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Gates Foundation to Get Bulk of Buffett's Fortune

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Giving away massive amounts of money comes with its own challenges, experts said yesterday, and such large gifts could attract the attention of Congress because foundations aren't regulated.

"We haven't seen that kind of influence all in one pot," Palmer said.

Buffett will take a seat on the Gates Foundation's board of directors, but unlike Gates, he said he has no plans to be actively involved in the operations of the Gates foundation, or the other four philanthropic groups he is funding -- one of which is in the name of his wife, Susan Thompson Buffett, and the other three of which are run by his children.

"The feedback on philanthropy is very slow, and that would bother me. I'd have to be too involved with a lot of people I wouldn't want to be involved with and have to listen to more opinions than I would enjoy," Buffett told Carol J. Loomis, a top editor at Fortune, a longtime friend of Buffett's and a board member of the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation.

Buffett has attracted a cultlike following owing to his steady investing prowess. About 20,000 investors go to Omaha every year for the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a holding company with sizable stakes in companies including Benjamin Moore & Co., Geico Corp., International Dairy Queen Inc., and The Washington Post Co. Class A shares in Berkshire have increased in value an average of more than 20 percent a year for the past 20 years.

The company's operations will not be affected by the gradual change in share ownership, said Buffett, who said in the magazine interview that he feels in good health and plans to continue running the company.

Officials from Berkshire Hathaway could not be reached for comment. Melinda Gates and Buffett are on the board of The Washington Post Co.

Until now, Buffett has given little to philanthropy, amassing the wealth and leaving the work of philanthropy to others so his money could compound at a higher rate, he told Fortune. He said he had always planned to have his wife oversee his charitable giving after his death. But after she died -- and because he saw an opportunity to invest in an existing, well-respected foundation run by two "ungodly bright" people -- he changed plans to start giving it away this year, he told the magazine.

"Neither Susie nor I ever thought we should pass huge amounts of money along to our children," said Buffett, who said he plans to give away his remaining stock holdings after his death but that he has "quite a bit of cash" he still plans to leave to those close to him. "Our children are great," he told Fortune. "But I would argue that when your kids have all the advantages anyway, in terms of how they grow up and the opportunities they have for education, including what they learn at home -- I would say it's neither right nor rational to be flooding them with money."


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