If there is one takeaway from the Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos divorce, it's this — sign the prenup. Although the wealthiest couple in the world live in a community property state, at least one website is reporting that the two never signed a prenuptial agreement.
This likely means that the Bezos' fortune — which is an estimated $136 billion — will be halved. The couple married before Bezos founded Amazon, which, over time, turned him into the richest man in the world. When the ink is dry on his divorce decree, that distinction will be lost.
Hefty settlement, regardless
Of course, half of $136 billion is nothing to sneeze at and a payout anyone would be happy to receive. But where this could potentially trip Bezos up is if it affects his stock ownership — and ultimately his ownership interest in Amazon.
The couple is also free to reach accord on their own terms, subject to approval by the court. In this way, they can keep the messy details of their split and settlement from the public record.
I'm not rich, I don't need a prenup
One might imagine the pre-Amazon Bezos saying just those words. While they might be true, you can never be certain of what the future may bring. You might not be uber-wealthy now, but one day you could be. Regardless, a prenup allows you to protect what you do own outright no matter its value.
In fact, over 50 percent of attorneys in recent years have seen an uptick in client requests for prenup agreements. But if you decide to sign one, you want to make sure that both parties' individual attorneys have reviewed the document before the spouses sign it.
Uh oh, I guess it's too late
If you are already married without a prenup, it might not be too late to add some legal parity to the relationship. Suppose you gave up a lucrative career to to bear and rear the children and care for the home. While you were never paid outright for your career sacrifice and caregiving duties, your services had value that should be justly compensated should you later divorce.
Tennessee law allows couple to voluntarily enter into valid postnuptial agreements. These contracts can also be useful tools when one partner has strayed but the couple wants to remain married. Adding an infidelity clause and penalty could keep an errant spouse at home.
Prenups good for couples of all ages
It doesn't matter if you and your fiancé are dewy-eyed 20-somethings embarking on your first marriage or older couples blending families and resources. A well-crafted prenup can protect both spouses and any assets and dependents they may bring into the marriage, as well as future earnings.
Is a prenup right for you? It likely is, but requires forethought and planning to reap full benefits. Your Nashville family law attorney can provide guidance to you on this matter.