success.

The billionaire also stated that he frequently updates his will about every five years. He says that his views on leaving his children more money has changed as they have grown and matured. Leaving them more money as well-adjusted adults makes more sense as the years go by. 

It may be surprising, but Buffett also states that he views his will as a family matter, not an individual matter. By giving family members the ability to review a will before a person is gone, he says, they are able to ask questions and have them answered. 

The billionaire reiterated his dedication to financially contributing to society, and he stated that he continues to support the inclusion of charitable giving as part of an estate plan. 

Creating an estate plan is a very personal process. What is right for one person may not be right for another. However, there are certainly lessons to be learned from people like Warren Buffett who have been successful in so many areas of financial planning.

Source: The Globe and Mail, "Lessons in estate planning from Warren Buffett," Thane Stenner, May 19, 2013

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