Warren Buffett may not want to pass his fortune on to his family when he shuffles off his mortal coil and greets whatever fate awaits him in the afterlife, but while he’s alive he certainly wants to keep a tight reign on the lives of his family members. At least, that’s what his recent declaration disowning his granddaughter seems to imply.
As Page Six reports, in a letter to San Francisco artist Nicole Buffett, Warren wrote, “I have not emotionally or legally adopted you as a grandchild, nor have the rest of my family adopted you as a niece or a cousin.”
When asked for comment, a Warren representative went even harsher.
“Nicole is not Mr. Buffett’s granddaughter. She is the daughter of a former daughter-in-law of his who was married to his son for only about 10 years.”
So what got Nicole voted off Buffett Island? She participated in a follow-up to Jamie Johnson’s “Born Rich” about the lives of young people raised in wealthy families, and then went on Oprah to talk about it.
But Warren’s wrong, at least legally. Nobody chooses their parents but you also don’t get to choose your grandchildren. When your kids adopt, those adoptees become part of your family and potential heirs. When she was quite young, her mother married Warren Buffett’s son Peter, and Peter formally adopted her. If Warren, his wife and his immediate children died without a valid will, the estate laws of most states would give her whatever part of his fortune remained.
Buffet to Kin: You’re Fired! [Page Six; hattip: WallStFolly]