Not many high-net-worth couples in Minnesota or elsewhere in the United States have the kind of assets Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife of 25 years have. Even so, couples with sizeable assets may be able to learn a lesson from the way Mr. Bezos and his wife have handled their divorce so far as they work on their own post-marriage game plan. The couple jointly announced the split and stated a desired to a enjoy a “wonderful shared new life” together.
Another step that may make a high-asset divorce like this one less stressful for everyone involved, including the couple’s four children, is to focus on important priorities. For separating couples, this might involve not talking negatively about one another and attending joint school, work and social events without conflict. Soon-to-be-exes are also typically advised not make emotion-based decisions, especially if there’s a desire to avoid high-profile disputes.
Many high-net-worth couples have prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to help with the business of asset division. However, such documents may be challenged if the bulk of a couple’s joint assets were accumulated during the marriage as is the case with the Bezoses. Since Amazon was founded post-marriage, company stock will likely be subject to property division. Some CEOs attempt to hang onto stock options while transferring other assets to spouses. However, this may not be possible with a company as valuable as Amazon.
While wrapping up a marriage with major assets involved, a divorce attorney might seek input from team members such as a CPA, a business valuation expert and possibly an estate planning attorney if adjustments to wills, trusts and similar estate documents need to be made. A child specialist may also be brought on board to help with custody negotiations, and a lawyer sometimes consults with a forensic accountant to manage the asset division process and ensure that all joint assets have been properly identified and valued. It may be equally helpful for asset-rich couples to know when to accept a fair settlement, which is usually when reasonable settlement ranges begin to overlap.