How Bill Gates could split enormous fortune – and why kids will only inherit a $10m each


Bill and Melinda Gates, two of the richest people in the world, have officially announced their divorce.

Naturally, there has been a huge interest in how the couple will split their eye-watering fortune.

Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft is currently the fourth richest person in the world, with a net worth of $124billion (£89million), according to Forbes.

The couple both jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has become one of the most powerful and influential forces in public health.

Bill and Melinda have donated $45billion through the foundation since its inception, and in 2020 they pledged to donate more than $400million to various causes related to the Covid-19 pandemic.



Bill and Melinda
Bill and Melinda Gates have announced their divorce

However, that still leaves quite a bit of money for the couple to split – but they do also have their children to think about.

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Bill and Melinda have been married for 27 years, and according to an article published in the New York Times in 1997, it was thought they signed a prenuptial agreement.

According to Keon Family Law, this would have been done to protect Microsoft.

On the website, it says: “After their marriage in 1994, Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly had his wife sign a prenuptial, perhaps in consideration of the preservation of his company and its shareholders.

“Washington State, where Gates resides, is a community property state. In the event of divorce, absent a prenuptial agreement, half of Bill Gates 24% holdings in Microsoft could be in unfriendly hands.”



Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
They jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

However, according to divorce documents obtained by The Sun, it suggests there was no prenup.

The filing appears to state that the only written agreement that relates to the divorce is the aforementioned separation contact.

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TMZ also reported that Bill and Melinda never signed a prenuptial agreement, but that they do have a “separation contract” which stipulated how they will split their property.

According to the documents, Melinda did not ask for spousal support, but for their real property, personal property and debts to be split according to their contract.



Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates have been married for 27 years

Bill and Melinda have three children together, Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe.

But Bill has previously said he plans to leave his children a slightly smaller piece of his fortune in his will.

When asked about rumours he would leave them $10million each in 2013, he said: “I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favour to them.

“Warren Buffett was part of an article in Fortune talking about this in 1986 before I met him and it made me think about it and decide he was right.”

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