Bill and Melinda Gates already decided how to divide wealth: 'Divorce is not something to waste money on'
Billionaire Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, announced Monday that they would end their 27-year marriage, which would likely spark speculation about how the high-profile divorce will play out.
Family attorney Randy Kessler, who has worked on divorce cases with professional athletes and animators, predicted exactly what court documents show - that the Gates worked out beforehand how to separate their estimated $ 133 billion net worth.
A marriage dissolution motion filed by Melinda Gates on Monday found that the couple did not have a marriage agreement but had a separation agreement. The petition only asks the court to divide up the property set out in this agreement and does not ask for ongoing spouse assistance.
"I suspect they will sort this out very privately and both will be very comfortable with the result." Said Kessler. "I can't imagine that she won't be happy financially or that he won't be happy."
According to the petition filed Monday afternoon in Washington State's King County Superior Court, 56-year-old Melinda Gates filed for divorce, stating, “This marriage is irretrievably broken. We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and determine that our conjugal union ended on the date specified in our separation agreement. "
Gates Petition forDissolution by Erin Fuchs
"If it was about the money," said Kessler, "they would stay married."
"People with extraordinary wealth have it for a reason," added Kessler. “They know what not to waste money on and what not to be in the press about. Divorce is not something to waste money on. "
Melinda and Bill Gates each posted a statement on their decision on their Twitter accounts on Monday.
Tweet posted by Bill Gates on Monday May 3rd, 2021
In addition to the couple's fortunes gained through the Microsoft empire, the couple must also decide the future of their philanthropic entity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to the divorce, Gates had transferred Microsoft shares worth $ 20 billion to the nonprofit.
"I think it will stay the way it is," said Kessler of the company, which focuses on global health and poverty initiatives. "It's a will for you if you can divorce and still work together ... never underestimate Bill or Melinda Gates, do you?"
Since the foundation isn't an asset that Gates has to pay for either, Kessler said, it shouldn't be a challenge financially. The foundation's management team will likely play the most important role in their future. Currently, Bill and Melinda Gates are co-chairs of the foundation.
“It's more of a figurative thing,” he said. “I think the focus will be on not changing that image. They don't want their contributors or donors to worry that there will be something different from what it was. "
Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter at Yahoo Finance and a former litigation attorney. Follow Alexis Keenan on Twitter @alexiskweed.
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