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Bill and Melinda Gates: $130 billion and no prenup?

When Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce in early May, the world was shocked. No one had suspected that this power couple’s 27-year year marriage was on the rocks, and it sent shock waves throughout the tech industry, the philanthropic sector and the streets of Hollywood. Then, as if the divorce wasn’t shocking enough, it leaked that this couple worth more than $130 billion did not have a prenuptial agreement in place.

According to CNBC, Bill and Melinda Gates did not have a prenup drafted prior to their marriage in 1994. It was surprising that the couple did not draft a prenuptial agreement before their wedding, considering the fact that Bill Gates was already a billionaire who was leading one of the largest technology companies in the world.

Despite the fact that there is not a prenuptial agreement in place, the couple’s assets will be divided according to a separation agreement that is in place. This is another legal document, similar to a postnuptial agreement, that will serve in a similar capacity as a prenuptial agreement.

This high-profile divorce certainly highlights the importance of a prenuptial agreement. You may not be a billionaire who could potentially be seeking a divorce in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid getting a prenup before your marriage.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that is made between a couple prior to their marriage. It is intended as a roadmap for how assets would be divided in the event of a divorce. It is recommended that any individual who is entering into a marriage with significant assets or with the possibility of a significant family inheritance drafts a prenuptial agreement before the wedding takes place. However, prenuptial agreements are not exclusively for well-to-do couples with diverse stock portfolios. In fact, any couple at any stage of life can benefit from a prenup.

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Drafting a Prenup

Here are five reasons why you should work with an attorney to create a prenuptial agreement:

  1. A prenuptial agreement will protect any assets that you are bringing into the marriage, and will prevent those assets from being considered marital property in the event of a divorce.
  2. A prenuptial agreement can protect any children that you had prior to the marriage, as it will set aside specific assets for those children.
  3. A prenuptial agreement can protect you if you own a business. You can outline parameters for how the business assets would be divided in the event of a divorce.
  4. A prenuptial agreement will require both you and your future spouse to be completely open and honest with one another. This can actually strengthen your relationship and can possibly reduce the need for the prenuptial agreement in the future.
  5. A prenuptial agreement will provide both you and your future spouse with the confidence and clarity that you will need to enter into the marriage. This document, when drafted cooperatively, can actually be a powerful tool that can improve your relationship.

Tips for Creating a Prenup with Your Partner

There is definitely a stigma surrounding prenuptial agreements, and you may be feeling a little uneasy about asking the person that you want to marry to sign a prenup. However, when you work together with your partner to draft the contract, you will find that it’s a process that is quick, easy and effective. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start by addressing the topic with your partner. Be upfront about why you think a prenuptial agreement would be beneficial, and remind your partner that this does not mean that you are planning for a divorce in the future. You may want to compare a prenuptial agreement with life insurance. It’s an investment that you make in your relationship that you hope you do not have to rely on in the future.
  • Work together on the prenuptial agreement. When you draft the contract with an experienced attorney who understands the benefits of a prenup, you can create a document that protects both parties entering into the marriage.
  • Begin working on a prenuptial agreement well in advance of the wedding. This allows you to finish the prenup in a timely manner and focus your efforts on wedding planning.

A prenuptial agreement doesn’t necessarily mean that you are dooming your marriage to divorce. While it may be a touchy subject to bring up, it’s important to keep in mind that this legal agreement protects both you and your future spouse in the event of an unexpected separation. No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but it’s better to be prepared than to deal with the legal logistics that can result if there’s no agreement in place.

For more information about creating a prenuptial agreement, contact one of our experienced attorneys at our Louisville law firm today.