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Will the 35 percent estate tax impact Steve Jobs' trusts?

Following the death of Steve Jobs earlier this month, many people in New Jersey are wondering about the details of his multi-billion dollar estate, especially since he died in a year with a 35 percent estate tax. Due to his long fight with pancreatic cancer, some people may assume that his estate planning was well thought-out and meticulously prepared. However, other people are still wondering about the specifics of his estate -- though as we discussed in our last post about trusts, the details of his estate may remain secret.

For example, Jobs was often criticized for failing to follow in the footsteps of billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and for not donating any portion of his estate to charity. But charitable gifts can be incorporated into an estate plan, and Jobs took great measures to keep his plans private. Some experts believe that the world may never know if Jobs donated any portion of his estate following his death.

Regardless, many estate planners are focusing more on the time of Jobs' death, not just the specifics of his will. For example, if he had died in 2010, there's a good chance that his executor may have avoided paying any estate tax at all.

Steve Jobs' death is a reminder to many Americans about how important it is to plan ahead, especially in times when the future is very uncertain. Although certainly a grim undertaking, Jobs began planning for his death long before early October.

Source: Forbes, "Steve Jobs Dies In Year With 35% Estate Tax," Hani Sarji, Oct. 5, 2011

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