Feigenbaum Law

Gates Divorce Leaves Plenty Of Questions

Corporate Tax Planning
May 14, 2021

When it comes to the ultra-rich, few people can imagine the kind of wealth that Bill and Melinda Gates hold. The couple, who recently announced their plans to divorce, are two of the richest people in the world, and their philanthropic endeavors have changed how the wealthy give back. However, their split may change all that.

A $130 billion fortune

It’s almost hard to fathom just how much money the Gates have, with much of it stemming from Bill Gates’ role as a co-founder of Microsoft. The couple married in 1994 and now have a shared wealth of $130 billion. CNBC reported that the couple did not sign a prenuptial contract prior to getting married.

What happens to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in the year 2000 and has an endowment of close to $50 billion. Its mission, broadly speaking, is to fight “poverty, disease, and inequity around the world.” CNET reports that the foundation is the world’s largest private charitable organization.

The New York Times reported that the foundation has 1,600 staff members who work on directing $5 billion in annual grants across 135 countries globally.

Despite their plans to divorce, the parties announced that they “will continue our work together at the foundation.” The New York Times added that even though the Gates’ fortune will be split up, the $50 billion endowment is held in an irrevocable charitable trust and “cannot be removed or divided up as a marital asset.” In addition,  it was reported that prior to their divorce, the Gates transferred $20 billion to the Foundation.

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge to the Foundation, which shut the doors of its Seattle office. However, the pandemic also served as something the Foundation would focus on, with an announcement in December that it was giving $250 million towards fighting COVID-19.

Couple has reportedly already decided how to divide their fortune

An article written on Yahoo Finance states that even though there was no prenuptial agreement in place, they already have come to terms on a separation agreement. The article also states that their agreement asked the courts to divide their property and that no spousal support is being sought.

In the days following their separation, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that $1.8 billion in shares was transferred to Ms. Gates by a holding company owned by Mr. Gates. Those shares were made up in stocks of Canadian National Railway and AutoNation.

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