What Happens When Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett Dies?

Q.ai — a Forbes Company
3 min readMay 9, 2023
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Key takeaways

  • Berkshire Hathaway’s 92-year-old CEO, Warren Buffett, plans to give away almost all of his $112 billion wealth
  • The Gates Foundation has received billions so far, but it’s not currently clear which organization stands to benefit the most after Buffett dies
  • Berkshire Hathaway could be broken up into smaller businesses after the CEO’s death

What exactly happens when Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men in the world, dies? It’s a morbid topic, sure. But we can’t help but feel a little curious about the plan after the world’s most famous investor passes away, especially as he’s previously hinted he’d give away 99% of his wealth.

Buffett isn’t like other billionaires, so let’s dive into exactly what the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ has announced in the past and predict what could become of the holdings conglomerate.

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Warren Buffett’s succession plan

Warren Buffett is an old-school, rare-breed kind of billionaire: he still lives in the same home he bought for $31,500 in 1958, has expressed his disdain for inherited wealth and has always kept Berkshire Hathaway’s HQ headcount to a handful of people.

So it’s no surprise Buffett has 40% of Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A stock and says the stock makes up virtually all of his estate. Class A stock has much more voting power than Class B stock, which means he can still control the company while donating to charitable causes. The 92-year-old is also still the company’s CEO, so his power there is pretty much absolute.

There are some clues about what might happen to the legendary trader’s extraordinary wealth in Berkshire Hathaway’s 2017 annual report. There, Buffett commented that on his death, he’s already taken care of taxes and bequests, and all remaining Berkshire Hathaway shares would go to charitable foundations.

Exactly which charities are set to benefit? Since 2006 Buffett has pledged the bulk of his wealth would go to the Gates Foundation, run by divorced couple Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates. But recently, the Buffett family’s pro-abortion rights charity, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, has allegedly been preparing for a huge influx of money after Buffett’s death.

There’s also the possibility that Berkshire Hathaway will cease to exist as we currently know it. Buffett has commented before that he’s not keen on the company being broken up, but some think it could happen to maximize the value of the company’s assets.

The bottom line

The contents of Warren Buffett’s will likely won’t be known until after the fact. But the billionaire has been planning for years what would happen to his enormous wealth, and has made it clear he’d like to see Berkshire Hathaway stay as one company.

However, one bet we’d make is that the web design team will finally overhaul the Berkshire Hathaway website once Buffett is gone.

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Q.ai — a Forbes Company

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