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A Billion Reasons: How Aging Tycoons are Dodging the Taxman for Good and for Good

In a world where billionaires are often viewed with a lens of skepticism, a recent Forbes article sheds light on a different narrative. It tells the tale of four aging magnates, who are on a mission to ensure their wealth doesn't just fill government coffers but makes a tangible difference. You could read the article but we thought we would let you know some of our thoughts. Let's dive into one of their stories:


Phil Knight, the Nike Cofounder: At 85, Knight's concern extends beyond his $39.5 billion fortune. His philanthropic journey, albeit challenging, reflects a resolve to contribute to causes like wildfire control in Oregon, and education and health institutions. His philosophy? The right charity can utilize funds more effectively than governmental channels. Conversations with his financial advisor echo the overarching aim—to minimize the tax footprint and maximize the impact of his wealth in areas he cares passionately about, education and health.


Wealth, when channeled right, can be a catalyst for enduring and significant change. And as these billionaires age, their vision of a legacy transcends beyond just a hefty bank balance, to improving society for causes they are passionate about.


It's essential to highlight that orchestrating such a philanthropic wealth transfer isn't an overnight task. It’s a long journey that requires:

  • Years of Planning: Setting up trusts, deciding on the charities, and ensuring the wealth is well-protected from hefty estate taxes involves many parties and can take years to set up and keep up to date.

  • Coordination of Many Service Providers: Creating a wealth transfer in a tax efficient manner includes Estate Planners, Tax Specialists, Lawyers and more. They will all require different documents, have different requirements and will need to work together in coordination. They will need to be reengaged on a regular basis to ensure that your plan is up to date.

  • Comprehensive Documentation: Are you aware of all your assets? Are they well-documented? Are they updated on a regular basis? Having a complete and up to date listing of assets allows you to create a plan that works for you and your family and will not result in any tax surprises in the future.

Technological solutions have emerged as an essential tool in this intricate journey. Harnessing technology allows people to optimize estate management from today till the end of days and for future generations.


Now, what can we learn from the Billionaires, especially when it comes to philanthropic giving? Here are some insights for Canadians and US residents:

  • Tax Benefits: Both nations offer tax incentives for charitable donations. In Canada, individuals can claim a tax credit for charitable donations, reducing the taxable income. Similarly, the US provides tax deductions for charitable giving, which can significantly lower your tax bill.

  • Donor-Advised Funds: Establishing a Donor-Advised Fund allows you to make charitable contributions, receive an immediate tax benefit, and recommend grants from the fund over time.

  • Charitable Trusts: By setting up charitable trusts, you can provide a fixed annual income to your chosen charity while also benefiting from tax savings.

Regardless of your estate’s size, ensuring you are minimizing tax, having a well documented plan that your next of kin is aware of, and updating your plan on a regular basis are crucial for successful philanthropic giving after you pass away. can be less daunting, ensuring your wealth serves a higher purpose while reaping tax benefits. While we all wish we could beat Father Time, ensuring your family and executor know your wishes and that your plan is updated consistently and includes all assets is essential to having your wishes fulfilled instead of leaving your family with a headache to deal with.


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