“The many, wide-ranging constituencies for Allen’s endeavors—from Seattle and Portland sports fans to connoisseurs of fine art and pop culture to nonprofits, real-estate investors and academic and scientific leaders—have questions: What will be kept and what will be sold? What form will the promised philanthropy take and what will its focus be? When will it all happen?”
Paul Allen wanted to give away most of the $20 billion-plus fortune he accumulated as Microsoft co-founder, technology investor, real estate magnate and NFL and NBA team owner.
However, about a year after his death, the plans he made are still a closely guarded secret, and its execution is a complex, high-stakes work in progress.
The Seattle Times’s recent article, “What’s happening to Paul Allen’s billions? A year after his death, it’s complicated” says that it can take years to unwind holdings like Allen’s.
The process of giving away as much as $10 billion or more of his estate falls to Jody Allen, trustee, sister and, with her family, sole heir.
Jody Allen “has responsibility for preserving and implementing Paul Allen’s vision for generations to come,” says her biography on the website of Vulcan, the business they co-founded that serves as the hub of the Allen empire.
Jody’s specific intentions are not known outside of her inner circle. However, the expectations are great, based in large part on Paul and Jody Allen’s record of philanthropy. Paul gave away about $2 billion, while he was alive.
The sale of Allen’s cash-consuming assets, like yachts or space ventures, is a regular task in cleaning up an estate, so that when it’s time to distribute cash, there’s liquidity.
However, this clean-up can take several years for estates of this size. Estates have up to 15 months from the date of death, including extensions, to file estate tax returns.
The executor must pay estimated taxes, which can be up to 52% of assets not going to charity.
Any major distributions usually must wait until after state and federal tax officials sign off.
Reference: The Seattle Times (November 26, 2019) “What’s happening to Paul Allen’s billions? A year after his death, it’s complicated”