KEY POINTS

  • Warren Buffett built his $96 billion fortune from investing through his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway
  • He plans to distribute 99% of his wealth to philanthropic causes
  • He joins Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and more billionaires who won't pass on their wealth to their children

For those wishing they had been born as one of Warren Buffett’s children and dreaming of inheriting his billions, think again. The billionaire known for his genius investing strategy is not planning to leave the majority of his fortune to his three heirs. Here are his reasons and how he plans to distribute his wealth.

Buffett, sometimes known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” revealed in a 1986 Fortune magazine interview that he saw no point in leaving a staggering amount of money to his three children with late wife Susan — Howard Graham Buffett, Peter Buffett and Susan Alice Buffett. In fact, he said he believes that giving his kids “a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb” would be “harmful” for them, describing it as “an antisocial act.” 

Believing that his children will turn out fine even without a massive inheritance, he said at the time, “My kids are going to carve out their own place in this world, and they know I'm for them whatever they want to do.” 

Still, he will not leave his children empty-handed. In a 2006 Fortune interview, Buffett explained, “My family won’t receive huge amounts of my net worth. That doesn’t mean they’ll get nothing... I still believe in the philosophy ... that a very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing.”

Buffett’s children ”each have a $2 billion foundation” funded by their dad, The Washington Post reported in 2014. Though it is nowhere near their father's current $96 billion fortune, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, it still puts them among the wealthiest individuals.

But where will most of his money go? In the 1986 interview, Buffett disclosed that he intends to distribute his fortune to charity.

As of 2021, the billionaire pledged to leave 99% of his wealth to philanthropic causes. The Gates Foundation and his children’s foundations have been the biggest benefactors of his pledge, receiving more than $41 million so far, Forbes reported. 

Buffett was already demonstrating keen business abilities at a young age. He started investing at age 11 and filed his first tax return in 1944 at age 14, per Forbes. He has been guiding Berkshire Hathaway as its chairman and chief executive officer since 1970. The company has a market capitalization of $562.9 billion as of 2021, per CNBC.

Buffett is not the only billionaire who has rejected the idea of leaving their fortunes to their offspring. He joins a long list that includes Bill Gates, Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

In 2010, Buffett and Gates launched the Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage wealthy individuals and families to donate half of their fortune to charity.

Investment titan Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has bought a five percent stake in Japan's top trading houses Investment titan Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has bought a five percent stake in Japan's top trading houses Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Paul Morigi