Estate plan for Apple's Steve Jobs still a mystery

According to public records, while on medical leave from Apple in 2009, co-founder Steve Jobs and his spouse are said to have placed at least three properties into trusts. One reason for doing this may have been their desire to keep their assets from being disclosed in the event of his death. Jobs died on October 5 from pancreatic cancer in California at the age of 56.

In March 2009, Jobs and his wife transferred ownership in three properties to two different trusts. In California, wills are to be filed in court within 30 days of a person's death. If Jobs put assets into trusts, the information contained within his will may be sparse, which may be exactly what Jobs wanted.

In California, real estate transfers are recorded in county records. Real estate records indicate that Jobs took estate planning actions for some properties in Silicon Valley. Jobs and his wife co-owned their home Palo Alto, California. They also owned properties in Woodside, public records show.

Steve Jobs stepped down as chief executive for Apple back in August. It is not clear if he put other stock and non-real estate assets into other trusts. Putting stock and real estate into trusts is often a means of minimizing estate taxes once a person dies. It is also a way of keeping certain assets from public disclosure via probate court. Forbes Magazine estimated Job's wealth at $7 billion as of September 2011.

While much is not known about Steve Jobs' asset status, what is known is that estate planning and trust administration are often critical to preserving wealth. An estate plan may help children and heirs in getting what they deserve without having to resort to probate court. For many individuals considering their estate plan, consultation with an experienced attorney may be the best first step.

Source: The Reuters, "RPT-Steve Jobs put real estate in trust in 2009-records," Dan Levine, Oct. 7, 2011

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