Jeff Bezos Does Not Have a Separation Agreement – But You Should!
Jeff Bezos, the 54-year-old billionaire founder of Amazon.com, and his 48-year-old wife MacKenzie Bezos have decided to divorce. The couple met in 1993, long before Jeff had even amassed his first million, and they got married six months later.
Now, those more austere newly-wed days are a long-ago memory: Jeff is currently the richest man on the planet, with an estimated worth of US$137 billion. He owns 16 percent of Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer.
We have to wonder whether Jeff wouldn’t mind turning back the hands of time to those humbler newly-wed days: It is reported that before exchanging vows he and MacKenzie did not make a separation agreement (which in the U.S. is often called a “pre-nuptial” agreement or simply a “prenup”).
Since they will likely file for divorce in the state of Washington where they own a home (and which has a “community property” regime for the equal split of assets on divorce) this means that they will likely split the US$137 billion evenly. In other words, all income and earnings that were amassed during the marriage are split on a 50-50 basis, which would make MacKenzie the world’s richest woman.
Reportedly, Jeff and MacKenzie’s split is on very amicable terms – and only time will tell whether it will remain so. Still, the division of assets will likely be complex, because the former pair own vast swaths of land in the U.S. which may be challenging to put a value on, for the purposes of splitting it up equally.
Even though this power-duo did not have a separation agreement, it’s always a good idea to have one – no matter what your net worth is. That’s because a separation agreement is a negotiated legal contract between you, ideally before you get married, reflecting your pre-agreed resolution to how certain aspects of your relationship will be governed in the event you decide to split later on.
It need not be limited to asset-division: Under Canadian law, it can cover other items such as spousal support, child support, as well as the day-to-day issues relating to any children that you already have.
And, because it is tailored to your unique situation and individual needs, it can be very effective for speeding up your divorce process and cutting down your costs. The key benefit is that it can avoid altogether the need to go to court or engage in other pricier methods for resolving your disputes. Even if you later disagree on some unanticipated issues, a well-thought-out separation agreement can go a long way towards at least narrowing the issues between you.
Few of us have to worry about how to divide tens of billions of dollars upon separation or divorce. But even if your assets are much more modest now – and even if you consider yourself merely a “billionaire-in-the-making” – a separation agreement is always a great idea to protect what you have now and in the future.