Bill Gates won't leave $34bn fortune to his kids

Bill Gates is one of the richest men on Earth - but the Microsoft founder won't be leaving his $34 billion fortune to his three children when he dies.

Fifty-four year old Gates told a reporter from UK newspaper The Sun yesterday that he planned to give his wealth away through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation he created with his wife, which aims to tackle poverty and disease in the world's developing countries.

Since Gates's original charity vehicle, the William H Gates Foundation, merged to form the current organisation, the couple have convinced 40 others among America's wealthy elite to dip their hands into their considerable pockets, including muti-billionaire investor Warren Buffett and CNN founder Ted Turner.

Gates retired from his day-to-day job as chairman of Microsoft in 2008 to spend more time working for the Foundation, and describes the opportunity to travel the world fighting poverty and disease as "kinda neat".

So far the Foundation has given away £18 billion, providing vaccinations against tuberculosis and polio to more than 250 million children, and preventing an estimated five million deaths.

But although children in the third world will benefit from Gates's largesse, the veteran geek doesn't believe that charity should begin at home. While Gates's children - Jennifer, 14; Rory, 11; and Phoebe, 8 - won't exactly go penniless, they won't be looking forward to a life of decadent excess, either.

"I knew I didn't think it was a good idea to give the money to my kids," he says. "That wouldn't be good either for my kids or society. So the question was, 'Can I find something that had incredible impact?' I knew I wanted to do that.

"I will give the kids some money but not a meaningful percentage," he said. "Setting the number so that they need to work but they feel reasonably taken care of is hard to figure out."